Starting Anew was recorded during 2019 and 2020 while Belle worked as an ICU nurse during the pandemic. "Hold Me" is the first single released off the new album and is available for streaming now. The song is getting an extra kick with its visually rich video made by Bruno Doria which transports viewers into the eye of the emotional hurricane behind the song.
“It’s a testament to having the emotional and the physical connection you can have with somebody that may not be the best relationship,” says Belle of the initially sullen but ultimately empowering track.
“The music is this tension and release,” describes pianist Brian Scheller who wrote the track with Belle five years ago while the two were traveling the French countryside.
“We wanted to communicate that bittersweet feeling where you are letting go of something but at the end of the day, it's what you need to do for your own health and to progress in life,” he adds.
This message is reflected in the video which captures the emotional trajectory of the song moving from the somber intro in black and white to then booming into color enhancing the soaring sense of freedom in the lyrics and vocals.
Horn players sprinkle in upbeat notes and small claps adding depth and R&B energy to the already idyllic setting of the colorful float houses of New Orleans — Belle's home base.
“I’m really excited to share this video because we really connected with the filmmaker on the vision of the song and I think it just amplifies the message,” says Scheller.
Both band mates describe the many changes “Hold Me” and their other songs have gone through as their musical sound matured and expanded from it’s simple origins only featuring Schellar’s piano work and Belle’s powerful vocals.
The intro pays homage to the band's origins. They searched bars in New Orleans that still had house pianos they could use for the show, often leading them to pull out “janky” and dusty pianos from the far corners of the venues.
“We had written some of these songs as far as five years ago. We worked with Eric Heigle, who is the producer and also played drums on a lot of the tracks. He really helped us bring this music to another level that it's never been and that’s why the album is called Starting Anew,” says Belle.
When asked how the duo landed on “Hold Me” to be the first representative for their upcoming album they agree that it was a song which not only held tightly to their roots but also showed where they are headed.
“For me, it was always one of our favorite songs to play together because I think that it just showcases the musical connection that Maggie and I have,” says Schellar. “For people that have not heard our music before it shows how much feeling and emotion we are trying to put into the music and how raw it can get. I thought it was like putting our best foot forward.”
“I agree,” says Belle. “I think it's just a song we've been playing for a long time and I think it also really reflects what this album is. It's something that’s transformative for us as a band.”
Belle and Scheller’s musical partnership started eight years ago and both admit that it wasn’t exactly an instant connection with what Scheller describes as a “clash of the coasts” with West Coast Belle not always understanding Scheller’s East Coast humor and affect.
“At the end of the day that was bridged by music,” says Scheller. “As soon as we sat down to do some music together it was clear that we had this connection and that we needed to keep doing things. It developed really organically.”
Scheller was initially more of a percussionist than a pianist and one day he sat down at a piano in front of Belle and they finally clicked. “I was so moved,” says Belle. “There's just something about what he plays on the piano that I connect with emotionally and I just felt so free to write and the rest was history.”
They were signed to Splice Records and really credit Splice founder Shaun Brennan for turning them into Houston favorites. Belle plans on returning to Houston next year for her album release show.
“Shaun is just this person that has such an amazing capacity to envision something and then he makes it happen. Houston has always been so kind to us. Shout out to Houston for the love and support and for Shaun for introducing us to the city and the people there.”