Hey, You’re Cool! St. Beauty
Belle and Valentino in Wondaland
Blending the soulful traditions of Southern music with the fresh thrum of 808s and a sprinkle of the blues, Atlanta-based Wondaland affiliates St. Beauty are quietly creating a new blueprint for rhythm and blues. Alex Belle and Isis Valentino first met while working at a vintage store. Recognizing a creative connection, they went on to perform at an impromptu showcase which eventually led them to channel their mutual love of music into St. Beauty. With a penchant for retro sartorial choices, perfectly-coiffed hair, and skin as flawless as their voices, Belle and Valentino are perhaps the ideal reflection of their band name. The girls took a break from preparing for Red Bull’s Three Days in Philadelphia to have a quick chat with MASS APPEAL about a few topics near and dear to them: fashion, the 1960s and of course, music.
You guys met while working at a vintage store. How does the past inspire your style?
Isis: We’ve always worn what we like. I’d say we’re both inspired by colors and weird things. I really like weird hats and I’m always wearing high-waisted pants. I’m inspired by ’70s-era style.
What about when you guys are together? Do you complement each other or just do your own thing?
Alex: We kind of like similar things already so it’s really organic. Like to the point I can’t even tell you because there’s no formula.
Isis: Yeah, we have a lot of the same interests so our style naturally lines up.
What is it about the 1970s you both love so much?
Isis: Everything! The style, the music, the literature—even the late ‘60s were great. I have a documentary about all of the festivals that happened then that I love watching. Seeing all the styles and the performances is exciting.
Alex: So many changes were happening at that time too. You had the war, Civil Rights, women moving into the workplace, all of that.
How has creating in a music community as connected and small as Atlanta influenced your sound?
Isis: We’re working with friends and family so it’s easy. There’s always this understanding and there’s never any weirdness, it’s awesome. We’re connected with so many people in Atlanta who have so many interests so we can really explore sound. We recently started working with this guy who’s super ‘60s. He has all of these amazing vinyls all over his house.
Do your musical inspirations also come from that period? If not, who or what inspires you guys?
Alex: Right now, one of my biggest inspirations is seeing how other people work. I have my own way of working and my own way of making music so I love working with other people to see how they work. I think it helps give me a different way of thinking.
Has there been anyone you’ve worked with recently who really made an impression on you?
Isis: Yeah, the guy I was talking about who is really ’60s. His name is Randy. He’s a really dope composer and musician. His house is like walking into Motown. Even the way he’ll have us record music is very analog. He’ll have a whole live band with piano, drums, a guitar player and baseline and then we sing over it. It’s really dope! That was the first time we’d ever done anything like that so we were like, ‘Wow, this is so cool!’
Does that mean we can look forward to hearing some new music very soon?