Singer/songwriter Holland Belle began her musical journey at a very young age; drawn to the challenge and complete over-the-top nature of operatic singing, she began training classically at age 9. In high school, she started writing songs of her own, but didn’t actually decide to pursue music until after she’d finished college. Belle recalls, “For the first time in my life I didn’t have boundaries. No one was telling me what to sing or how to sound, and when those boundaries are stripped away, you are the one who has to motivate yourself to do everything. I realized that I felt unfulfilled in classical music. It wasn’t that I didn’t love the music. It wasn’t until I started writing that I felt like that’s what I was supposed to do. It’s such an outlet for me to be able to express what I feel inside.”
That expression has culminated in the creation of Wanderlust, her beautifully ethereal debut EP, on which Belle is definitely not singing opera. “It just so happened that the voice that came out of me when I was writing was more of a rootsy, Americana-style vocal. I grew up listening to singers like that. It’s so primal in a way; I wanted to sing with my heart and that’s just what came out. It comes from a very raw place,” she explains, adding, “For me, it doesn’t feel different [than operatic singing] because it comes from the same place. I think that a lot of singers struggle with changing genres when it’s that extreme, I feel like for me the technique and skills from training classically only made me more capable and more elastic in the things I was able to do with my voice. They both come from very much a heartfelt place. In that way, it feels very similar, very much like home, even though the sounds I’m making might be very different.” She still sings classical music everyday, giving herself a rigorous vocal workout; “It’s more physical, and it’s a great way to keep your voice healthy and strong,” she explains.
Belle asserts that Wanderlust was created out of a very pure desire to do something that was emotional and focused on storytelling: “I thought about what I could do really well in a simple format to tell stories. I don’t know really know where this desire to do it in this format really comes from; I’ve done of lot of things musically in my background, but the desire to tell stories and be emotional has been a consistent thread through my entire life as a singer. I started collaborating with a friend who is a really talented guitar player, and we were really drawn to the acoustic guitar because it’s very challenging to get the emotion out of an acoustic instrument. It has a rootsy feeling to it. We wrote arranged everything as a duet, two guitars playing together with the voice being the primary instrument. It took a long time to get a good acoustic guitar sound. We definitely got on each other’s nerves spending so much time on it together; we both feel very passionately about the music, but it was rewarding and really fun.”