The Southern Ontario 15-musician band has a Hollywood collaboration as its backstory, as reported in Toronto’s NOW magazine:
It’s a bit of a cliché to describe a band that deals in eerie atmospherics and dark blues as “cinematic,” but in the case of Del Bel it’s not only accurate – it’s literal.
Bandleader Tyler Belluz started working on the tracks that make up the group’s unjustly overlooked 2011 debut, Oneiric, after being hired to score a Hollywood B movie. By the time they reached completion, however, the songs had divorced themselves from any preconceived narrative.
“Instead of writing music to the actual motion picture, they sent me photographs and asked me to make something from them,” explains Belluz between sips of iced coffee near Trinity Bellwoods Park.
“What’s interesting is that I would give these songs to [lead singer] Lisa [Conway] and she would write her own lyrics without ever having seen the photographs. So the process in which we made this album was…”
“…kind of backwards,” Conway interrupts from the next seat over.
Belluz collected song parts from 15 different musicians in Guelph and Toronto, recording in living rooms, kitchens and barns. But, he says, the most important ingredient is Conway’s jazz-inflected vocals, which have enormous presence despite her apparent nervousness onstage.
For the live version, Belluz didn’t want to sacrifice the album’s horn- and string-laden orchestral effect, so nine musicians appear onstage. But don’t expect chaos or cacophony from the hulking lineup.
“It’s all very composed,” he says. “It’s important to have contrasts within songs, to have tension and release. If everyone’s just playing at once, then the audience’s ears will get bored.”
“I think silence is really, really powerful, too,” adds Conway. “We’re large onstage, but we’re not afraid to keep it sparse if that’s what the song requires.”
Click on this link to hear their haunting sounds in an interview broadcast on CBC’s Q on March 6, 2015: