Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Natalie Ribbons Of Tele Novella

Photo credit – Julian Neel. Courtesy of Girlie Action Media.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Austin, Texas-based Indie-folk duo Tele Novella recently dropped the music video for their new single “Never.”

The track follows up previous singles “Words That Stay” and “Technicolor Town,” all of which will be featured on their sophomore effort ‘Merlynn Belle,’ which is slated to release on Feb. 5, 2021 via Kill Rock Stars.

Tele Novella are Natalie Ribbons and Jason Chronis, both of whom have played in separate projects, such as Agent Ribbons, Voxtrot and Belaire.

The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with Ribbons about ‘Merlynn Belle’ and more.

Music Bugle – What inspired your artist name? 

Natalie Ribbons – Jason’s family is from Mexico and he grew up with his grandmother and mother watching lots of Mexican Telenovelas. We loved the idea of it being a band name, but wanted to change the spelling so that it was searchable! I also love how the word sounds and feels saying it… it reminds me of an ice cream flavor.

Music Bugle – What excites you about indie-folk music? 

Natalie Ribbons – We really aren’t inspired by a general genre of music and never have been. We both consume and savor lots of music. Much of the time, we agree what’s good, but sometimes, we don’t. The most interesting and stimulating and sincere creators carve out their own niche rather than try to make a home in a pre-existing one. The genre “indie-folk” is so vague that it’s completely meaningless, therefore, uninspiring. I’m inspired by artists that have given up on packaging themselves correctly to be successful, or otherwise never cared to begin with! (Laughs) We have made that mistake before and got caught up in the stressful charade of trying to be successful. Once we became thoroughly nauseated by that experience, we kicked over our own sandcastle and started over with this record, ‘Merlynn Belle.’ It doesn’t bother us in the slightest if you want to call it “indie-folk” because it’s folky and it’s independent! However, our identity has way more facets than that.

Music Bugle – Where did you get the idea for the video for your previous single “Words That Stay?”

Natalie Ribbons – Some of our favorite movies happened to take place in time periods where the actors donned white wigs, such as “Barry Lyndon” and the film “Amadeus.” The video was largely inspired by those two films and we knew we found the perfect location to shoot it after staying at a historic bed and breakfast in Gonzales, Texas called “Belle Oaks Mansion.”  So many antiques and pastel colors, it was perfect!

Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your sophomore album ‘Merlynn Belle’? 

Natalie Ribbons – It was truly invigorating. We weren’t entirely positive that the band would continue on after suffering from severe burnout after releasing the previous record. The process we used making this one was so simple and understated that it made recording humble and approachable again. We used a Tascam cassette 8-track and also recorded each song completely from beginning to end instead of layering a body of songs from the rhythm section up, as we had before. Each song had a moment, a tiny snow globe of inspiration and it really felt like making art again.

Music Bugle – How would you describe Austin to someone who hasn’t been there before?

Natalie Ribbons – This is a hard one because Austin is in a difficult phase of severe growing pains. Jason and I live in a small, historic Texas town about 40 minutes away called Lockhart, where many artists and musicians have started to flee to in search of affordable rent. I would describe Austin as young and dumb. In other words, it is friendly, eager, a little too trusting and highly short-sighted.

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?

Natalie Ribbons – Been digging this new artist named Jack Name. His new record is fantastic. We also listen to this Italian folk-prog record by Saint Just a lot when it starts to get wintery outside.

Music Bugle – What inspires you the most? 

Natalie Ribbons – I just like to play, like a child. Adults need to play just as they did when they were young, but it gets harder to make time for it. We are better people when we allow ourselves to play. That’s how good ideas have the needed space to occur to you! In other people’s work, I am inspired by the trifecta of sincerity, cleverness and simplicity.

Music Bugle – Does social media make it easier or harder for musicians to stand out these days? 

Natalie Ribbons – Hmm. Easier, I think? I’m no expert, but something tells me that social media is not the problem exactly. I don’t know what it is, but I’d say social media helps more than hurts.

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Natalie Ribbons – I own a vintage clothing store that’s been closed pretty much the whole time, but we’re getting by. It’s been a time of slender means, but we’ve been lucky to have so much space to create and record and make super 8 music videos, so I am grateful.

Music Bugle – How would you define the year 2020? 

Natalie Ribbons – A time of growing pains. I have a lot of empathy for the people that this trying year has harmed and out of respect, I don’t want to overly-emphasize the silver lining. I’ll say that I think everyone is walking away knowing more about who they are as individuals and also who we are as a society. Some of it is not good, but we needed to know the truth.

*Photo credit – Julian Neel*

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