Back in March we premiered ‘Piece of Ivy’, the new single from Berlin-based composer and songwriter Jake Bellissimo, a song we described as a “gentle indie pop song, like late morning sunshine with strummed acoustic guitar and good-natured vocals [which] tell of a life transplanted into a new environment, of adapting to change eventually”. The track was taken from a 7″ record of the same name, six tracks that represent Bellissimo’s first foray into post-Gay Angel music-making. The release sways between acoustic intimacy and full-band arrangements, with most of the tracks following the Gay Angel trademark of being short and sweet.
Jake was kind enough to answer some questions about the release and let us premiere a brand new video for the track ‘Memento Mori’, made in collaboration with Marta Tiesenga. Watch Tiesenga’s animation below and then read what Jake had to say.
The video for ‘Memento Mori’ was made in collaboration with Marta Tiesenga. Why did you choose to make a video for this song? And how do you think it complements the music?
Marta is a good pal, great artist, and composer (also a recent signee to Drunk With Love–more on that some other time). We had been talking about collaborating on something for a while, and when I was putting together Piece of Ivy I let Marta choose which song to do a video for and ‘Memento Mori’ came up. It’s the song that has the most specific imagery (time and place) for me, so I think the animation suits it well.
The press release says that Piece of Ivy takes inspiration from travelling and states of flux. Would you say this upheaval is the main theme of the album? Was this necessary to create a blank slate after the mammoth floral project?
Yeah, I would say so. Releasing floral last summer coincided with me dropping things and moving to Berlin, so all of these events coming together at once put me in a state of worry over what to do next. Creating a blank slate was the next logical step, both musically and life-wise, so I decided to try taking away the moniker again as a way to be more honest with myself.
How did it feel to make songs without the gay angel ensemble? Was it a good feeling to strip things right back?
I think it has been a good exercise and has forced me to be more practical about exactly which sounds I want, how to achieve that, etc. The songwriting is the same, though, as gay angel was always more of a solo project and later calling in specific musicians to record certain parts. Naturally it feels different than being able to shove 20 people into a small room at once to record a song, but there are still musicians from the gay angel ensemble on Piece of Ivy (and the music I’ve recorded since floral), so I haven’t really felt like they’ve left.
What are your plans for the future? Are the days of Gay Angel over for good? Do you plan on making more solo records?
I’m currently working on a more large scale album under my real name that will be out next year on Drunk With Love, and Piece of Ivy has kind of played a role in setting up a clean slate for the music on this full-length. That doesn’t mean gay angel is dead, though; in fact, I originally intended to release the next album in January, but then things got more complicated, so the finished version has just been sitting on my hard drive for a while. I’ll be sharing more details about that in the near future, but just need the time to be right.
You can buy Piece of Ivy on 7″ lathe-cut vinyl or a name-your-price download from Drunk With Love Records.