Band of the Day

2015.01.18

Charlie Belle

A welcomed update of the 90's English alternapop sound from a trio of Texan teens
I told you I loved you. You told me that’s exactly what you didn’t want me to do. Now there’s mud tracks from your shoes, wherever you went I didn’t get invited to.
lyrics from Get To Know

Charlie Belle is an Austin, Texas-based trio comprised of three teenagers with 30-plus years of music-making between them. The group, comprised of sister and brother Jendayi Bonds (vocals, guitar) and Gyasi Bonds (drums, vocals), and Zoe Czarnecki (bass), delivers a welcomed update of the 90’s English “alternapop” sound on its debut EP “Get To Know,” which will see a national release on January 13th, 2015. This fresh collection of catchy sing-alongs brings to mind The Sundays, Belly, and The Lemonheads (more popular in the UK than its native Boston, after all!) to name a few. Charlie Belle – named for the Bonds siblings’ great-grandmother – further sites Esperanza Spalding, The Strokes, and Arctic Monkeys as more contemporary influences. In fact, Jendayi hopes to co-write with Arctic Monkeys front man Alex Turner someday. At 16-years-old, Jendayi is the elder in Charlie Belle. Born in Atlanta, she picked up the guitar at seven years old after moving to Philadelphia, quickly began writing her own songs, and at the age of ten, formed Charlie Belle with Gyasi after relocating to Austin in 2008. In 2011, the then-duo covered “Strange Powers” (dang, these kids are cool!) for a series of videos related to the promotion of the documentary of the same name about The Magnetic Fields. Shot in Gyasi’s bedroom when he was just eight-years- old, the clip later landed them in USA Today. Soon after, Jendayi was interviewed by Amy Poehler as part of the comedienne’s “Smart Girls at the Party w/ Amy Poehler” web series and, at age 14, Jendayi fulfilled a personal goal when Charlie Belle was invited to perform at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, an appearance that became the jump-off point for the band as a live act in Austin. With Jendayi booking the shows, in the two years since, Charlie Belle has managed to become a must-see in a town where there is a band performing every night, left and right. To date, Charlie Belle has been seen on legendary stages like, The Cactus Café, Antone’s, The Paramount, Jovita’s, Kenny Durham’s Back Yard, and The Whip In as well as playing local festivals such as East Side Studio Tour, Ditch The Fest, Art Outside, The Big Stage Music Fest, and numerous day parties at South By Southwest. The ages of Charlie Belle’s band members are only an issue when it comes to limiting the choice of venues in which to play, but as far as audiences are concerned, Charlie Belle is a group of musicians, not a group of teenagers. That said, these are exceptional teenagers! Gyasi was only four when he began drum lessons and it didn’t take long to discover that he was a natural. The youthful energy of Gyasi’s funky pace- setting is what gives away his age – he turned 14 in November. Of course, talent only goes so far without ambition, but that isn’t an issue here. Upon meeting Donald Glover, Gyasi promptly suggested that Glover aim to host Saturday Night Live and push for Charlie Belle as his musical guest. Big dreams that get more plausible when hearing “Get To Know.” Gyasi also plays lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee, is a rower, and when asked if he could have any super power, his answer is “To be able to take your super powers away.” Smart kid. Bassist Czarnecki started out on her instrument when she was only eight. A driven and disciplined 14-year-old, the Austin native’s laid back bass lines on “Get To Know” defy the outgoing personality that also sees her playing Ultimate Frisbee (a passion among this band, it seems!), studying botany (“I want to be a bass playing botanist”), performing classical and jazz on upright bass in the school orchestra (Czarnecki’s bass is named Anneliese!), and volunteering for Meals On Wheels. Czarnecki, who despite her age came to Charlie Belle armed with a history of band experience, joined Jendayi and Gyasi to round out the trio in 2012. As Charlie Belle begins down the road towards national recognition with the national release of its debut EP, the band is continuing to get noticed at home. Just this fall, The Austin Chronicle named Jendayi the “Best ‘It’ Girl” in the paper’s annual “Best of Austin” issue, summing up their coverage with a simple statement: “Yup, she rocks.” We think you’ll agree.