Meet Belle-Skinner – a Singer-Songwriter, Guitarist & Producer

Originally from Albany, NY, Belle-Skinner is singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer with a hauntingly beautiful voice. She’s preformed at The Linda, the Roadhouse Theatre in London, and the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, among other venues. From preforming to going on the road, here’s what she had to say to our readers:

HC: Where did you attend school?

Belle-Skinner: “I went to Vassar College for Russian Studies and Theatre, and then did a fellowship year at Tech Music School London (now known as BIMM London) to study music production.”

HC: What was your first experience with music like? What song/band sticks out the most to you from your childhood?

Belle-Skinner: “First love is the last love: when I was five or so I had a VHS of ABBA Gold music videos and I thought it was the greatest thing ever. I still love ABBA. Great melodies, great compositions, and great costumes.”

HC: When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career in the music industry?

Belle-Skinner: “After my year abroad in London. I was told by all my teachers and fellow students that I should pursue this, and so I realized it wasn’t a totally crazy idea. It’s not an easy path, so you have to be sure this is what you want to do and you also have to love it.”

HC: What can listeners expect to hear from the music you make?

Belle-Skinner: “I like people to be transported, to be soothed, to remember things and feel them. We interpret songs in our own way, and so I don’t have a specific message to push on others. What you feel is all valid.”

HC: Describe your music in three or four words:

Belle-Skinner: “Ethereal, nostalgic indie/alt-folk”

HC: Musically, who inspires you the most?

Belle-Skinner: “Sufjan Stevens inspires me because he’s got a very strong identity, but he dips into various genres in unexpected ways that are still true to himself. Like how he does soft folk music but then he puts out a really harsh electronic album, or an album of deranged circus Christmas tunes.”

 “I admire lots of people who do that actually, like Bjork, Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, and Radiohead. I also am a bit of a Lana Del Rey fan because she combines imagery very creatively and cohesively – dark nostalgia with a modern

twist. The production on her songs is really good. And Neko Case is such a fine performer and prolific artist. She can take any song and make it explode in color. I love all her cover songs too.”

HC: What do you think your “biggest break” or “greatest opportunity” has been so far in your musical career?

Belle-Skinner: “To be honest, I wasn’t performing much until I got selected to be a songwriting finalist at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June of 2015. I realized I needed to start playing out, so that’s what I did and things started happening.”

“I started to meet people in my town, other musicians who have been very supportive. I’m gonna name-check Candy Ambulance from Saratoga/Queensbury here because they have been so important and inspiring to me; they’re the main reason I moved to New York City and decided to perform as much as possible here. They also helped me make my latest EP ‘We Shut Our Eyes’ so I’m very thankful to them.”

HC: What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Belle-Skinner: “I think the biggest challenge is to remember not to take it so seriously. You can get so wrapped up in ‘am I gonna make it?’ and ‘this thing will change my career’ that you’ll drive yourself crazy and start to hate music. It’s not about you. It’s about other people and having fun. In the thick of it you can forget, so remembering that is important.”

HC: Have you ever entered a talent contest, or auditioned for a talent show of any kind? If not, have you ever thought of doing so?

Belle-Skinner: “I’ve entered songwriting competitions, and I’ve been a finalist in a few: Telluride , Rocky Mountain Folk Festival, Solarfest, and The Great American Songwriting Contest. It’s all good on your resume and whatnot, but I’m not really doing that anymore because I think I got all I could out of the experience and want to try other things.”

HC: What does your 5-year plan entail? What are your goals, and where do you hope to be?

Belle-Skinner: “Well, step one has been to play everywhere I can in New York and meet musicians. Next, I want to put together a band and start performing at venues that don’t book solo artists and start recording new songs and some covers I like. Then I’m gonna get a car and start touring. Easy!”

HC: Have you been involved in any type of benefit performances or fundraiser performances/events? If so, what was it and how did you become involved?

Belle-Skinner: “I’m playing two benefits on June 24th at Project Life Center and on June 28th at The Tarot Society. I recently played a benefit for Hudson Riverkeeper in conjunction with Jeremy Aaron and the Greenwich Village Showcase. Usually people ask me to play, and I’m always happy to help out."

HC: What would you say is your favorite part of being in the music industry?

Belle-Skinner: “Performing. I love singing and I love playing, even though I have some stage fright. It’s simultaneously a harrowing and awesome experience and I’m slightly addicted. Maybe I’m a masochist.”

Belle-Skinner most recently played at the Northside Festival in Brooklyn. 

The Northside Festival is a multi-day music festival (June 7 - 11). This year, Unit-J hosted the show with performances by Mama Juke and BR Mackie among others. 

 

 

See where Belle-Skinner is playing next at belle-skinner.com.

Facebook: @belleskinnermusic

Instagram: @belle.skinner