Bell's Roar
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Bell's Roar

Albany, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | INDIE

Albany, New York, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2014
Solo Alternative R&B




"VIDEO PREMIERE: With Their Latest Track & Video, bell's roar Honors The Black Lives Matter Movement And The Work of Local Activists - "Black Lives""

Today we're premiering the new video from bell's roar - 'Black Lives'. The track is from their forthcoming album, 'Second Chances Vol. 1' (out November 13th on Firebrand Records). bell's roar, aka Sean Desiree, tells us that "The video is in honor of the work of local activists and illustrates the ripples of grief felt throughout all of our communities." They add, "It is a show of devotion to the Black Lives Matter Movement." Their camp say, "The song captures a range of emotions within its colorful instrumentation. bell's roar writes music that speaks to their experiences with racism, being queer, etc. True to the DIY nature of the project, Sean Desiree filmed and edited the video themselves." Check out the video below. - Afropunk

"bell’s roar – Second Chances Vol. 1 (EP)"

Sean Desiree and bell’s roar continue to separate from the herd with ‘Second Chances Vol. 1’ EP

bell’s roar is one of the most interesting finds in the search for music to enjoy. First sparked by her ability to let her voice rise high without shouting in unnecessary fury, Sean Desiree delivers vocal performances that are touched in many genres. We can touch the base of Haley Williams of Paramore and Jill Scott. She comes into her own with the help of her earthbound band backing her every vocal. Her new EP ‘Second Chances Vol.1’ is the calm after the storm that was delivered during the storm. The ability of Sean Desiree’s soaring vocal skills rises to every occasion in a different light, while still providing substance. ‘Second Chances Vol. 1‘ EP will turn into a soothing and empowered listening experience. Consistent through every song, the energy level doesn’t seek much change in direction. There are moments of uproar but it’s done in a less demanding way, where bell is able to control the emotions she’s capturing.

Sean Desiree has opened up for artist like Chrisette Michelle, MS MR, Mirah, K Flay, and more. Her music is made to push back against white supremacy and voice her opinion on matters using her talents. You don’t have to travel far into the EP to realize the gift of Sean. It would be difficult to call her overrated due to her way of delivering music; it’s original refreshing. From the moment “Ancestors (Remix)” taps in, you sense that the band is unorthodox and so is Sean. Their unorthodox approach is what is appreciated most during the 6 tracks.

Sean Desiree and bell’s roar were able to deliver a stunning music video for their single “Black Lives.” The group are rebelling against the system in an organized manner. It’s difficult not to grow fond what they’re fighting for. - BluntIQ

"bell’s roar – “Slow” (Remix)"

Hailing from Albany, New York, bell’s roar is here with a new sound like nothing you’ve ever heard before. Indie rock meets synthpop and soul with her own personal touch on bell’s roar latest, “Slow (Remix),” released on Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine’s record label Firebrand Records. Making music that pushes back against white supremacy, bell’s roar is speaking with a voice that demands to be heard and will surely spark a change when it reaches the right minds. With her new EP due out November 13th and a track record opening up Chrisette Michelle, MS MR, K Flay and Mirah, bell’s roar has a bright future ahead of her. Hop on the wave now before you miss it. - Chris Brown's blog Mechanical Dummy

"Sean Desiree (bell’s roar) for LOOTxRIOT"

Consciousness, it quakes the earth. Inspired by the life’s work of social activist, author, and feminist bell hooks, 2015’s synth pop performer Sean Desiree (bell’s roar) promises to move mountains with her new project Second Chances Vol. 1, available to the universe November 13th on Rage Against The Machine/Audioslave front man Tom Morello’s Firebrand Records.

Written by Tone Swep
Spearheaded by the echoing uptempo chill wave track “Slow”, the EP strongly suggests the graffiti painting of Desiree’s name on the indie rock wall of modern artistry. The multi-talented drummer, bassist, producer, songwriter, and vocalist appeals to the passionate, challenging the spirit to an awakened marathon of meaning as counter option to today’s status quo convention of societal sleep walking; just going through the motions in slow-motion, without emotion. Catch the artist on tour and experience her stream dreams live this concert season. - Loot Riot

"Follow Your Arrow: Musician and Furniture Maker Sean Desiree on Small Steps Towards Big Dreams"

As we’re seeing often in Follow Your Arrow, making a living from your passions is rarely easy, and for artists and musicians the journey towards successfully selling something so personal can be especially challenging.

In this interview, musician Sean Desiree — who alone makes up all parts of the indie band bell’s roar — explains how they juggle being a musician by day with running a furniture-making business by night, how they learned to deal with rejection, and what’s it’s like being a queer person of colour in an industry and genre dominated by straight white men.

On a personal note, I first saw bell’s roar at Gay Bi Gay Gay in Austin earlier this year and was blown away. Sean’s music is powerful and moving and has this amazing resonance that stays with you, deep in your bones and blood, long after the song ends. I fully recommend hitting the play button below as you read through this interview!
Sean Desiree, Musician and Furniture Maker
Age 32, Albany, NY


Hi Sean! Can you describe what you do? What’s your mission? Who do you serve?

I make up the band bell’s roar. I’m the guitarist, bassist, drummer, producer, and vocalist. I guess you can say it’s a freelance music project. Along with that I’m a furniture maker and the owner of South End Pallet Works.

The source of the name, bell’s roar comes from black feminist writer bell hooks. I wanted the name to reference something I stand for. Roar represents the fight/push back against white supremacy and speaking my truth. The purpose is self-expression and being a voice in the movement for social justice. By choosing to pursue music, I’m adding QPOC visibility to a predominately white indie rock world.

