BELLSAINT

by Corey O'Flanagan



Today on the Songfacts Podcast I am so pleased to have Caroline Brooks, who performs as BELLSAINT. Part of the LA music scene, her songs have appeared in numerous TV shows, including Riverdale and Shameless. Her music will give you a late 1960s California vibe.

Caroline is joined on this episode by Kyle Moore, her husband and musical partner. They perform three songs on the show, including their latest single "WFNEO," an anthem for the times.


BELLSAINT Origins

When I started out I wanted my artist name to be Bell, but this became a nightmare as nobody could find me. I really wanted a name that nobody had, that I could make up, and that was the case with BELLSAINT.

Riverdale and Getting Syncs

For Riverdale, I collaborated with a producer who helps put music on the show. Some of the songwriting sessions I go into, we write the song in a way where it could create an emotion or environment that could fit a certain situation.

I work for Secret Road, who are a mostly female company. Sometimes I will go into a writing session and feel uninspired and I will ask if they have any themes that they need and I will go from there. Sometimes they will tell me they need something super happy or a very specific theme that doesn't feel like it's part of my brand, and I will pass on those. I think you just need to keep your head down and keep writing what is authentic and inspiring to you. Just continue focusing on the artistry and the brand. I feel like sync is so overly saturated that if you're writing only for sync, it can be limiting if there's not an authentic artistic emotion behind it. Artists are three-dimensional people.

I tried different avenues and collaborated with more pop producers. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I've done sessions where I've thought, "This isn't the right lane for me, but I'd be excited to take it in this direction." You know instinctively what you can realistically do and not do.


Family Collaboration

Kyle: We were friends for quite a few years before we dated. Our musical social circles always interweaved and we wrote our first song after we dated. Right off the bat, with our first song, it all went great.

Caroline: We agreed before that if we couldn't write with each other it's OK if it doesn't work.

With Kyle there's a space in our collaborations. When you have the familiarity with the person you are collaborating with, I feel that closeness deepens our relationship. With that artistry I feel that we get each other on a deeper level.

Kyle: When you go through the nitty gritty with anybody, you do hash out a lot. It's a very personal and professional experience. I think the gift of being able to collaborate as a marital couple is that so much of the personal stuff we work through comes out when we create.


"Sunshiny Rainbow"

I wrote this song with Jules Larson and Rob Kleiner, who are super-talented songwriters and who have done a lot with sync. "Sunshiny Rainbow" is about getting to a place where you are like, "Well, this is me. These are the things about me that I can't change." It is about me as a human being and you start celebrating them more.

Initially, I wanted that song to be "Motherfucking Rainbow," but then I thought that might be too aggressive. Sometimes it fits the emotion for it, but for "Sunshiny Rainbow" I decided to dial it back a little bit. It's just a celebration of who you are and unapologetically being yourself.


"WFNEO"

Kyle: When we wrote this song, it was a pretty gnarly time.

Caroline: We had the fires in California and then everything going on in the pandemic, it was such a tough time. I felt like I was starving for community during those times and we realized that we really do fucking need each other. As cliche as it sounds, people need to keep an open mind, but also an open heart.

When we started writing "WFNEO,"1 lyrically it was a bit darker as there was more anger about everything that was happening. The electricity went out when we were in the middle of writing so we lit a bunch of candles and then our house got put on the evacuation notice because of the fires. So much has happened this year that if somebody said that zombies were coming we would just be like, "OK, sounds about right."

We packed up and went to Albuquerque and stayed with Kyle's family and waited out the fires. When we returned back to the song, although it was great, we realized we needed to find some light at the end of the tunnel. Even though everything was so frustrating I really wanted to add some hope, so there was a little shift lyrically from what the song was originally.


"Landmines"

I've always felt that being put on the spot or even in social situations, I'm not the greatest at expressing myself. With music, I have the time to put my thoughts down on paper and have the space to express myself. I've had managers in the past set up writing sessions where there have been great writers and producers, but there's a feeling of making it snappy and getting it done. There's stuff where I've felt very misunderstood both creatively and socially, but there were several times when I wrote that down in a song and people have been like, "Oh, I get it." People have understood me more through my music.

The song is in 3/4 the whole time, but there are some irregular vocal patterns. This was due to Adrianne Gonzalez, who I co-wrote the song with. She had the idea for that and also the drum pattern in the chorus.


"Can't Stop a Woman"

Ironically, I co-wrote this song with two dudes. I just wanted a female-empowerment song that felt honest and made me feel that women can do anything because there's so much resilience and love. A lot of women feel that their voices aren't being heard, so there was some more urgency behind it.

January 27, 2021

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More at bellsaintmusic.com

Photos: Augusto Piccio IV

Footnotes:

  • 1] Stands for "We Fucking Need Each Other" (back)

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