Bella and the Bear are not your average singing-songwriting duo; these guys are something truly unique. Impossible to place in one specific genre, the pair bring together spoken word with beautiful folk melodies and fairytale narratives to great effect, breaking the boundaries of what it means to be an acoustic folk act and dispelling any preconceptions of it as being a tired, safe performance style.
With a good set of material now under their belt, Lauren Gilmour and Stuart Ramage have been making waves in the Scottish music scene over the past year, achieving a lot in their short time together having won ‘Best Newcomer’ at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards late last year and receiving consistently great reviews for their releases; facts that are testament to their ambition and breath-taking talent.
There is an undeniable musical chemistry between the two individuals; Gilmour’s powerhouse vocals communicate raw emotion through the smallest affectations, soaring over Ramage’s intricate, melancholic guitar-playing. Their harmonies are unconventional yet exquisite, while their lyricism is another beautiful element of their musicianship. Their latest release is ‘Still Cold’ is one of their most powerful songs to date, coming at you with its immediate melodies and captivating vocal delivery, as the pair appear to be settling into their own lane and harnessing their abilities to even greater effect.
Having been invited along to showcase at this year’s XpoNorth, GIGsoup caught up with Lauren about the band, their influences and what’s in store…
How’s xpo north been for you?
It’s brilliant, it’s really cool! We came up last year. We didn’t perform but we got used to what the festival is. It’s just a pleasure to be invited to play music amongst everything else that is going on in Scotland. It feels really relevant to be here which is really cool!
How do you find the scene up here in the Highlands?
We’ve done little bits and pieces. The highest we’ve been is probably when we went up to Stornoway to play a festival so we’ve got a little soft spot for playing up high in Scotland. We find that in places like Elgin and Aberdeen, audiences can be really loyal if you go and make the right impression which is nice. Hopefully we’ve made a nice impression in Inverness aswell.
Festival season is upon us. Have you got many appearances coming up?
We do Solas, Kelburn, Belladrum, Electric Fields…
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A lot of you guys seem to be doing the same circuit at the moment which must be cool!
Yeah it’s always good to do shows with people you respect and when you love their music aswell!
I think you guys are very unique. For those that aren’t familiar with you, how would you describe your music?
Thank you! I guess the way we describe our sound is folky, fairytaley, spoken-wordy. It’s a mesh of a lot of influences brought together.
Who would you say you biggest influences are then?
They differ pretty wildly. Stuart has influences from Ben Howard and stuff… I love people like Kate Bush; people who are real storytellers are big influences on us. I guess we’re inspired by people and how they perform and not just the way they write songs.
There seems to be a very close-knit community around you guys which is cool?
Yeah, as I said when we were playing we’re very lucky to be a band in Scotland at the moment . There just seems to be the right ethos of bands helping each other as opposed to rivalling one another which is the healthiest way for it go I think.
Would you consider collaborations with other artists in the future?
Yeah, of course. We’re very lucky. Because we study music, that’s what’s in our bones and playing with other people is what we do all the time. It’s how we met, which was by accident almost, so yeah, it’s right that musicians should collaborate.
Finally, what are the future plans for Bella and the Bear?
We just put our last release out in late April and did a big launch event in Glasgow so we’ve got some plans to record a little live thing with our string section that we worked with. So maybe something a little bit different in the studio coming up which should be fun to experiment with!
This Bella and the Bear article was written by Suzanne Oswald, a GIGsoup contributor.