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Matt Belmont - Belle Mt.

Matt Belmont - Belle Mt.

Musician, Songwriter
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Matt Belmont

Singer songwriter Matt Belmont enjoyed viral success with his project, Belle Mt.’s debut single, ‘Hollow’. Matt works on the Belle Mt. material in collaboration with Grammy-winning Nashville producer Femke and relies on his Aston Origin, Stealth, and Halo Shadow to help achieve his soundscapes…

Down the rabbit hole

“My Uncle used to sing in working man clubs around the North East of England. He’d sing to backing tracks; Frank Sinatra and that kind of stuff. My parents bought a karaoke machine from him when I was about 5 or 6 and he’d bring my sister and I backing tracks of songs in the charts and bands that we liked. We used to fight over who was singing the next song in the spare room.

I remember when I was about 9 or 10 our music teacher got on the piano and gave us all a performance. I’d never really sat and watched anyone play an instrument at close quarters. I remember just being completely captivated. I don’t remember what the song was, but it was a classical piece. I remember going home that evening with a bit of a spring in my step.

I’ve got a bit of an obsessive, addictive personality at times, where I get into something and I just go right down the rabbit hole with it. It becomes the thing of the moment - I remember just being obsessed with getting a real piano, and my parents bought me a cheap keyboard, I didn’t like it, and I just bugged them and bugged them until eventually they saw an advert for an old piano in their local newsagents, and they went and bought it and got myself and my sister piano lessons.

When I was about 15, I started playing guitar. Then I went through my first real break-up and started writing songs about it; songs which are buried for all of time, I hope!”

Belle Mt.

“I had some great passive influences as a kid, in that, my dad loved Leonard Cohen; he’d always play him. He’d play Cat Stevens, R.E.M., Joni Mitchell, just the greatest singer songwriters of all time; Queen, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, that was the soundtrack. I wasn’t really exposed to bad music until I started finding it in my early teens.

It was kind of strange because I was raised on this greatness and then when I started to choose my own music, I wanted to listen to pop music, like a rebellion with terrible music! I realised that the stuff before was the good stuff and went back to that, Fleetwood Mac, Paul Simon the works. I think that seeped its way into my consciousness somehow, it led me to focus on my storytelling and the lyrics that I have in my music right now. It’s so important to me to have lyrical depth in a song, but I also love pop music, so I like to package it in an accessible format where it’s not so high brow it turns off listeners.

Belle Mt. is midway between band and solo project. The first couple of years was just me writing on my own, cowriting and working with my producer. I then got offered a live show supporting UK singer songwriter Maverick Sabre, that became the first Belle Mt. show; it was in Exeter. I had to put together a band for it and I knew that my go-to drummer was Chris (Burgess), who’s still our drummer today. We work well together. I met Ben [Worsley – guitar/bass] at an open mic night in South London that I ran, and I just loved his approach and his feel.

Usually the process is that I write the songs, work on them with my producer and then I bring them to Ben and Chris, and they put their stamp on them, they each bring a sound and identity to it and so it becomes, especially in the full band live shows, more of a collective thing.”

Hope for the human race

“It’s hard to define success at the moment just because the music industry is on its head. The classic targets you aim towards growing up have gone out the window. Top of the Pops doesn’t even exist anymore, the charts barely exist either! Hollow was the first single we released and it was on New Music Friday US, which wasn’t even on my radar. it’s one of the biggest in the world for new artists and we didn’t even check it! Then Apple Music featured us on the homepage, that was a massive thing. That song has nearly hit 20 million streams now - mind-blowing.

The first six months were wild. My distributor was calling me up and going, ‘This never happens, this never happens!’ We released a song called ‘Loving You’ and that got higher than Hollow on the viral charts. It just seemed to be one thing after another,.

Then suddenly you hit a ceiling, where you ask yourselves ‘Do we just become a Spotify project? Or do we want to be more than that?’. There’s a lot of artists who are getting millions of streams that you’ve never heard of because they don’t quite break out of Spotify. It gets to the point where you want to build a team who can help you take it bigger.

I started off developing my sound on a trip to this house in France that my friend’s parents had, overlooking these beautiful mountains in France - hence where the name Belle Mt. came from. The songs that I was working on found their way to this producer in Nashville and it was just me and her; she’s called Femke. We were just in a little house in Nashville in her spare room, writing these songs and putting them down. We wrote the whole first EP together. It went from this tiny tight knit team to a way bigger team.

 We’re in the next stage now. ‘Origins’ is out now - I’m so excited about it. We did the official video with Mustashrik, an animator who reached out on Instagram - he hand-animated this entire video. It’s turned out to be this beautiful story. It’s like a future hope for the human race with a sci-fi twist. It looks amazing.“

Whale song

“I have the Aston Stealth, Halo Shadow, and an Origin. Unfortunately not the Spirit or the Starlight…yet! The Origin’s great, I use it in this current setup on my guitar amp both in the studio and live, a LOT. I’ve used them as overheads, as well, on some Belle Mt. tracks. On ‘Let Me’ we used a pair of Origins as the OH, sounded great. Live, we use the Origin on the guitar amp. Now, I’m using the Stealth and Halo as my home demoing setup on acoustic guitar and vocals, just because it’s so detailed in that close dynamic range, and yet it doesn’t take up anywhere near as much of the background noise of the street outside, the flat below, and the flat above, as any condenser would. I think it sounds incredible. I’ll probably use it in some live videos in the future. Femke, the producer I work with, she always uses a Halo; absolutely raves about it.

In our studio in Nashville, we wrapped a sandwich bag over the top of a filled water bottle and dropped an Origin in there, so it was completely sealed off from the water; it became an underwater mic. We put that in front of the guitar cab and it was really strange because it becomes a filter you could never repeat. It just randomly blocks out frequencies that would be so hard to draw in with a plug-in. We had a slide on the guitar. It becomes like… whale song! There’s so much risk there - you’re messing with expensive equipment and water; this is the risk we take for our art!”

Out-takes

Q. Who are your favourite artists?

A. Paul Simon, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Bon Iver. And Coldplay - they’re a bit hit and miss, at times they’ve nailed it and their longevity is unbelievable, as well as their live show.

Q.If you weren’t working in music what would you be doing?
A. As an independent musician when you have no support you have to become the most multi-pronged person possible. You’ve got no money and yet you’ve got to keep up with, well, the music industry. As one person or one band, you have to somehow do everything that a giant company would do. You have to learn how to use Photoshop and be a graphic designer. You have to learn how to use Final Cut Pro and edit your own videos. it’s crazy! One thing I’ve discovered I really enjoy doing is art and design. I like digital art, I designed our logo and all our cover arts and what not. Yea, maybe I’d work in design of some sort. I also love language and words as well though. Maybe I’d be a writer and an artist?

Q. What would your fantasy mic be?

A. I love the pickup pattern of the Stealth, I would make it smaller, more compact, sound the same and I would make it a USB interface. The all in one microphone!

Q. What are the 4 words you’d chose to describe Aston, or your experience with the brand?

A. Well-designed, Innovative, Beautiful, Reliable

Q. What is the first song that made you cry?

A. Sunny Boy – Al Jolson

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