Name: Belaria
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Nationality: French
Recent release: Belaria's Boost & Doubts is out via Friendsome.
Recommendations: A movie I would like to recommend is La Grande Belleza, a comedy-drama, directed by Paolo Sorrentino, released in 2013. The story is gripping and I was particularly touched by the soundtrack of the film which rambles between classical music, electronic music, traditional Italian music ... A must see!
And I would recommend the photographs of Charles Brooks. He created a series called Architecture in Music and wanted to highlight the inner workings of instruments. It's absolutely divine.

If you enjoyed this interview with Belaria and would like to find out more about her work, visit her on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.

When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?

I think my relationship with music started when I was 4 and started doing dance classes. I would say that this is my first link, touchpoint with music and rhythms. For almost 10 years I did ballet, modern and also tap dance.

My first connection with electronic music was when I was 15 and went to a festival in the South of France. I didn't know a lot about it but I fell in love with the energy that the different artists were able to convey. That's when I started to get interested in this branch of music and it was when I was 18 that I wanted to seriously get into and start mixing.

Technically I knew absolutely nothing about it but I was supported and welcomed with open arms by my friend Ruben (aka Michel D. & Friendsome Records boss) who taught me a lot. The producer's hat came a little later, I would say about 2 years ago. I wanted to create my own universe and share the emotions that electronic music brings me.

When I was younger, we listened to a lot of new wave, synth-pop CDs, at home. I remember my father translating the lyrics of “Enjoy The Silence” by Depeche Mode for me. The little anecdote is that my name Charlotte comes partly from The Cure song “Charlotte Sometimes”. (laughs)

When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?

I think there are two processes that happen in my body when I listen to music.

The first is when I discover music that I like, I get a wave of emotion that often translates into butterflies in my stomach, shivers and even tears. The second is when I listen again to music I already know but which makes me remember certain periods; in this case it is memories, flashbacks of these moments which come to mind, often associated with a feeling of nostalgia for certain past periods.

How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?

I think there are many ways to develop with music. The first would be associated with my personal development with the desire to push myself and create things I never thought possible. The advantage with music, and art in general, is that you can explore a multitude of facets and not necessarily be stuck in one box. I think I'm obviously looking for my own way because music is something that is unique to us and that must speak to the producer who creates it. Otherwise it is complicated to transmit emotions that are unique to us.

I think it's important to have objectives, challenges and there are two that I particularly like which is first the construction of a live album and later the realisation of a soundtrack for a movie. The live performance is a very important step that I would like to achieve because it would allow me to put forward my creations and my universe. Creating a soundtrack for a movie would also be a big challenge because the creativity of the producer must be in adequacy with the energy wanting to be conveyed in the movie and must thus make it possible to set the general environment of the movie.

Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.

My personality is marked by phases of boost and doubts hence the title of my EP. I ask myself many questions, I am very interested in what is happening around me but also inside me.

As a listener, this can be characterised by a certain openness of mind and a willingness to discover things that I am not necessarily familiar with. As an artist, I have to analyse, understand and transcribe what is going on in my head or more globally in my body.

What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?

It can be summarised in a very simple way: to allow me to express myself, to evacuate my emotions and to transmit them.

How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?

I think everyone has their own originality, influenced by various sources of inspiration that push them to innovate in the creative process. Perfection is something subjective or even unreal from my point of view. I think that everything has its touch of imperfection and that is often what amplifies beauty.

As for the music of the future or the continuation of a tradition, I don't necessarily ask myself the question. I simply try to do things that I like. I think that it also depends on the point of view. For my grandparents, electronic music is the music of the future, because the process of creation compared to classical music is very different and mixes new technologies and kind of old-school instruments.

Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?

I'm not a big geek of machines, softwares etc, I still have a lot of stuff to learn about that aspect. But my main tools I would say are my little Roland JU-06A, it's a combination of the best of the JUNO-60 and JUNO-106, unstoppable tool for synths. Then I use a VST called Hybrid, there is a big bank of sounds in it that serve as good bases. And then I also use my Behringer Odyssey and drum machines like the 707 and the TR8.

[Read our feature on the JUNO-106]

Also I would tend to say that one of my best tools have been the people who surrounded me and accompanied me since the beginning of my artistic project. I think that without these people I would never have been able to evolve artistically and persevere as much. Thanks to them I managed to gain confidence in my work, although I think it's still a long way to go. But I managed to surpass myself.

Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.

It's hard to describe a typical day this year since I had 3 different activities: student, employee and artist. (laughs) But I will describe a typical day as a producer/DJ.

So my typical day would start around 8am, I get up and have breakfast while reading the news. Then I get ready and take 1 hour to listen to new tracks. It's a very important moment for me because it allows me to explore different registers, to discover new artists' profiles. I also take 1,5-2h to prepare a little for the gigs of the weekend or the radio shows, to reorganise my playlists and to make new ones. Then it's off to the studio.

