The Melody of Dreams

With a beau­ti­ful voice and thought-pro­vok­ing lyrics, Elise Bellew en­chants with her mu­sic

Cape Coral Living - - Cape Departmens - BY DAVID ACEVEDO

For Elise Bellew, mu­sic has al­ways been an im­por­tant part of her life. She started sing­ing at a very young age, later study­ing and per­fect­ing her craft. Her voice is ethe­real and mys­te­ri­ous, with an en­chant­ing feel. The first defin­ing mo­ments in her ca­reer were the record­ings of her first two al­bums with her first band, The Mary Dream. In As I Am (2003) and Beau­ti­ful World (2006), she part­nered with Blake Ryan Day­ton to write and pro­duce the songs, which are de­scribed by the artist as “a col­lec­tion of bit­ter­sweet and com­pelling songs that are both dreamy and melodic.” Since its re­lease, nu­mer­ous songs from Beau­ti­ful World have been in­cor­po­rated in film and tele­vi­sion, such as ABC’s All My Chil­dren, MTV’s Real World Den­ver and Real World Hol­ly­wood, and CBC’s Heart­land. The ti­tle track of Beau­ti­ful World be­came an op­ti­mistic an­them for YouTube fans, who have cre­ated nu­mer­ous fan videos on the site. The Mary Dream’s third al­bum, en­ti­tled This Kind of Life, was also self-pro­duced and re­leased in 2010.

The mix was done by five-time Grammy win­ner Reid Ship­pen and mas­tered by Greg Calbi, who has worked with stars such as No­rah Jones and John Mayer. Bellew de­scribes this al­bum as a deeper level of the group’s sig­na­ture sound. Her song “Save You” was fea­tured ear­lier this year in an episode of the pop­u­lar MTV se­ries Find­ing Carter. In 2014, this mul­ti­fac­eted tal­ent re­leased Bellew Christ­mas. This beau­ti­fully com­piled col­lec­tion of clas­si­cal hol­i­day songs is not your typ­i­cal Christ­mas al­bum. The com­bi­na­tion of Bellew’s voice and long-time friend and Nashville pro­ducer Michael Head’s ar­range­ments is flaw­less. Each song is an un­ex­pect­edly fresh ver­sion of a clas­sic tune. This record was Bellew’s first as a solo artist, and she feels in­debted to Head, who funded and mas­tered the project for her. Mu­sic has enor­mous power. It can al­ter your mood or make you re­mem­ber. When the proper mix of vo­cals and in­stru­ments is achieved, the re­sults can be mag­i­cal. Some of to­day’s mu­si­cians in­cor­po­rate deep and in­tro­spec­tive lyrics, which is a com­mon prac­tice for Bellew. Her song­writ­ing process is unique. “I typ­i­cally dream a vo­cal melody, be­tween 4 and 6 a.m., and some­times when I nap,” ex­plains Bellew. “When I dream a melody, I wake my­self up and sing it into my phone. Later, I go back and lis­ten to what I recorded to see if it is worth de­vel­op­ing.” She de­vel­ops the lyrics af­ter the melody is found. “Once I have a solid di­rec­tion for the song, I sit down at my com­puter and fig­ure out the tempo by us­ing a click track, which is an elec­tronic metronome,” Bellew con­tin­ues. Af­ter the song is recorded a cap­pella with the tempo, she sends it to pro­ducer Bryan Steele. “It has been a great plea­sure work­ing with such an orig­i­nal artist,” says Steele, who has writ­ten songs for artists around the world, as well as placed songs in many pop­u­lar TV shows and film. “She has a style that is at once haunt­ing but also con­ta­giously pop.” In Novem­ber 2016, Bellew re­leased her lat­est record, en­ti­tled Won­der­land. “With this new al­bum, there were a lot of firsts,” says Bellew, who records most of her vo­cals and writes lyrics from her home stu­dio in Cape Coral. “This is the first time I have writ­ten songs al­most en­tirely by my­self, with­out be­ing de­pen­dent on a com­poser. It is the first al­bum I have ever writ­ten draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from ur­ban, elec­tronic and dance el­e­ments, as op­posed to gui­tar-based rock,” adds Bellew, who finds Won­der­land’s or­ches­tra­tion to be sparser than her pre­vi­ous record­ings, with more em­pha­sis on vo­cals, drums and bass. “I am at the helm, record­ing and edit­ing my own vo­cals, grow­ing as an engi­neer, and all be­cause of my men­tor Bryan [Steele].” In this al­bum, the sub­ject mat­ter of the songs has shifted to rep­re­sent a hap­pier time in her life, while tak­ing more lyri­cal risks. Within the new solo ma­te­rial, songs like the ti­tle track on Won­der­land have de­vel­oped a more cin­e­matic feel. “I’m re­ally hop­ing for some movie place­ments this time around,” says Bellew. As for the fu­ture of this tal­ented Florid­ian, she says songs, songs and more songs. “I lit­er­ally can­not stop writ­ing. The songs just keep com­ing in my sleep, so I’m just go­ing to keep put­ting out al­bums,” con­cludes the songstress, who has found the great­est joy in making beau­ti­ful mu­sic for all of us to en­joy.

The ti­tle track of Beau­ti­ful World be­came an op­ti­mistic an­them for YouTube fans, who have cre­ated nu­mer­ous fan videos on the site.

David Acevedo is a vis­ual artist, arts writer, art gallery owner and cu­ra­tor liv­ing in Cape Coral. He has a bach­e­lor’s de­gree from the Uni­ver­sity of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Cam­pus. He is a co-founder of the Fort My­ers Art Walk and owner/man­ager of The Union Artist Stu­dios and DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts in Fort My­ers.

In what she calls her Zen room, Elise Bellew finds in­spi­ra­tion for new songs. Above, her new al­bum, Won­der­land, was recorded in her home stu­dio in Cape Coral.

Bellew records her songs a capella and then pro­vides her pro­ducer with the files for the in­stru­men­tal syn­chro­niza­tion. Since 2003, the Cape Coral mu­si­cian has re­leased five al­bums— three with the band, The Mary Dream, and two solo ef­forts.

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