Hailed as "an impressively talented bunch" by DIY Magazine, Bella Figura, a trio from London, have already got the support of some pretty big publications behind them. However, despite said support, they're not resting on their laurels and are as determined as ever to keep working hard in order to earn themselves even more credibility as a result of their music.
With plans for a UK tour in April together with the upcoming release of their Forever Lost EP meaning they're in for a busy year, PopWrapped chatted with Bella Figura's vocalist and guitarist Justin Gartry to discover the bands' influences and ultimate ambitions.
PW: Please introduce yourselves.
Justin Gartry: Howdy, I'm Justin from Bella Figura and we're a London based band who have been going for a couple of years.
PW: How do you all know each other?
JG: Mikey, who plays bass, and I met studying music production and our drummer Jack is an old friend from my previous degree in Astrophysics. Mikey and Jack first met at Glastonbury and the rest is history!
PW: Who were your biggest musical influences growing up and have they changed over the years?
JG: I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, Clapton and Hendrix and by the time I was 12, I could play every single Rage Against The Machine riff! I've always loved softer music too like Damien Rice, Jeff Buckley etc, so we try to combine these two sides in our music. More recently I've been enjoying The War On Drugs and The National and their influence has been notable - perhaps more vocally than musically, but we love their driving rhythms, and I think we incorporate this in some of our new stuff.
PW: How do those influences impact what you do as a band?
JG: Well, we try not to take too much from the bands we love. In a way you don't want to be too heavily influenced by other music so you can attempt to find your own sound, so we try to do that. For example, the RATM riffs, I write a bunch of those but we choose not to use them for our own sound.
PW: Is there any band or artist you would say you're most similar to?
JG: The most common comparison we get is Pearl Jam. I didn't realize that both Mr. Vedder and I have a song called "Better Man"... whoops.
PW: When did you first realise that you wanted to make music a career?
JG: Listening to the "Cream Of Clapton" best-of album was the first thing I remember going mad for. That made me want to play guitar, and I suppose it wasn't until a few years later it became a potential career path. Whilst studying Astrophysics I was more focused on my band at the time, and then after dropping out and deciding to study music production things started to make more sense.
PW: Did you ever have any other career ambitions or has it always been music?
JG: Just music.
PW: How easy or hard do you find the song-writing process? Does it depend on the subject matter?
JG: Some of the subject matter can be difficult, yeah. Some songs come from feeling really low, but once that moment passes, you enjoy the process of finishing any lyrics and tying up any loose ends as sort-of emotional closure I suppose. Then playing them with the power of the full band, they take on a whole new life.
PW: If you could have written any song, by any artist. living or dead, which would it be and why?
JG: It would have to be "A Satisfied Mind" because it has such a simple and powerful message, with such a simple structure, and so much room for interpretation when performing it. It's the sort of song that you feel like you've already heard when you hear it for the first time.
PW: Tell me about your latest track "Forever Lost". What's the story behind it?
JG: It's about being stuck doing things you don't want to do and not being able to find your true purpose. So many people feel that way whether they're artists, or lawyers or doctors.
PW: How involved do you get in the video making process and is creating art in that way something you enjoy?
JG: It's different for each video - I like to get involved but I also trust the people I work with to develop any idea I may - or may not - have had and to make it better whilst putting their own personal stamp on it.
PW: Of the shows you've played so far, could you choose the most memorable?
JG: Our first headline show in London at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, or the main stage at Wilderness... or the Sofar Sounds gig the other week where played all our new stuff and it felt really good!
PW: What are your tour/performance plans for the year ahead?
JG: We're just putting together the final pieces of our first UK tour, so keep a look out for details coming soon. It'll be mostly in April in support of our upcoming 'Forever Lost EP', which will be our third independent release so far.
PW: You've been championed by the likes of Clash, NME, and Q Magazine among others, but how important to you are the thoughts of critics and music writers?
JG: Well everyone's going have different opinions, but it's more about the people who read those magazines or look at the blogs who we care about. If we get a feature and people discover us through that, then that's amazing!
PW: What are your thoughts on social media and would you agree that bands and artists need to be socially interactive in order to introduce themselves to and subsequently build up an audience?
JG: Absolutely. It's something I've reluctantly had to adjust to, but something I'm starting to enjoy. Once the ball's rolling it's not so bad. But yes, it's really important, especially since you can connect with people all over the world, not just in your home-town.
PW: For those who haven't seen or heard you before, what can people expect from a Bella Figura show?
JG: Quiet stuff, loud stuff, sad stuff, happy stuff, angry stuff, some crazy guitar solos, some not-so crazy guitar solos, and one massive beard.
PW: What else does 2016 have in store for you?
JG: After our April tour and EP release we'll hopefully be hitting the festival circuit so look out for us in a field near you!
PW: Finally then, what's your ultimate ambition? At what point would you be happy to call it a day?
JG: There is no end! It's just a constant musical journey and we'll just keep going and keep evolving, enjoying the adventure whilst reaching out to as many people as we can in a positive way.