BY KIAN WEST
WHISPERS AROUND NEWCASTLE TALKING ABOUT THIS DOPE (THAT MEANS GOOD) NEW ARTIST, GOING BY THE NAME BELLE BADI, DOING COOL STUFF, HAD ME THINKING I NEED TO MEET THIS PERSON AND FIND OUT… IS THAT REALLY THEIR NAME?
I sat down with Belle Badi, AKA Gracie Harding, at Bank Corner for a quick latte and a chat about her stage name, forthcoming releases, karaoke at the Kent and who she’d like to rock a stage with…
Where did the name come from?
I didn’t want to use my actual name. I wanted to record songs and had to come up with a stage name. Unfortunately, I don’t have a cool story. I’m trying to think of one to fabricate but it’s just got a good ring to it. A bit of femme fatale vibe. I wanted to call myself Gogo Yubari, the girl from Kill Bill, but then realised it’s copyrighted.
So when you perform, you put on a mask, so to speak?
It’s an exaggerated me. Although I’m pretty consistent in my life, I’m pretty much Belle Badi all the time. It’s fun to have it separate, not as one entity.
How long have you been making music?
My whole life. I’ve always played around. I’m from a pretty musical family; we had a really old piano in our sunroom that I used to bang on all the time. I’ve always written silly songs or played the latest pop song, then I got a keyboard when I was 18.
Is this a kind of musical chapter right now?
Definitely. I’ve always played at home with my friends and wrote silly songs and never took myself seriously. Then a year ago I went to Big Sound in Brisbane, the conference, and I thought I could have a go of it. Then I put in the effort and made the time for it. I had to drop back on uni and really focus on it. But it’s really enjoyable, so far.
That’s crazy. I was listening to your song ‘Time Machine’ – is that a good indication of your style?
Well, that’s the first time I’ve had producers actually, so it’s funny – I’ve always played at home on my keyboard and I have an idea of what the song will sound like, but I didn’t know how to do it myself. I still feel like I’m working on it a bit and trying to find the exact sound I’m after. Just alternative pop music, a bit of fun.
Is that how you describe it?
Maybe like Rhianna. I listen to a lot of RnB music. I’m very influenced by that.
So are you a Newcastle native?
I grew up around Forster, a little town near Seal Rocks, but I moved up here when I was 18, because there’s not a lot to do there. I lived in London for a year and a half about two years ago. But I feel like a Newcastle girl. My family is all from here so I’ve been here a lot. I’ve been to the Kent enough nights to say I’m a Newcastle girl now.
Is that a measurement? How many times you’ve been to the Kent? Have you sung karaoke there?
Of course I have! Almost every time.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
I always do a rap song. It will be ‘Run This Town’ or Jay-Z or something.
Things seem to be really taking off for you at the moment. Does it feel like that on the inside?
A little bit. I just played three songs on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Maroochydore, and it was really fun, but I’d only played in Newcastle before that. So it was cool that people I didn’t know were coming to watch. But I still just feel like me, practising at home in my bedroom.
Are there things about to be released?
Yep – I have a single about to be recorded, released in August.
Where did you record it?
One of my friends named Gareth, who runs Cosmic Jive Studio, he’s a genius and we’ve done an acoustic version of the song, playing piano. I wrote the piano. He went to uni and did a degree in classical piano and he’s an absolute genius. It’s quite sweet, it’s called ‘You Make Me So Shy’. It’s about having a crush on someone and how it feels horrible and that icky feeling of being crazy in love.
Who are your favourite local artists?
I love e4444e, the DJ. I’ve always loved when you’re first having a dance. Rotate is really good. King Single writes the cutest pop songs ever, so sweet. I don’t know if I should call them pop songs…!
When you’re not at Bank Corner or rocking shows, where do you hang out in Newcastle?
Well, I live in Carrington, so the Carrington Bowling Club. Me and all my friends are members there. I’ve never been a member of a club, it’s so fun. When it’s warm I’ll be at the beach. I quite like being outside and walking and running. The Kent, I love that pub. You know normally you go to places and you know you’re going to be around people who are like you? The Kent is not like that. You get all types. It’s such a broad spectrum.
If you could play support for anyone right now, who’s your biggest dream?
It would be really cool to play for Frank Ocean. I love him. Just a huge rapper. Frank Ocean is my idol. And MIA. I love her. She’s my idol and inspiration. I also think it would be cool to open shows for different sounding artists as well. My manager was asking me the other day actually… And I’m like, anyone who will take me at the moment! [Laughs]
So you’ve got some new releases. Should we expect a date of release?
August is when we’ll bring out the next single.
Yep, and Spotify and iTunes. I don’t have an exact date yet. We want to time it right. I just want to get it out there! But I’ve got a few songs in process too, I’m doing one with the boys at Woodriver Studios and yeah, just figuring it out. I’ve got seven songs now and I’m so keen to get them recorded and out there. It’s such a process. It’s part of the fun though.
Crazy. And you’re playing at our collab event in August?
Yeah, that’ll be fun. I love Thursday nights at the Cambridge. It will be cool to be on stage and have my own.
My last question: is there anything else Novocastrians need to know about?
Hard question… Not really. Come to my show? I’ll be your mate. We’ll have a dance. If you want to have a dance, come at me. All welcome, no judgement, just encouragement.
Catch Belle Badi at the Cambridge on August 10th as part of our lovely Love+Rent collaboration event. Other guests include Suburban Haze, Jen Buxton and No Oaths.