Bellamaine: Graceful force be with you

by Caitlyn Glinksi

Bellamaine is what happens when all goes right in a local music scene. With roots in Anacortes, the band’s success reflects their ability to draw inspiration from anything and their involvement with the world’s most supportive music scene. They are dedicated not only to creating new sounds, but also to investing in the future of local music.

The beginnings of Bellamaine were quite natural. They started four to five years ago shortly after members Nick and Julianne Thompson got married. Bandmate Jordan Nielsen joined them in their garage and  started writing music together. And the name is completely random in case you’re wondering—no mysterious deep meaning behind it.

Bellamaine is a group of talented individuals, each with their own style and source of inspiration that they combine into noisy dreamy pop. “For each of us it’s different, what’s inspiring,” guitarist and vocalist Nick Thompson said. “I’ve always been inspired by rhythm and noise, Julianne loves beautiful melodies, Gaelen loves playing drums and Jordan enjoys the bass tone and the journey of being a sonic scientist and seeing what kind of sounds he can get to come out of a synthesizer or bass. A lot of it is the elusive excursion to find a new sound.”

A turning point for the band, at which they realized just how many people their music had reached, was at a small show at Chop Suey in Seattle a couple years ago. Thompson recalled seeing a long line of people at the show and being convinced they were there to see the other bands, only to find out that they had fans who were willing to drive an hour and a half and dance in a small sweaty venue just to see them play.

Thompson talks about the community of the local music scene and all the support they’ve received from other musicians, as well as their fans. “We all love the northwest, we all grew up here.” Some of the members are originally from different parts of the state but they eventually all trickled over to Anacortes, where they fell into a rich and rewarding fellowship of musicians. “We love our friends, there’s a lot of great artists we’ve had a chance to build relationships with over the years.”

“It’s exciting to be part of an artistic community that cares for each other and invests in each other’s music, comes to each other’s shows,” Thompson said. One of the benefits of artists being invested in each other’s music is seeing what happens when these artists stay in touch over the years and collaborate. “A lot of the bands we played with when we are younger are creating other bands, creating these really great super groups… It’s cool to see a different season of all of our lives… It’s cool to live life together and have relationships with these artists.”

Thompson says even though it’s the music that originally brought them all together, the people have been the best part of the whole experience, and it’s been so much more than making records together. “We’ve had the opportunity to make records with some of the best producers in the Northwest and it’s just kind of silly to be able to stand in a room with those people and know that they’re way over our heads and really gifted, but at the end of the day… I feel really spoiled to be able to meet the people we have to build records together and laugh together and make food.”

While there’s always something unique about each local music scene, I have to speculate that there’s something special about Anacortes. With a population of only 16,000 it is home to a disproportionate amount of musicians, music festivals, and cool spots to make music. The small town vibe of Anacortes is yet another element that fuels the music community. In the relatively brief amount of time it took to do the interview, Paul Benson, member of Mt. Eerie and neighbor of the Thompsons who helped print Bellamaine’s t-shirts, walked by the house. Just one of many examples of how connected everyone is.

After seeing what priceless benefits come from being part of a passionate and supportive music community, Bellamaine has dedicated themselves to investing in the next generation of musicians. “We want to connect with the artists in town… and give them a space to be inspired and create.”

The band will play a couple more shows   –  one with Motopony at Western and one with Gardens and Villa at the Crocodile in Seattle – and then Nick and Julianne are taking a little time to relax as they are expecting a new baby in June. They hope to start playing shows again in the late summer and partner up with some other people in town to put on some all-ages shows, including The Business, a highly esteemed record store in Anacortes, and The Unknown Music Festival.

LIVE SHOW: You can catch Bellemaine with City Hall and Monopony at the VU on March 6 or follow them online at http://www.bellamaine.com/.