Pop Vulture: Belgrade Talk Music, Movies and More
Perth isn’t the easiest place for young bands to get a start. The limited market and lack of venues (shout-out to the YMCA HQ) don’t make things easy, despite the wealth of talent on display across the board. That said, Belgrade, one of many promising young WA acts, are doing pretty well for themselves.
Their ear for catchy melodies, gorgeous harmonies courtesy of three strong vocalists (who share song-writing and lead vocal duties) and trademark violin set this act apart as ones to watch. Their lyrics don’t disappoint either, whether they’re singing about crappy relationships, dragonflies or the Soviet Union. Featuring Clancy Davidson (violin, vocals), Georgia Siciliano (guitar, vocals), David Stewart (bass guitar, vocals) and Lochie Howitt (drums), their sound is hard to pin down. They describe themselves as “folk rock with a little hint of indie and gypsy vibes”, which does help detail their genre-mashing sensibilities. Fleet Foxes, Belle & Sebastian and First Aid Kit come to mind, but theirs is a sound that they own entirely- an exciting prospect for such a young group.
Coming off sets at Fairbridge, WAMFest 2016 and Nannup Music Festival and the release of their debut EP (Fancy Couch), we caught up with bassist and vocalist David Stewart for the latest instalment of our Pop Vulture series.
IN: To start us off, how did Belgrade form?
DS: Belgrade formed through a program called Rock Scholars, which you might have heard of. There’s a couple of bands around now that have gone through there. So that’s how we all met each other. We’ve since moved on from Rock Scholars, but that’s how we met.
IN: And what have been some of the highlights of your time together so far?
DS: We’ve just come back from playing Fairbridge and Nannup Festval, so that was really cool, those have probably been our biggest gigs. We also played the Saturday Spectacular for WAMFest last year at the PICA Amphitheatre, that was really good.
IN: I saw you guys there!
DS: Yeah! And we got a WAM nomination too, so that was really cool. Those are probably some of the highlights.
IN: Speaking of Fairbridge, did you catch any of the other artists there, and who were some of the highlights?
DS: Yeah, we did... Definitely Stella Donnelly, and the Fruity Whites.
IN: Definitely agree with Stella Donnelly, she’s so good. Moving on, one thing I really appreciate about your band is how all the different parts blend together and bounce off each other so seamlessly. How is the song writing part of things arranged between you all?
DS: It’s very varied, and I think that kind of contributes to our diverse sound. Basically, it’ll start with someone bringing in some chords or a bassline or a melody and we’ll build everything around that. I write some songs, Georgia writes some and Clancy writes some, so that’s kinda how we do it all. Clancy and Georgia both have the whole ATAR music song-writing background, so they’ve got all those technical terms, and then there’s me, who just does it in his bedroom and that’s it. *Laughs*
IN: Fair enough. Also, you all sing on various songs, how do you decide who gets the lead in each song?
DS: So basically… Unless we come in with an idea for someone else to sing, say me, sometimes I go in and say “Hey, I want Clancy to sing this bit and Georgia to sing this bit.” But mainly it’ll be whoever brought the idea in originally who gets to sing it.
IN: So, you wrote “Clueless”?
DS: Yeah, I wrote “Clueless”. I also wrote “Soviet Accolades”, and Georgia and I both do that one.
IN: Yeah, right. Well, speaking of, you mentioned your sound brings together a lot of different influences. Seamlessly transitioning into the pop culture side of things now, what sort of stuff do you guys listen to?
DS: Again, it’s so, so varied… I listen to a lot of dream pop. My brother [Thom Stewart] is in Methyl Ethel, so obviously I listen to a lot of them, a lot of Alvvays, that kind of sound… I know Georgia listens to a lot of like, Courtney Barnett and Lake Street Dive, I think? And Clancy has a lot of jazz influences, because she does jazz at school. So yeah, there’s lots and lots of different areas we’re into. We have some artists we all listen to, like Nina Simone and a couple of people like that.
IN: Have there been any albums from this year you’ve been loving, besides your brother’s of course?
DS: From this year… I really like the new Alvvays single, so I’m pretty keen for that album. And same with the Julia Jacklin single, that’s really cool. But for albums… I can’t think of any at the top of my head, I haven’t considered it! (EDIT: David messaged me later and raised This Old Dog by Mac DeMarco as his album of choice.)
IN: Yeah, I’ve been loving those Alvvays and Julia Jacklin singles too. What was the last movie you saw in cinemas, and what did you think of it?
DS: I actually work in a cinema! So I haven’t seen a full movie for a long time, but I get to see lots of little bits of other ones. The last full movie I saw would’ve been… I think it was Star Wars: The Force Awakens. A long time ago.
IN: Have you seen Rogue One?
DS: Nah, I haven’t! I’m well behind. Oh, no, wait, it was La La Land! It was awesome, really recommend it.
IN: Have you been binging any TV shows right now (while you’re not studying of course)?
DS: I started watching Orange is the New Black again. I kinda stopped watching that for a while, and now I’m catching up again. I was watching a fair bit of Russell Coight’s All Aussie Adventures, which is a bit of an old one, but I’m a big fan.
IN: Very nice. Mixing it up a bit now, if you had to pick a DJ/rapper name, what would you go with?
DS: Well, I had a nickname… Well, that might be a bit generous to call it a nickname, one of my brother’s friends once called me Beef Stew? I’d be pretty keen on that as a rapper name. Bit of Beef Stew.
IN: Speaking of stews, where is your favourite place to get a meal from in Perth?
DS: In Perth… I’ve got a really good pizza shop near my place, Antonio’s Pizza. Little plug for them there. I won’t go past a good kebab either, so Arik’s down in South Perth is really good.
IN: If you’re ever in Subi, go to Perth Kebab Station, I love that place.
DS: Oh yeah, I’ll definitely check that out, my friends like it.
IN: Alright, imagine if Belgrade was to get it’s own NWA-style biopic, who would play you?
DS: ...I feel like I’d like to go Seinfeld-style and play myself.
IN: Much of an actor?
DS: I do drama at school. I don’t know though, if I had to choose someone… I’d like to be portrayed by Hugh Jackman, but I don’t know how that would go down with the age gap and everything. Actually, Miles Teller!
IN: Coming back to music now, who are some other young Perth bands that you think people should keep an eye out for?
DS: Oh, there’s so many! The Perth under 18 scene is really going off at the moment right now. Figurehead, I’m a big fan of them. Then we’ve got, like, Mixed Signals, they’ve got some good stuff. JAG too, a couple of them have just turned 18 so they’re just kind of breaking into the older scene now. There's a lot more, I don't want to forget anyone!
IN: It’s pretty hard when you’re under 18 in Perth, hey? There’s basically just the YMCA.
DS: It’s ridiculous. It’s pretty difficult. But it is kind of nice, too. You play HQ, and as you said you kind of have to play HQ, but I feel like we don’t really suit HQ. But then you meet other people there who also don’t really suit HQ, and it’s a nice little bonding experience, the scene is a bit of a community. It also gives you a bit of a chance to listen to some things that you might not normally listen to, when you go to those shows that aren’t really like you, and that’s really cool.
IN: Finally, what’s coming up next for Belgrade?
DS: We’re opening for Mitchell Martin at the Elington, and that is on the 25th of July? So there’s a bit of a gap, but if anyone wants to give us any shows, we’re willing! *Laughs*