Erny Belle first took the spotlight in October of 2021, with the successful release of her debut single and video for ‘Burning Heaven’. The singer-songwriter (Aimee Renata) seemingly appeared out of nowhere, onto our shores – leather clad, red wine in hand – stoking the flames of New Zealand’s music scene.
Erny Belle made the decision to move from Auckland city to the rural township of Maungaturoto in the summer of 2019, to write and record what would become her debut album, Venus Is Home. The album is a nine song showcase of gothic storytelling – woven together beautifully, with lilting slide guitar, tremolo guitar, slow-burning melodies, and sublime, harmonised vocals.
Venus Is Home was self-produced and independently released in February 2022, following her second single ‘Hell Hole’. Since the release of her debut, Belle has received rave reviews and glowing profiles – the album being widely praised as one of Aotearoa’s standout releases of 2022.
On Venus Is Home, the lyrics shift steadfastly from sweet and earnest, to dark and satirical; toying between the artist’s ruggedness and vulnerability, “Drinking on a broken heart was a bad move”, Belle confesses on ‘Sorry Not Sorry’. She has sparked heavy contemplation with the brutal opening line in ‘Nuclear Bombs’; “I’m gonna go and smoke some P and put my baby in a washing machine”, striking a finger at New Zealand’s meth crisis.
Venus Is Home captures a sound shaped by the landscape, with references that are distinct to Aotearoa. The album ends with the title track ‘Venus Is Home’, where Belle is re-centered and grounded by words of wisdom, a “glass of lukewarm cask wine”, and “a feed of watercress”, with her grandmother Venus. The arc of the album gravitates towards her connection to home. Her first sold out album release show with a full band, proved Erny Belle’s assertion as a performer. Waltzing through the audience to sing her finale, singing bowl in hand, face veiled in black lace; channeling a performance that feels like an earnest surrender to her audience. Rarely performing since, Belle has opened for Andy Shauf and Orville Peck for their international tours, and has been hand-picked for the 2023 incarnation of St Jerome’s Laneway Festival.
Tell us a bit about yourself - Name(s)/Age(s)? Where are you from? How did you get into music? Who are your favourite artists?
Tell us a bit about the album - What were some of the inspirations behind its creation/of the album itself?
I was inspired by landscape, that being the people and places of Maungaturoto, up North where my Father is from and around the K’Road music scene at the time. I was figuring myself and sound out. I think the sound is a mixture of alt-folk, alt-country, Pacifica inspired pop.
Tell us about the album artwork - What was the inspiration? Who is the artist/photographer?
The album cover wasn’t originally intended to be the veiled face. I got to the printers to check the original imagine but it came out too dark, as it was photographed in the woods. I had to rush to my friends home who’s swift at photoshop and we took a still of the Venus Is Home video clip. My Father was the Cinematographer for that Video, so he’s on the other side of the lense for that cover. The veiled imagery is symbolic to me for this album, so it worked out right.
Tell us why you chose to press it to vinyl - What do vinyl records mean to you?
I chose to press it to Vinyl because it’s ahhh, a way to make money as a musician these days, seeing as royalties pay ‘F’ all. I also wanted to have the physicality of holding my first body of work in my hands and listening to it and for others to experience that too.
Any upcoming gigs we can plug?
Laneway! Western Springs!