Elle Belle is the newest, most ambitious solo project of Los Angeles native, Christopher Pappas (formerly of Everyday Visuals, Miracle Parade); a multi-instrumentalist who wrote and recorded the near entirety of this sprawling 23 song, psych-pop debut in his Los Feliz studio apartment. The project was born in the spring of 2014, when Christopher found a respite of creative expression through a new musical, alter-ego identity called Elle Belle. The end result produces a poignant and powerful double record debut entitled Baptistina I & II, (release date: TBD). The album spans across a wide range of genres combining hints of 60’s psychedelia, infused with garage rock, pop and a dash of prog to create a dense, intricate sound.
The project started on the heels of a creative and personal breakdown. Feeling worn out and frustrated while recording Miracle Parade’s sophomore album, Christopher created an alter-ego as a way of approaching the recording process with a fresh perspective. His usual means of writing were becoming increasingly antagonistic and the thought of building a new approach from the ground up was enticing. At the heart of Elle is Christopher and vice versa; the truth is that there is little practical difference in the two. The character’s birth was means to an end, a way that he could express something already there but needed a mouthpiece. The plan worked and the early demos Elle created were steeped in a ineffable energy and vibrance that encouraged Christopher to continue with this experiment.
Elle Belle’s early unreleased music also saw an enthusiastic response among fellow musicians which in turn gave the project an organic, cult like following. Among the early advocates was LA guitarist Mike Bloom (Jenny Lewis, The Elected, Julian Casablancas) who took on guitar duties for the live show. Elle Belle released his debut single late that summer “You Better Mean It” which charted on a number of radio stations (The Thing!, WHSN, CJLO) as well as spun by the legendary Nic Harcourt.
After the single, Elle put the finishing touches on the next batch of songs that would materialize into the official debut album. At it’s core, Baptistina I & II relies on lo-fi 60’s esthetic, but never succumbs to pure musical nostalgia. Through experimentation, the album effortlessly circles around numerous styles such as: “Stranger of the Times”, reminiscent of early Bowie, or the trance-like bass ‘n drum groove of “Rain in London” (with spectacular guest vocals from Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe of Lucius). Other songs such as “San Francisco’s (Gonna take my Girl)” with its explosive chorus and crooning vocals or “Failed Dreamz” an up-tempo synth rock track with driving rhythms and layered guitars, only further cement the album’s ability to produce lasting melodies that stay with you long after the record has ended. The beautifully crafted yet schizophrenic nature of this album strikes a perfect balance between modern and retro, fresh and familiar, progressive and inspired. All in all, culminating into a completely novel listening experience.