I always take the time to listen quietly to what I've done the previous time to see if it is well in this direction that I wanted to go. I always like to write down my ideas, so each time I listen to it again, I note what I can modify, continue etc. According to these notes, I continue to produce either by exploring ideas, tracks, or by realizing them when I know exactly what I want to do. When I don't move forward, I take the time to write my different lyrics, often this also unblocks the whole creative process.

Afterwards, I usually go out to meet friends for a drink. Then I go home and have dinner; I never stay up very late so I'm not tired during the week. I watch a series (Stranger Things at the moment, a very good example of a soundtrack creating a very special atmosphere) and then sleep!

Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?

A track that is very dear to me is my track “Heartquake” composed for the "Climate Soundtrack" of DJs For Climate Action. The idea was to create a track using the huge audio database provided by Greenpeace, made from field recordings collected during years of expeditions and activism of the NGO around the world. Slamming icebergs, whale sounds and birds in the Indonesian rainforest were part of the package, to create an original music inspired by the question "What Does The Future Sound Like?”.

DJs for Climate Action · Belaria - Heartquake

Using elements of nature as a basis for a sound inspired me enormously and I built the track quite naturally in one day. I used sounds like a Melodic Whale Synth, Dawn Chorus, Hat Insect, or even a Snare Tree cut. Since I was born, I have had the chance to travel through different countries with my parents. Those trips made me realise the richness of the environment and the necessity to preserve the ecosystem from human destruction.

This track is both an echo to those travels and to the music that my parents have shared with me when I was younger. As in each of my tracks I used my voice and here the vocals were written to denounce the destruction of the ecosystem and the explosion of natural disasters in the world.

Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?

I like to listen to music in groups, like in clubs/festivals, it creates a kind of common energy, a moment of sharing. But each one also has its influences, its tastes and the music is sometimes something individual that we do not necessarily want to share, for my part, I often associate it with my moods.

In the same way, the creative process is something that can be very personal, I wouldn't have thought about collaborating with an artist for my debut EP Boost & Doubts because it was important for me to make it alone and say what I wanted to say in it. On the other hand I think that the collaboration between artists is also an engine of creativity since each one has his skills, his tools, and thus I think that the mutualization of work and ideas allows the acquisition of knowledge.

Collaborating with an artist who doesn't necessarily have the same style as us allows us to get out of our comfort zone and explore styles that we wouldn't necessarily have explored alone.

How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?

I don't know if I would claim that my work and my creativity are intrinsically linked to the world but to a certain extent yes, they are, since the music I produce and create is d broadcast in the world. After that, the most relevant thing about my work that can be directly related to the world is my track “Heartquake” that I mentioned above: it's the use and assembly of elements that make up the world with those that we create.

Music can be found in all societies and throughout history. It is thus universal. For me, its role is simple: to unify and unite people regardless of their disparities.

Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?

I don't think that it really allows us to answer these questions which are sometimes inexplicable, how can art explain death for example?

I think that art especially allows us to externalise emotions generated by these big topics and to make personal interpretations of them. A love song is written to express feelings of love for someone, either as a statement or as a recovery process. A painting symbolising death is sometimes a way of accepting this natural process following the death of someone.

On my EP Boost & Doubts, the track “Burning Inside” was my way to externalise my inner sorrows.

How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?

Music is a science linked to mathematics just like arithmetics or geometry can be: Its purpose is to combine in time the sounds and silences of a measured system. Sound is the constituent material of music.

To give a concrete example of how music and science can be linked, we can take a new project of the Parisian start-up Nextmind. They are producers that can use their instruments through thought - without needing to touch them - in order to multiply the possibilities of creation to infinity.

This is a combination of Artificial Intelligence and new technologies. In practice, this headset can instantly translate brain signals from the visual cortex into digital commands to create music in real time.

Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?

Music is clearly the easiest way for me to express my feelings, or all kinds of emotions that I try to repress in everyday life. This is done both by the choice of instruments used in the tracks, a melancholic sounding synth that can echo the anguish, a rumbling bass that can evacuate the moments of anger, or more simply by the choice of my vocals.

Strangely enough, even though I'm French, I prefer to write my vocals in English, it's the easiest process for me to externalise. Although the French language is ultra rich in terms of vocabulary, I find more words in English compatible with what I feel and what I want to express.

Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?

It has recently been shown by various studies that music has many virtues such as: It promotes concentration, stimulates memory, facilitates language learning ... It is more and more common today to perform music therapy.

What is fascinating is that each musical style, depending on its nature, has different virtues and effects on the body. This is due to the different frequencies and rhythms that make up the music.