Call & Response: Del Bel
Del Bel is a new local musical collective, composed of artists from familiar Toronto bands, including Do Make Say Think, Bry Webb Band, Ohbijou, Entire Cities and many more. Del Bel began as the project of one man, Tyler Belluz, but after almost two years in the making, the LP Oneiric became a collaborative effort.
Opening with the escapist dream-pop track "Dusk Light", Oneiric combines jazzy elements with the full backing of mystical orchestration. It's a dramatic and cinematic-sounding record, full of rough and bold sounds that surprise, yet Lisa Conway's vocals anchor and rein in the tracks.
This week, I chat with Del Bel founder Tyler Belluz about the new LP, their CD release show at The Silver Dollar and the inspiration behind their collective sound.
How did you come up with the name Del Bel? What does it mean?
My dad's family is from northern Italy and our last name was Del Bel Belluz. Apparently when my Nonno was in the army, a commanding officer shouted his name in front of everyone and made fun of it for being odd. All the other officers laughed, so when they moved to Canada they unofficially anglicized it. So it's basically an homage to our forgotten name.
With your debut album Oneiric starting off as a personal project, how has the vision for the album changed since transforming into a full band?
Everyone involved in the live project recorded on the album. So in a sense there has been very little change musically speaking, as they were quite content with end result of their playing on the record. Generally speaking, we are playing the album almost exactly how it sounds on the record. This of course is only possible because we have 9 people playing their specific lines.
Can you talk about how Del Bel came together? What's the most rewarding aspect of having different musicians from different bands collaborating in this project? What's the most difficult?
The band really came together after rough mixes starting floating around in every one's email. These emails were almost an audition of my writing ability- feelers, if anyone would be interested in pursuing this live. The album was recorded in many stages. Single tracks were recorded in different households, studios, and eventually having Lisa Conway entertaining adding vocals. Basically as soon as her lyrics touched any part of a song, the song itself became alive.
I think the most rewarding part is actually having 9 willing bodies sacrificing any amount of time towards playing this stuff live. Ultimately the biggest difficulties will arise over the next little while. So far schedules have been open enough to playing initial shows. However as things pick up in the new year, it will be more and more difficult to play regularly. I saw this coming a mile away. I picked everyone for a reason. They are all playing in multiple amazing projects.
Besides having a kind of cinematic quality, how else would you describe Oneiric in one word and why?
Vibe. Come record with us and you'll know why.
There's also a very live feeling about this album in terms of the instrumental arrangements having an organic, almost jazzy and spontaneous texture to them. What kind of sound were you hoping to create with Oneiric?
Well given that these were all instrumentals before Lisa Conway wrote lyrics and sang on them, I think that every song has multiple meanings. On the instrumental side, songs were generated by whatever experiences caused me to create. Now seeing as my abilities to name a song were limited to "best song title" Lisa had quite a bit of space to lyrically create and add her interpretation on the vibe the instrumental was setting up.
What types of things or ideas inspire your album? And what is your favourite song from Oneiric if you had to choose one and why?
I started getting into Jim Jarmusch films, and was heavily influenced by his way of making films. Like his films, there's nothing structurally going on in my music. The interesting points derive from certain lines that occur on individual instruments. In a way, I let the listener seek out these subtle lines (as opposed to having them shoved down your throat mindlessly in a pop formula.)
And how about the dreamy first track "Dusk Light"? What's the story behind this song and what sort of feeling do you think it gives as a track that paves the way for the album as a whole?
I really thought "Dusk Light" was a great opener to the album. Unlike the rest of the songs, this one in particular stood out musically speaking because everyone created a seemingly intricate yet simple song. Like all my songs, they only involved a few chords (if that). But in "Dusk Light", one could focus on listening to a single instrument and get lost. It's actually quite difficult to digest everything at once. I don't even know how many tracks Heather Kirby had to mix for that one.
You're all experienced in playing shows here, but what makes this homecoming show at The Silver Dollar different? What will the Del Bel experience be like?
I like to think that this bill is quite solid. Both Lowlands and Skeletones Four seem to cause a stir after every live performance. Although stylistically we are all quite different, there are cohesive musically qualities that will make December 3rd great. We will be having our friend Live Action Fezz (from Green Go) create live projections behind the bands to add another medium to the live show. And lastly, Del Bel has worked up a great forced encore. Don't even bother clapping, cause we are playing it.
Oneiric took a year and half to complete. Where do you see Del Bel in another year and a half?
I hope that we will have some touring under our belt. As well as putting out the sophomore record? Again, it's very hard to look that far ahead. Most likely we will all be incestuously playing in each others groups!
Catch Del Bel at The Silver Dollar (486 Spadina Ave.) on Saturday, December 3rd. Tickets are $7 and doors open at 9PM.
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