“Say the things you’re afraid to say. Make yourself uncomfortable. Just fucking play.”
These were the words uttered by Broken Social Scene frontman Kevin Drew to The Belle Game five years ago in Banff. The Vancouver indie pop band, known for their expansive performances and ethereal beats, had been granted the Banff Centre’s prestigious Independent Music Residency, so they travelled to Alberta to work under some of Canada’s most intuitive musicians, including Drew and Dave Hamelin of The Stills. Now set to tour with Broken Social Scene throughout the United States in spring 2018, things have truly come full circle for The Belle Game.
“We ended up getting a lot more than we bargained for,” says Andrea Lo, lead vocalist of The Belle Game, settling onto a cafe bench in the West End. As one of four members of The Belle Game, Lo is usually accompanied by Adam Nanji (guitar), Alex Andrew (drums), and Katrina Jones (keyboard). For the band, Banff was a life-changing experience. And it was something that would ultimately make their latest album, Fear/Nothing, their most vulnerable project yet. “[They] really egged us on and challenged us to move from logic to creating from feeling,” Lo says of Drew and Hamelin. “And also exploring how we understood and engaged with music.”
Under the wing of Toronto-based record label Arts & Crafts, Fear/Nothing was released in September 2017. The album addresses the feelings of uncertainty after shedding certain identities, whether it’s graduating from university, moving from one job to the next, or leaving a toxic relationship. “It speaks of the fear that I would personally experience when having to dissolve an entire identity, while moving into this state of nothingness, in transition to wherever I would go next,” Lo says. Listen in on dreamy tracks like “Up Again,” a slow-paced anthem, and the riveting beat of “Bring Me,” with Lo crooning the line, “Bring me shame, bring me pain.” Both songs evoke a sense of self-love, healing, and determination.
The album is relatable, drawing focus in like a form of meditation or escapism. We’ve all experienced bad relationships, wavering levels of self-esteem, and the struggle to find out our place in the world; what The Belle Game does is take that darkness and turn it into something enlightening. And it’s an idea followed from album to concert. “When you play a show, it’s not all just about us. It’s about every single person in that room,” says Lo, explaining how performing is the chance to heal their own wounds, as well as those of their fans. “Everyone is there for a common reason: to feel something, to experience something, to run away from something. While doing it together.”
Read more music stories here.