Bel Kil

by the partae

Where are you currently based?

I moved to Melbourne after school, where I’m currently based.

I grew up on a farm in the Northern Grampians with my two older sisters and cousins on either side. We had the best childhood, free to do whatever we wanted. 

How’s the Melbourne music scene at the moment?

There are so many brilliant local acts out there at the moment making the Melbourne music scene feel alive and electric. I live in fitzroy and it’s impossible not to go to at least one gig a week. There is such a great music community and If I’m not seeing my friends perform I’m stumbling across an awesome new act.

How did you first start playing music?

I was surrounded by a family with a love of music and entertainment and spent my childhood playing guitar, constructing and creating with an inquisitive mind. My dad taught me the guitar but he was left handed and played upside down which made it interesting. I grew up writing songs. But they were personal. I guess it was my form of a diary which meant I was shy to sing in front of others for a long time. I never studied music at school. It was always at the forefront but the confidence to pursue it as a career came later after a serious bike accident. 

I was always drawn to production and felt restricted with acoustic instruments. I wish someone told me that it was possible to study sound engineering straight out of school. I would have loved to assist and learn from others. I’d still love to assist some of my favourite engineers who just happen to be females, Laura Sisk and Anna Laverty..

Sound is so powerful and has the ability to change my mood instantly. So many of my nostalgic memories growing up are shaped by songs and their production. I love good lyrics but it is the sonic elements that stay with me. The way sound is used dynamically to take you on an emotional journey, happy or sad.”

What’s been happening recently?

Tbh, I can’t even tell you. Life has been crazy! 

Releasing an EP and organising a launch is full on. As an independent artist you take on the role of photographer, journalist, video editor, content creator, merch designer, booker and the list goes on and on. It’s a lot but it’s fun and my visual arts background helps. I’ve loved the journey but I am really excited to throw myself into creating new music. I also teach music production which is a great balance and keeps me busy..

Some of my recent gigs include supporting Odette at the Torquay hotel, performing alongside J.R Reyne at the Urbnsurf summer festival and of course my ‘Escaping’ single launch at the Leadbeater which was insane. So much fun! I’m really excited for my EP launch at the Toff in Town this friday night and lots of other exciting things planned for next year including playing at FRL festival in Eldorado. 

Your EP and Single ‘My Year’ are both out now, what influenced the sound and songwriting for the EP? 

I don’t write or produce to try to sound like anybody else. And I have no idea what I am going to create until I sit down in front of the keys or guitar and experiment with a riff, chord progression, melody, or sound effect that really resonates with me. Then the ideas come flowing. 

Having said that, I guess we are all innately influenced by something or someone even if we’re not aware of it at the time. I guess I’m subconsciously drawing from the influences I grew up with that have shaped my appreciation and love of music. The songs my parents and older sisters listened to when I was a little girl, consequently resulting in a sound that is versatile and unique yet distinct and easily recognizable.

I’m sure there’s probably a nod to artists like Beck, the Beatles, Cat Power, Lana Del Rey, Flume, Alt J, Kings of Leon, Tame Impala to name a few.

How did you go about writing the EP?

I didn’t plan to write an EP. Each song came from a different time and place. They are shaped by different observations and experiences and form incisive perceptions of life, love and dreams that are laid bare on a backdrop of cinematic and spirited beats. 

Escaping was originally written on an acoustic guitar when I was a teen and sat unfinished in the back of my mind for years. I felt restricted playing acoustic instruments back then without the audio and production knowledge that now allows me to transform a song sonically.

Backup Plan is an anthemic single exploring the emotions of being disappointed by a friend or loved one who constantly stands you up when you’ve made plans…

I was walking home from the studio on a balmy Friday afternoon, excited to have a beer with a friend, only to receive a text saying he couldn’t make it. I can remember feeling the let down and then when I walked past the pub we were meant to meet at, I started singing voice memos into my phone.

By the time I got home, I had the lyrics and the melody and was ready to produce the music.

Cards is the most personal and heartfelt track on the EP. I wrote it thinking back to the moment I found out that my childhood best friend’s older brother had died. I started producing the drum beat that forms the backbone of the song, followed by the piano and the words started flowing from there. James was one of the first people I knew to die young. Suddenly I was faced with the realisation that we are not invincible. To me the feeling of losing a sibling was incomprehensible. All I could think about was my best friend Suse and how there was nothing I could do to take her pain away. The lives of the family I spent almost everyday with as a child would never be the same. 

What does the single My Year mean to you?

 I started writing and producing ‘My Year’ just before covid hit. I was in a really good place and as a consequence struggled to find anything worthwhile to write about. Quite a few people close to me were going through breakups and I could totally relate to those feelings of utter devastation and emptiness – as though you’re never going to get past it and feel whole again. It’s ultimately a song about finding the strength to get through it and blends my own experience with that of my friends.

Bel Kil is a solo project when it comes to the creation of the music yet as a live performance my band is integral. Our live shows are fun, energetic, emotive and a damn good time so make sure you catch us at the Toff In Town on the 9th December for the EP launch.

What was the recording process like?

It was fun, disjointed, isolating and exciting!

There were definitely ups and downs during the process and I went down a lot of rabbit holes while producing and recording this. Too much time on your own makes it hard to make reliable decisions. 

