In conversation with: Belia Winnewisser

Swiss artist Belia Winnewisser has just released her second album Soda via Präsens Editionen. The album follows the diversity in sound from her critically acclaimed debut LP Radikale Akzeptanz. A year of lockdowns without club nights allowed Belia to fully embrace her flair for pop and experimentalism, which resulted in more than a mere series of nods to different genres and acts. SODA—both as a resonant title and as a collection of music—is a direct call without hidden meanings or implicit references.

KALTBLUT caught up with Belia to discuss her EP and her connection to a soap manufacturer. Read the q&a below.

KALTBLUT: I’ve read that you were introduced to music by singing in a choir. Can you tell me a little bit about that?

Belia: Through the choir, I was mainly introduced to my voice, to specific kinds of harmonies, and also to spaces to sing in. I loved the sounds but didn’t enjoy singing there. Still, those sounds got deep into my bones and are a part of my music, like a legacy I can’t erase.

KALTBLUT: You’ve just released your sophomore LP Soda and similar to your debut LP, the album features a diverse genre pool. Is that something you do on purpose?

Belia: Yes and no. On the one hand, I feel I can’t and also don’t have to decide what genre I want to be producing music in. In a way, it’s just happening and I don’t try to change my output afterwards. On the other hand, I do like combining and mixing up sounds, beats, and structures. I’m also aware that as I chose this approach, I will always be in the in-between. This is sometimes a bit stressful. For example, I might feel a bit stressed out before concerts because I think people will expect something different than what I will play. Looking back, my combination of genres seems to be a bigger topic than I thought it would be. However, that also made me think about my approach a lot lately, and I think this is a very interesting process for me.

KALTBLUT: The album is also influenced by your day job at a Swiss soap manufacturer. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Belia: My job at the factory offers a balance in my life. It’s physical work, and I think my creative work and my music benefit from such a counterpart. It feels like I’m accumulating ideas and energy I can set free the rest of the week while working in my studio. This interplay of the physical and the creative work feels good and balanced and I think I would like to continue with it for some time.

KALTBLUT: You’ve finished the album earlier this year with the help of Cologne producer Phillip Jondo and the graphic designer Kaj Lehmann. What impact did those collaborations have on the album?

Belia: Working with Phillip Jondo was a bit of a coincidence. He is a good friend of mine and I sent him the album at an earlier stage to get some feedback. A few days later he was like: “I hear so many details and stuff I could maybe add, would you mind?” I was super excited and we started to send the tracks back and forth. At the end of February, he came to visit me in Zürich and we worked on finalising the tracks for a week. It was the best thing to do because we work very different. He added details and, as the final touch, gave the album the punch it needed. Working with Kaj Lehman for the artwork was very clear because of his particular approach to design. I had a specific idea for it, though. I was attracted to that old hardcore, happy hardcore, and gabber covers. I felt this aesthetic would fit the album very well. Kaj and I met and I explained my ideas and that at the same time it was very important to me that he still could be free in his way of creating—exactly like I was or the way I do: taking inspirations and transposing ideas in my way. He very much did the same and I’m unbelievably happy with the result.

KALTBLUT: What was your favourite track to produce?

Belia: I must admit, it is “So Real”! The song was produced by accident: Last year, I gave a producing workshop for young aspiring female producers. During the workshop, I started to talk about melodies, bass lines, etc… So I played some chords just to show them how the program was built and how easy it is to create stuff. Months later, I went to Norway to finish the album. Being alone in the forest, it was a bit hard to get started in the beginning. Somehow, I opened the project from the workshop again. One hour later the full track was made. I sung in the middle of the room, danced like crazy and I had so much fun just by myself, writing the most pop song I have ever made. The lyrics were dedicated to a good friend of mine. And now, I also love to perform this track. It makes me feel so real!

Buy/Stream Belia’s EP Soda on Bandcamp here.

Cover photo by Lëndita Kashtanjeva, post-production by Adelina Kasthanjeva and Shkelzen Konxheli

Belia’s socials:
Instagram: @lord.beliar
Facebook: @beliawinnewisser
Soundcloud: @beliawinnewisser