In the last year, minimalist folk duo, Bella Ruse, fronted by singer Kay Gillette, have proven themselves to be a talented hardworking band, going on three national tours and recording three EPs. Their simple but engagingly intimate show has impressed festival and club audiences from their hometown of Minneapolis to Seattle to Hollywood, and their songs "Push On" and "Dark Horse" have received radio and podcast play worldwide. They have also fully funded their upcoming full length album via Kickstarter.com with the generous support of their fans all across the country. After only a year together, the band is poised to have a big impact on the national scene.
Bella Ruse was formed February of 2009 when Kay, a former award winning opera singer, moved to Minneapolis to collaborate with Joseph, a twin cities guitarist and composer. They initially played as a vocal jazz duo, performing their first show at St. Paul jazz landmark, The Artists' Quarter. But after their first tour, they found themselves more at home in the vibrant Minneapolis singer-songwriter scene, so they picked up a kazoo and a melodica and headed into indie-folk territory. Their first album, a short, self-titled EP, was recorded for the RPM Challenge, which encourages artists to write and record an entire album in the month of February. Though Kay and Joseph didn't achieve the required ten songs for the competition, their six song "Bella Ruse" EP caught the attention of Minneapolis studio owner David Hedding, with whom they subsequently recorded a collection of live songs. Five songs from their original EP have been licensed for commercial and television use nationally, including "Heart of Everyone" which will be heard on Showtime's "Next Stop For Charlie", and "Push On", which won them an opening spot at Lilith Fair. Recently, Bella Ruse has taken up the green energy banner, traveling in a tour van converted to run on waste vegetable oil, which is carbon neutral. Their van has already seen the country, ferrying Kay and Joseph to Dallas, Atlanta, Nashville, and Chicago in the last month.
Bolstered by the success of their first EP, Kay and Joseph are following in the footsteps of artists like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Allison Weiss by shunning the record label model and opting to take on the managerial and financial responsibility themselves. Their upcoming full-length album, due out this fall, was fan-funded through the website Kickstarter.com, which gives artists a chance to connect with listeners and receive contributions in exchange for rewards like signed albums and private concerts. The new album will feature a fuller sound, including drummer Alex Young and bassist Nathan Eliot and has a more collaborative feel. The album is being released in conjunction with a collection of remixed singles from the record, done by local musicians. "We wanted to include our fans and friends as much as possible with this album and build a community around what we're doing," says Kay. Nevertheless, this album will be done in typical Bella Ruse style, produced independently in their home studio.
"This duo makes nothing short of stunningly beautiful minimal rock. It's almost impossible not to be charmed by singer Kay Gillette's warm, intimate vocals." -Pete Kearns, Snobs Music