The Belle Sounds
A pick-up line, 16 years, and now an eponymous debut
By William Harries Graham,
12:45PM, Tue. Apr. 30, 2013
Noëlle Hampton and André Moran have formed a new band called the Belle Sounds, whose eponymous debut came out today. The former describes TBS as indie folk-pop. The duo’s featured on Waterloo Records’ Hear Texas Here listening station.
Both musicians originally hail from Northern California. Hampton began with piano and high school band, and by the age of 15, she was listening to punk rock. She found a pawn shop, bought a guitar, and her style’s been developing ever since.
Hampton’s plan was to continue with art school. On break from college, she taught herself some guitar chords and then couldn’t stop singing or writing. From there, her and Moran’s story entwines love and music. They shine together.
“The story goes that I wanted to go some place different one night, so I went to a club called the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco,” relays Hampton. “I walked in, ordered a whiskey, and saw André standing by the stage. I walked over and said, ‘I think I came here to meet you.’”
Moran grins: “It was the best pick-up line.”
One date turned into 16 years together. Nine years ago they moved to Austin.
“We toured a lot back then and fell in love with Austin,” explains Hampton. “We went to the first ACL Festival and decided to make Austin our home. We wanted to be challenged musically by the extreme talent in Austin.”
Moran adds, “Every time we played in Austin, we made friends and then we would miss them.”
Eventually, Hampton’s family followed her here, including her parents, sister, and her 98-year-old grandmother. Now, her parents live about a block away from her and her grandmother attends all of her shows.
For his part, Moran’s an engineer at Congress House Studio and teaches at Austin Community College. The Belle Sounds, recorded in East Nashville, is a departure for the couple.
“I was putting material together for a new record,” begins Hampton. “I wasn’t hearing what I wanted to hear from myself. I took some time off from the project to just listen to music, while writing more new songs. We heard about Neilson Hubbard and went to to Nashville to meet him.”
“We clicked,” enthuses Moran. “Hubbard really got what we were doing. We made the record in two weeks.”
They say that East Nashville has become a lot like Austin.
“Really cool young people making cool things happen,” relays Moran.
“Once we started working with Nielsen, it felt like it was a good idea to stretch and do something entirely different,” continues Hampton. “I’ve always wanted to have a band name because André has never been included when I’m billed as Noëlle Hampton, and he’s such a major part of the music.”
Her advice to young musicians: “Be kind, be humble. Work with people that you like and that are kind as well. And have patience.”
A release party for The Belle Sounds goes down May 11 at Strange Brew.