Life-long friends, Belle Miners are Canadian musicians Felicia Harding and Marina Avros, and Australian-based Jaime Jackett. The trio formed in Australia in 2015 and have performed three national tours since. Their name was inspired by the rhythmical intonation of Bell Miners in the Australian bush, following a night of stealth camping near Mullumbimby when “the otherworldly sound of these vagabond birds, like hundreds of bells, filled the air” says Felicia.
With dense vocal harmonies, clever lyrics and a liberating, joyous sound, Canadian/Australian trio Belle Miners celebrate love and equality in ‘Fall in Love with Me’, the lead single from their forthcoming debut album Powerful Owl. The song is the true story of a poet who travelled four days to express her love to guitarist and vocalist Marina Avros.
Amidst the intense local debate on marriage equality in Australia, Marina says “It’s really interesting to see the positive role music has in the debate on same sex marriage. We meet lots of people on tour who love the song and it doesn’t matter who they are. They just say how great it is, to have someone express themselves as gay and to sing about it. That means a lot to me”.
“But the love people express”, says Marina, “is universal and that’s what the band is for. We formed the year Jaime got married and Felicia is about to. Why shouldn’t we all be able to? No-one should be afraid to be in love, in the same way you shouldn’t be afraid to have your heart broken. Everyone is the same in that sense”.
‘Fall in Love with Me’ was the first song Belle Miners sang together and was the seed for everything they’ve done since.
|Powerful Owl will be released on Friday 3 November 2017 via MGM Distribution. Pre-orders available here. Belle Miners will tour across Australia in January 2018 – tour dates yet to be announced.|
|“Fall in Love with Me” Did you ever think this would have such a positive influence on Gay rights and marriage equality?
It was completely by chance that the government of Australia happened to be going to the polls the very week we were planning to release our single. And with the marriage equality plebiscite up and coming in Australia, we wanted to show our support for our band mate, Marina, and the LGBTQI community in Australia, and the world, by offering up our pending release for equality. There is always a lot of serendipity involved with this band, as is often the way with art. Our work already has an influence on equality because we are open and supportive of Marina in the music we play and in our performances. We don’t expect the song to become an anthem – though that would be nice – but every bit anyone can do to help is important. And we’re grateful to be able to make a contribution.
What were the driving inspirations for the album thematically and lyrically and how do you capture the lyrics as the songs come to you?
We kind of see the album as a journey: it is focused on love, personal challenge and death. It’s sort of the collective life story of the band, if you will. It starts quite happy and gets a bit dark in the middle… but it ends on a positive note! So as not to be too morbid for the listeners, you see – there is always beauty in life.
Last year, I had a brain stem tumour removed that had been considered inoperable and benign for 11 years. After a series of events, it was my family’s discovery of Dr. Charlie Teo that saw me having the ‘inoperable’ removed. As it turned out, it had become a cancer. I believe he saved my life. The band has helped get me through this insane period of my life… we stubbornly toured in February, despite the challenge, and followed that by recording ‘Powerful Owl’ after the tour. To be perfectly honest, I don’t recall a lot. It’s great to have the videos to look back and remember what it was like!
Needless to say, that experience was a huge influence on songs that I penned. Lyrics come in many ways – fully formed, smooshy syllables, painfully pulled from the ether, or magically drifting into your head. Scribbled on paper, recorded on phones, or repeated by rote so their remembered for later when a pen or phone is handy! Our muses and geniuses take many forms!
When you recorded this album, did you multi-track each instrument one at a time or did you capture the foundation live as a band and build upon that? What process do you prefer most and why?
This was a multi-track recording as best suited our circumstance and schedules at the time. The tracks are started from scratch tracks to clicks and then built up from there. Joby Baker and Adrian Dolan weaved in a little extra magic with percussion, upright bass and strings, and being amazing producers, have mixed it masterfully to emulate the feeling and emotion that we express on stage.
Can you give us an example of a day in the studio with the Belle Miners.
It’s the coming together of years of work and performance – rewarding, challenging, at times frustrating, but mostly fun! Baker Studios, where the album is recorded, is decked out in gorgeous textiles from around the world, creating this rich, carpeted womb of music love. The Bakers, and Adrian, are such warm and loving people that we felt very comfortable in the studio. It is hard work, and big days for us and the producers, but so beautiful to share the experience with each other. We had a great day where it snowed, and you can see pictures of it on our Facebook! We had quite literally just finished touring Australia, and even though it was colder (!?!?) than we expected in Tasmania, to be home recording in SNOW was a bit of a shocker as it doesn’t snow a lot in Victoria! So pretty!
What 5 bands are you currently listening to now and what inspires you about them?
Lately it’s been three: Tanya Ransom – ‘The Art of Departing’, Bec Schofield & Dave Mann – ‘Love is a Flood’, and for a different flavor, Fortune Killers – ‘Temper Temper’. They’re incredible albums – all released this year. Oh, what a year for amazing releases, I tell you! Proud that our album gets to join the 2017 list.
The first two were both produced by Dave Mann in Margaret River, Western Australia. The songs really tug at your heart strings, bringing healing and soothing the soul. To me, they’re a sort of soundtrack for Broome-town where I am currently calling home. The songs that really get me are ‘Medicine Country’ off of ‘Love is a Flood’, and ‘Here and Now’ off of ‘The Art of Departing’… I can’t even handle how good they are! Tanya is a local Broome musician and a friend of mine. You can always feel the pulse as she performs, like your heartbeat is syncing to the song. She’s mesmerizing, and a musician I greatly admire.
‘Temper Temper’ is a different tempo than the other two. It’s Felicia’s other music project and the album is INSANELY good with so many hooks I’ve been singing it since first listen. The songs are well written, and the whole album is catchy. Every. Last. Song. It’s a massive sounding album – think Metric, Lana Del Ray and Kate Bush.
If you could go back 5 years and give yourself any advice about writing and performing music what would it be?
Don’t be so worried about the outcome. Just get out there and do it!! To quote Jack Conte from Patreon “make great stuff and see what happens” and “work to publish”! It’s probably already better than you think it is, so stop worrying and go. Jump! Also… collaborate! Other people bring new flavours and spices to the mix! That diversity makes for a better piece of art and is SO satisfying.
You’ll learn more about your creative process by working with others than you will if you only work alone.
This has been the most rewarding thing about working with Felicia and Marina, and forming the Belle Miners. I feel like these amazing women have shaped me so much, both as a musician and as a human being.