New york based artist/musician Van Bellman has been dominating our music playlists since this past summer when he released his gripping latest single, “I Hate To See You This Way”. Bellman is not only injecting haunting blues into rock n roll but is also pushing the music boundaries with fearless songwriting. 

We had the pleasure to chat with Bellman in the midst of his newest music video release for “I Hate To See You This Way” where he gave us some intriguing insight of the making of the track, the filming experience of the music video and many more interesting topics.   

SR: What is your story?

VB: I moved to NYC about 7 years ago and started playing out as a solo artist and lead guitar player for hire, all the while working at a fancy hotel trying to save money. I was friends with all the guys in American Authors, and once their tune “Best Day of My Life” started to take off in 2014, they hired me to play guitar, keys, mandolin, etc. I toured the world with them for a couple years and learned a lot about production, songwriting, and how the industry works. And I got to quit the hotel job, which was just glorious. I always kept plugging away as a solo artist in between the Authors tours. I started the Van Bellman project earlier this year to give myself a fresh start with a new band and alias. I released “I Hate To See You This Way” this summer and just followed up with a music video, both of which I produced independently with the help of some incredibly talented people.

SR: How would you describe your music style?

VB: Bluesy rock with some indie pop textures. Black Keys meets Jeff Buckley.

SR: What was the inspiration behind “I Hate To See You This Way”? What was the recording session like?

VB: The song is about watching someone you love go down a dark road, and you want to help them but you don’t know how. We cut the song at Mission Sound in Brooklyn with Oliver Straus, who is a wizard with drum sounds and big fat guitar tones. We did all the basics live in about five takes, and I added more textures like washboard, synths, oohs and ahhhs, etc in my home studio. I outsourced the vocal production to my friend Kyle Patrick, who has amazing ears and instincts for harmonies, layers, and performance.

SR: What inspired the music video concept for “I Hate To See You This Way”?

VB: I met the director Colter Longshore through some mutual friends and we were throwing ideas and storyboards around, and we sort of jinxed each other on this zombie love triangle concept. We watched tons of horror movies and music videos to get some ideas of how to make an awesome video within our budget. I knew exactly which of my friends should play what part immediately, and luckily everyone was down to drive to the Catskills in Upstate New York for a weekend, and knock it out in a day and a half.

SR: What was the filming for the music video for “I Hate To See You This Way” like? What was the most difficult part?

VB: We did lots of preproduction and planning for the shoot in early September; everyone had an amazing attitude and brought great ideas to the table during filming, which made for an efficient process. We got a bunch of noise complaints from the house next door during the performance scene, which was definitely a bit of a setback. And I had to get semi-naked with my friend Merrily for the final scene (moments before she gets her throat cut) while my girlfriend Andi took photos, which wasn’t not awkward. Wait til you see the blooper reel!

SR: Was it important for you to create a video as thought provoking and bold as the track itself?

VB: I wanted the video to be gloomy, sexy, and fun. The subject matter of the song is a bit serious, so we thought a darkly fun and campy video would juxtapose nicely with the song’s theme. The narrative of the video has a few winks and nods to some of my favorite horror movies, and also of course to the heyday of 90s era MTV.

SR: What do you want your listeners to take with them after seeing the music video?

VB: I want the video to be a captivating and compelling introduction to Van Bellman. And hopefully it leaves them wanting to hear more tunes and come check out a show.

SR: What can we expect next from you?

VB: They just started playing the song on SiriusXM’s AltNation Channel which is terribly exciting. I’m releasing songs one by one, so they each get to have their own little spotlight. I have a show in NYC at Rockwood Music Hall on November 7th, and after that more songs and more shows and hopefully more videos. Stay tuned!

Catch all the latest news on Van Bellman on his Official website

Photo Credit: Andi Kammerer