 I’ve always dreamed of collaborating in a band or with another producer but at this point I write and produce everything solo. I get ideas and have to get them down very quickly. The Reality is it’s hard to find people who share the same vision so it’s easier doing it on my own and then getting a band to play live and I’m so lucky to have found Louis, Jet and Zoran to join me live. They’re amazing.

Although Bel Kil is a solo project I have an incredible group of friends around me who also write, produce and mix which is the best source of feedback, inspiration and support. A good community of like minded people is so important, It keeps you sane.

I play and record all the elements of each song and in some cases I’ll overdub parts. In Escaping and Backup Plan I played the bass line on guitar and then pitched it down in the DAW to sound like a bass, then over dubbed it later with a real bass. I love cinematic music so I compose a lot of string, brass and wind sections using virtual instruments and blend this with a live recording. The chorus often consists of layers of my vocals recorded at home during the luls of lockdown construction.

Where and when did you record/produce/master and who did you work with?

I wrote, recorded, produced and mixed the EP throughout the lockdowns in Melbourne. After a bike accident I sustained a lot of hidden injuries; whiplash, concussion, FND (functional Neurological dissorder) which affects your brain’s messaging and I needed to have vocal surgery. I’m pretty sure I drove my next door neighbour insane during my recovery with my vocal recovery exercises before recording the vocals. 

It was so exciting to jump back in the studio when they opened up to overdub my programmed drums and bass parts with friends playing real instruments. 

I originally mastered the EP myself but decided it’s really important to have a fresh ear. Becki Whitton mastered it and she’s an insanely talented producer, mix and mastering engineer.

What inspired you to pursue a music career?

A guest speaker! 

I taught Visual Arts and I was mentoring year 9 boys at the time.  During a career pathways talk I found myself listening intently and implementing her advice. I was dreaming of a recording studio and making music. The very next week I quit my job and started Googling audio and music production courses. I don’t think the students were even listening and I don’t blame them. Who really knows what will fulfill you in year 9 and more to the point what that career will look like on a day to day basis.

When I started recording and producing I didn’t know if I wanted to pursue my own music. I just knew I wanted to be writing songs and creating a sonic world for them to live within, whether that be for myself or others. I had some incredible opportunities while studying – including being flown to Popakademie in Germany to write for Sony and I was selected for the top-tier American mix engineer Andrew Scheps’ workshop. These experiences were inspiring and validating. The more I produced, recorded and experimented with sound, the more I wrote myself. A serious bike accident also put things in perspective. After this I let down my guard and decided to write an EP and put my own music out into the world. 

What are a couple of your favourite moments within your music career?

I’d have to say my first headline show with my incredibly talented band Louis Spencely, Jethro Kalt and Zoran Lasich for the ‘Escaping’ single launch at the Leadbeater. The crowd got a sneak peak of ‘My Year’ and people were up on shoulders, singing along despite never having heard the song before.

I loved performing  ‘Cards’ for an entirely different reason. This is the most meaningful song I’ve written and it had the opposite effect. People stood still and listened intently,  you could hear a pin drop.

In what direction is your music headed?

I have an album worth of new songs up my sleeve. They’re in the demo stage at the moment and I can’t wait to throw myself back into the production of these tracks early next year. So you’ll have to wait to hear new music soon.

Please tell us about where the imagery used in your single/EP covers came from:

I had planned a  photoshoot with Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore and of course the lockdown happened. I decided to sort through hundreds of family photos stashed in cardboard boxes. I didn’t realise how big a job it was going to be. Two weeks later I stumbled across photos of mum growing up in Portland in the 70s. Sun-bleached images of kids dressed up in oversized costumes, playing with yabbies, and climbing over rock pools which captured the sense of freedom and nostalgia that I explore in my music. I used the photos for my cover art.

Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore later helped me recreate this nostalgic summer feel on a photo shoot at Half Moon Bay. She also captured some snippets of super 8 footage for me to edit with the old 16mm family footage as well as live gig footage to form the videos and visualisers. I didn’t want to shoot something that felt foreign to me, dishonest or unnatural so I guess we were forced to create an alternative that feels so fitting and authentic to me.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

Hmmm, I have the most random playlists of old and new music. For example, I love the theme song to Succession by Nicholas Brittell. I listened to it once and then spotify created an awesome mix of composers and theme songs. However,  I just made a playlist called BEL KIL – Nostalgia MixTape.  It’s got a bit of everything. Songs that make me feel and that transport me to a specific time and place such as a house party, road trip with friends, childhood holidays… You can check it out on spotify my spotify profile.. 

What’s planned for the remainder of 2022 going into 2023?

I’m really excited for my EP launch at the Toff on Friday the 9th of December. 

My dream is to play lots of music festivals and the first for 2023 will be the FRL, Folk Rhythm and Life festival in Eldorado.

I can’t wait to start recording and producing my next project that’s currently in the demo stage. There is a lot more of Bel Kil to come so stay tuned.

Favourite food and place to hangout?

Hmmm this is a tough question. I am spoiled for choice in Fitzroy with cafes, restaurants and awesome pubs on every corner. I live opposite the Marquis of Lorne and it’s hard to go past it particularly on a balmy night when people are sprawling out onto the street. 

And my favourite food! I love cooking all sorts of things but you can’t go past good Italian style pizza.

Bel Kil socials: 




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