Twin Meets Francesca Belmonte

22.06.2015 | Music | BY:

Francesca Belmonte’s sound is sultry, distinctive and unique, blending RnB, soul, club and electronica with an avant-garde twist. Having worked in the industry for years with trip-hop icon Tricky, Belmonte perfected her talent and is now going out on her own. Her recently released debut, Anima, gives us insight into her world with sombre vocals that are broken up by beats, synths and electronica.

Twin caught up with the singer/songwriter to talk melancholia, favourite lyrics and how it all began.

So how did you end up in Music? 
As a teenager I had a few friends with bedroom studios who were always looking for singers. I started writing poems from a young age but this was the first time I’d laid down vocals and ideas properly and I loved it. We would play gigs around London for fun and I realised very quickly it was what I wanted to do. I started working with more producers, experimenting and developing ideas. Then in 2008 when I met Tricky and my life changed. Within a week of knowing him I was on a two month European tour and then a month or so after that we were touring America. He invited me to sing and write in the studio which we’ve been doing ever since; and six years later he produced my record. I am interested in other things and I’d like to go back to school one day but music has always been priortity.

Why did you decide to go it alone after working with Tricky for so long? 
Because I began to get too comfortable. I had no idea what I was doing when I first started with Trick. I knew I was good enough and that I deserved to be there but I was a novice with a lot to learn. The skills and lessons I’ve learned along the way both professionally and personally have been invaluable but six years is a long time and I began to get restless. It would have been very easy to just stay there, stay on his tour, in his studio. It’s an addictive cycle; make an album tour it and start all over again and being his singer this cycle was provided for me over and over again and all I had to do was show up. It’s been an enriching experience but I needed to feel scared again, I needed a new challenge.

What would you say is the most important lesson you learnt from working with Trick?
To leave your insecurities at the door. I learned this lesson the hard way and I’ll never forget it. Very early on we were writing on the tour bus in Estonia. It was a good vibe and he suggested I tried this particular idea over a piece of music we were listening to. I was apprehensive and said ‘No I don’t think thats going to work’. And the session just stopped, it was like I’d just murdered a member of his family or something, I completely killed the vibe and there was no coming back from it. That doubt I had was an insecurity that had no place in that creative environment and I totally got it. Later on he wrote me a poem to explain why he was so upset about it which is the opening verse of a song I wrote called I Could. He says often, even now ‘You have to try, you have nothing if you dont try.’

Tell us a little about the name of the album, Anima. What does it mean to you?
I came across the word while reading about Carl Jung and firstly it jumped out at me because it looked so beautiful written down and sounded so strong and elegant. Then the more I read into it, the more it resonated with me. It means soul in Italian and being half Neapolitan I liked that nod to my heritage. In Jungian psychology it is the female element of the male psyche which was fitting having been Trickys singer, the voice behind a man for such a long time. There is also an ancient meaning my guitarist told me about a few weeks ago which is the idea that everything is living and connected from a human being to a rock at the top of a mountain. To me the word Anima is about femininity, strength and the two existing harmoniously together. To be a woman is to know your power and to excercise it while retaining that feminine strength and vulnerability which can be challenging in the world we are living in today. There’s too much pressure put on women of all ages to be sexy and fuckable and not enough encouragement to develop ones skills and unique abilities.

Your music has melancholic undertones. What draws you to this style?
It’s not something I think about, it just comes out that way. The album is often quite uptempo and dancey, but you’re right there are strong sad elements even in those seemingly more upbeat tracks like Lying on the Moon. I like sad songs, always have done so perhaps its just a cultivation of listening to a style of music which ultimately influences your art.

How would you describe your sound? 
Alternative blues, experimental pop. Always a tough question.

You have said in previously interviews that you are very proud of your lyrics. Do you have a favourite line that resonates?
It’s hard to pick one favourite line. I want to write more songs like Your Sons, ‘Your sorrow, your sons a hero, but what for? I’m not sure. Your young ones get called and march on, but what for? I’m not sure’. I like the Brothers and Sisters lyrics too , ‘He’ll be waiting round the corner, he’ll be standing up straight, you may notice some affliction. Can you see him whats he wearing? Were his wings beneath the coat? Did he talk of revolution? Did he sing of every note?’ I want to write more songs like that, focusing on strong imagery and mysterious stories. I’m most proud of the Stole lyrics though, they poured out of me and it was like a purging.

Francesca Belmonte’s debut album Anima is out now on False Idols. Buy here

 

Photography by Joe Quigg

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