Having established a name for herself as a solo artist, Ella Belfanti is stepping outside her comfort zone with her new band, TYDE.
‘Skin On Skin’, the debut single from Brisbane three-piece TYDE, is an assured statement of artistic intent that draws on the band members’ appreciation for contemporary arena-fillers Florence + the Machine and Matt Corby.
TYDE is made up of guitarist and vocalist Ella Belfanti, Ella’s 15-year-old sister Zoe Belfanti on bass, and drummer Josh Garnett, an active figure in the West End band scene. The 20-year-old Ella Belfanti has spent the last few years building a profile as a solo artist. She rose to prominence after winning Best Guitarist in the 2017 Bluesfest Busking Comp and has since appeared at the National Folk Festival and the Byron Bay Guitar Festival, while also securing an endorsement from Cole Clark Guitars.
Ella’s solo shows are distinguished by her advanced dexterity on the guitar and canny employment of a loop station – to wit, it’s a project defined by independence. But despite this, adapting to playing with a band hasn’t yet thrown up any major obstacles.
“Honestly, playing with Zoe and Josh has felt totally natural,” says Ella. “We have a great connection and energy with each other and the kind of music I’ve written lends itself really well to band arrangements. The biggest challenge has been loading in and out the extra gear at shows – the drum kit is a lot harder to transport than my guitar.”
Ella’s guitar playing skills are incontestable, but she’s also made a determined effort to refine her songwriting abilities over the last couple of years. The fruits of this labour were brought to bear on the recent solo single, ‘Hold You In’, and ‘Skin On Skin’ is a further display of Ella’s growing command of her craft.
“I really hope that people see that the reason I started playing guitar the way I do is to serve the songs that I write; to build textures and therefore tension in the climax of a song, to create intimacy with delicate fingerpicking when the song is revealing and personal,” says Ella. “It’s important to me that my tools aren’t just seen in isolation from their purpose, which is to make a great song.”
It might seem curious for Ella to be launching a band just as she prepares to release her debut official solo EP. But for her, the distinction between the two projects is unambiguous. For one thing, although Ella is responsible for the bulk of the songwriting in TYDE, it’s very much a democratic operation.
“The songs change a lot when I take them to the band and I don’t have final say,” she says. “There’s just something so special about creating songs with other people – it becomes something bigger than yourself, or even the sum of yourselves.
“I wasn’t really on the lookout to start a band, but I’d always written songs with multiple instrumental parts. Then the more we made music together, the more it became clear that this could be a separate project with a different sound to my solo music.”
That’s certainly true of TYDE’s first single. ‘Skin On Skin’ is an anthemic slow burner that builds to a climactic conclusion, decorated with string parts and a chorus of voices. The influence of Florence + the Machine and Matt Corby shines through as well as that of London Grammar and the more sentimental side of Lorde’s catalogue.
“Florence’s voice is one of the best in contemporary music, in my opinion,” says Ella, “and Matt Corby’s fusion of roots-influenced genres with modern production strikes a perfect balance. He also sings with so much passion – something I hope I can bring into my own music.”
The lyrics of ‘Skin On Skin’ explore the complex emotions that accompany physical intimacy. It’s perhaps the most revealing song that Ella has written to date and a taste of what’s to come.
“A few years ago I was thinking about this a lot and I basically had a conversation with myself where I ended up saying, ‘If I’m going to be a songwriter and release my music, I have to come to terms with being vulnerable in front of friends, family and strangers.’ So I see this as a part of being an artist.
“That being said, ‘Skin On Skin’ is the first song I’ve ever felt strange about playing in front of my family!”
‘Skin On Skin’ is out now. For more from TYDE, head to their website.
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