Since building a buzz with the reggae-inflected single "Keep You" in 2012, globally influenced pop band Wild Belle have released a full-length debut (Isles, released in March), played massive festival gigs (including Lollapalooza and Coachella) and toured nearly nonstop. Now the group -- led by singer-songwriter Natalie Bergman and backed by brother Elliot of Afrobeat outfit Nomo -- are ready to embark on their first full North American tour as a headliner, starting here in Madison and ending in the band's home base of Chicago seven weeks later.
Before the group plays at High Noon Saloon on Sept. 5, Isthmus caught up with Natalie about inspirations and writing on the road.
What has travel meant to your and Elliot's lives?
You try to collect music from places you visit; you try to collect experiences and stories. But recently, something that's been inspiring to me is being in Chicago. I feel like that's when I can pay attention to what's going on around me, in my own habitat where I live. Actually, I've been kind of excited lately about honky-tonk bars in Chicago with country-western music. We [recently] shot a music video in the desert with my little brother, and it's just gorgeous out there. Lately, the West has been a huge inspiration for me.
Is it possible to tour too much?
I haven't hit that yet. But there are times when I need to be writing, and I want to be writing at home because that's where it comes the most naturally. You can write on the road, and most musicians are like, "It's challenging to write on the road." You can write anywhere if you have the will; it's a mental thing. You don't need be so conceited, like, "Oh, I'm so exhausted from touring. I can't write." It's kind of bullshit, honestly. You just write a song and you exercise your brain. Read a book -- just write music. That's my job.
I would like some time at home, because I feel like I'm really never home. But that's all right, because maybe at this time in my life, the road is my home.