A Solo Detour For Ladybug Transistor's Sasha Bell
1772.64 miles away (thank you MapQuest) from Sasha Bell's home base of Brooklyn, New York lies a city known for its heat, university, Southern drawl and, most importantly, its music scene: Austin, Texas. The night prior to my phone interview with Bell, lead singer/keyboardist of Essex Green and female vocalist/keyboardist of Ladybug Transistor, Ladybug Transistor played a gig at Emo's. I figured Bell would be zonked out until the afternoon, but gig or no gig, she was up by 10 a.m., talking to me on the cell while on her way to shop for clothes.
Somewhere between the chaos of early morning traffic and trying to navigate her way to the nearest Salvation Army, Bell began to explain the process that went into making her first solo album, Destination Girl, which was released this past September under the name Finishing School on Telegraph Records, a label owned by Kindercore Records that is also home to Dressy Bessy and Jet by Day.
Destination Girl is a blend of alternative country and synthesized dream pop no surprise considering the music she's made in the two bands she splits her time between. Songs such as "Reno" and "Page 16" wistfully evoke driving 95 in a Mustang down a long dirt road, while the folky melody of "Day Is Over" gleefully invokes a sense of 1960s pop nostalgia. All the songs are arranged with luminous flutes, keyboards, strings, and percussion, the perfect musical frame to set off Bell's sweet vocals.
Bell's solo endeavors begin in the summer of 2001 while she was house-sitting for a friend in upstate New York's Catskill Mountains. With unlimited time on her hands, Bell began writing songs about falling in and out of love, which was propelled by her breakup with longtime boyfriend Jeff Baron of the Essex Green. Feeling confident about the songs she had written, Bell decided it was time to record a solo album. "I had always thought I would do it some day, and finally I realized that day was here," she said. " I realized the logical thing to do was to put these songs out on my own, so I did."
After her time in the Catskills, Bell began laying down tracks at friend and bandmate Gary Olsen's (Ladybug Transistor) home studio, Marlboro Farms in Brooklyn, New York. After the tracks were laid, Bell flew over to the Stockholm home studio of friend and Finnish musical engineer Tomas Hakava. However, it would take Bell another year to complete Destination Girl, finishing the album in London where Hakava had relocated.
Bell said she thinks of the music she makes as "rock." "For the people who are not actively exploring new music on their own, they need the genre classification in order to figure out what they want to listen to," she said. "Indie is a really general term. There are a zillion types of much that is classified under the title of 'indie,' and for me it simply means 'not Top 40 material.'"
Bell said she doesn't know if there will be a Finishing School tour. "I hope so," she said of the Finishing School tour. "I played a few shows with Finishing School last summer and it was a lot of fun. I hope to plan a tour of the East Coast in the spring, but we'll see what happens." Rebekah J. Zietz [Thursday, January 22, 2004]