Interview: Bella Figura, the importance of being respectful to oneself and others

Bella Figura

© Christian Jungeblodt

Hidden behind frontman’ bushy beard, Bella Figura play an intense sound that winks at 70’s and 90’s, well structured and round. Despite the italian-sound name, the band is from London and they have earned the right to look back on 2015 as a real milestone. After partecipating at Summer festival dates at Brighton’s musical melting pot The Great Escape, as well as Standon Calling and 2000 Trees Festival have given the London groove connoisseurs plenty of stage time to test new material. The result of which has been two critically acclaimed EP’s in 2015.

Now the band comprised of Justin Gartry (Guitar & Vocals), Mikey Cooper (Bass & Vocals), and Jack Morford (Drums & Vocals) have shared a new track and video for the latest single Forever Lost following up from the “Never Learn” EP earlier in the year. The single takes influence from the likes of Pearl Jam and The National, incorporating the sounds of west coast Americana and run-down British storytelling. The video, by Welsh director Daya Dodds, follows the protagonist journey throughout rural England in a dreamscape style, shot in 4:3 for an affected look.

They’r a a band of heavy grooves, according to band’s fanpage. Sometimes labels can give the flavor of what you’re approching as listener, sometimes labels mean nothing.
We have discussed a little bit about this and more with Justin.

I’m an Italian guy and you have chosen an Italian-sound name Bella Figura. Why? Which is the origin of Bella Figura, for both name and band?

JUSTIN (Guitar+Vocals): It seems to have a  pretty holistic meaning in Italy and around the Mediterranean. They don’t just use the literal translation of ‘Beautiful figure’ to talk about one’s physical appearance but also as a philosophy of being respectful to oneself and others. We like both meanings – I’d like to think our music is ‘well figured’ or at least nicely constructed. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we think it looks and sounds great, and doesn’t fit into a category of band name.

You are compared / matched with Neil Young, Pearl Jam and The National. How do you feel about this? Do you recognize your-selves?

JUSTIN: We can’t help but be inspired by all of our favourite artists, and people can’t help but make comparisons. We try not replicate any style, no matter how much we love a certain band from our childhood etc… We’ve definitely got elements from Pearl Jam and Neil Young, but we’re working hard on what we’d like to call our own sound. Who knows, perhaps one day people will be saying certain new bands sound like BELLA FIGURA.

You are from London. I recognize shadows of Led Zeppelin in your approach, as well as Jimi Hendrix’s guitar style. How do you feel about Brit movement? Which are the differences with the actual music landscape and you.. What makes you unique…

JUSTIN: Although we’ve been inspired by Zeppelin, Hendrix and all the greats, I don’t think we sound anything like them. Some bands look to get a sort-of retro production sound but personally I’m not interested in that. I like that we sound modern. We don’t want people to say “Wow, that could be from the 70s.” – We’d much rather they said “Wow, I’ve never heard anything like that before… Not EVEN in the 70s.” – It’s really difficult to be original, but I think it’s really important to at least try.

We dismiss plenty of big bombastic Rage Against The Machine-style blues riffs in our rehearsals because there are plenty of better ones around. With the Brit rock and pop movement, songs started to get a little more catchy, with the invention of the “anthem chorus” etc… We’re not afraid of a catchy chorus, or a cheesy hook, as long as it’s done well and with the right motive. Perhaps we’ve got the 90s to thanks for that? I don’t know…

Let’s talk about lyrics inspiration and music composition…Do you write together? Someone starts and all others follow up?  Or do you work separately and later on put together all pieces? Where do you get your inspirations?

JUSTIN: Every song comes together differently, which is nice. Most of the time I’ll have the basic chords and most of the lyrics, then we’ll beef it up with band. A lot of our songs are mostly about the instrumentation, though, so it’s certainly not your average singer-songwriter with a band. The inspiration for lyrics can come from anywhere, really, and at any time. I try to avoid writing too many love songs. There are plenty of those around, and they’re probably better than mine, so instead I try to write about broader emotions… Some songs look inwards to my own feelings and struggles with life, and others might look outwards to the wider world. I like to question our thought processes as a species on a wider scale, without getting too political, that is.

Final question: close your eyes and think about you and Bella Figura in five years. Tell me what you see.

JUSTIN: I’d hope that by then we’d have the resources to have a full length album released professionally, reaching a much wider audience than what we can achieve at the moment. It’s difficult being a small independent band – We’ve just recorded our third EP (to be released April/May) but we wouldn’t be able to tackle an album just yet. The EPs are more manageable chunks to deal with, but we’re excited to keep growing and get touring, again on bigger scale. That’s it really, we want to keep doing what we’re doing but on a bigger and bigger scale as we move forward… Our fingers are firmly crossed!

More info on the band:

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