Trying to simultaneously work a 9-5 and be available for opportunities that come along with music is difficult. I started making furniture about two years ago as a way to support myself and free myself up to tour. I mainly make coffee, dining and conference tables out of pallet wood. I list them on Etsy and ship them to my customers.

How would you describe your approach to business? Are you super smart and professional, a big planner, are you just totally winging it? What personal qualities inform your approach?

Music has made my tolerance for rejection extremely high. Because of it I’m not afraid to ask the question, whether it’s about booking me or writing about me. Sure it stings sometimes, but in order to give myself the opportunity I have to push through it. I deserve to be here and be doing what I love. I get hyper focused and can often neglect other things I have to do, like eating or going to the bathroom, etc. You know: the essentials. Having a partner (Alisa) and kid (Aurora) helps me to keep focused on what’s most important.

ep recording

What does a typical day look like for you? Do you have a routine? What kind of things do you actually do? How many hours a week do you spend working on your business? What is your workspace like?

8am: Bring Aurora and Alisa to school

9-11am: Book shows, make a press prelease or any other music management related tasks

11-1pm: Record music and rehearse

2pm: Talk to neighbors

3-6pm: Pick up Aurora from school, help with homework and hangout with family.

6:30: Search for pallet wood behind plumbing store, supermarkets & through craigslist ads

7:30-10:30pm: Go to wood shop to work on an order or experiment and make something new.

Because I have two projects, I spend about 60 hours a week working in some capacity. My music space is setup at home with just a computer, interface, guitar, bass guitar, and mic. I use the woodshop at a maker space, called Tech Valley Center of Gravity in Troy, NY.


When did you know that this was what you wanted to do? And what were your early goals, your first steps?

I was drawn to music at an early age, seeing my mother sing in the political rock/soul band New Voices of Freedom. Having a supportive mother was a privilege because she helped me get my first instruments and lessons. My early steps were to keep experimenting with music and coming up with sounds that resonated with my aesthetic. Within that time I taught myself how to record and produce independently. I didn’t want to rely on anyone to be able to complete my vision.

Once my debut EP starting coming together I found it more and more difficult to try to play shows and work. I quit my job at the NYS Tax Department and was unsure of how to support my family and myself. That’s when table making came to me. I tried it and it was like a gift that came out of nowhere. Art is one of those things you have to give all of yourself to in order to build a career out of it.

Why do you do this? What makes you spring out of bed in the morning? What’s the best thing about the work you do?

We all have interests and passions within us. I just love the creativity involved in making music and now furniture. I’m excited to hear what will come out and I get to really listen to myself. Working with my creative pursuits heals trauma and builds community unlike anything else I’ve done.

And the worst?

The rejection from promoters, festivals and writers can be discouraging at times, but I know it is part of the process. Also, when I perform sometimes I feel quite vulnerable and nervous.

What are the key challenges you face in your work? What are your tactics for overcoming these?

Getting press to pay attention and finding promoters/venues that will book you. They are flooded with bands and standing out poses a challenge. I have to consider if people are homophobic, transphobic, racist, etc as well. I try my best to find communities that can identify with me. Also, not getting discouraged by my own self-doubt. Sometimes I question if I’m good enough or am I crazy for wanting to pursue music. Being your own worst enemy is real.

How do you approach time management?

By making lists and sometimes coming up with a schedule for the day.


Where would you like to see yourself in five, ten years’ time?

5 years – Not being stressed about money is a big goal. I want to support my family and myself without constantly worrying. I hope the risk of committing to what I love pays off.

10 years – Being able to support and give back to the community. I want to open a recording studio that allows musicians to record for free and youth to learn about the process. I will donate my performances and money to grassroots organizations that support women, LGBTQGNC and people of color communities. I see so many ways the musicians who have “made it” can give back, but they seem to fall short. I hope to be doing all that I can.

How do you market your business?

By playing shows, sending press releases and some social media. For this upcoming album I’m going to work with a PR agent for the first time. I hope it helps. For South End Pallet Works I use local media and Etsy and word of mouth.

What’s the most valuable tool in your kit?

Voice and chop saw.


How does being LGBTQ impact your business (if at all)? Do you mention it, make a big deal out of it, hide it, not really think about it…?

It’s a big part of my identity within music. I seek to perform in spaces that support LGBTQGNC people. I find it important to connect with my community through my music. I just had a show on the tour I just finished that was mainly a cis, white audience. During the performance I felt quite emotional because it didn’t feel as if people understood, or could relate to, the things I speak about in my music, such as gender identity and the Black Lives Matter movement. I immediately left and cried in my car. That show reminded me why being surrounded by my community is extremely important to me.

bell's roar black lives press

What three websites, blogs, books or people do you rate for business advice or ideas about musicianship?

I read the blog posts that Sonicbids puts out that give tips to musicians and I find it helpful.
I read the bios of artists I appreciate to learn how they established a successful music career.
I constantly bug my partner for advice on flyers, music and everything really. Because it’s a solo project I don’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of most of the time. For that I am really grateful she tolerates my questions and is honest in her critique.

What’s your hot tip for queer women who want to start their own business?

Starting a business is scary and, contrary to the oversimplified narrative that anyone can do it, it has a lot to do with privilege. Our world is not setup to support people’s individual dreams as means for survival. If you’re able to balance supporting yourself and fully committing to your idea, go for it. If you can’t do it fully, take small steps and try to make the time for yourself amongst all of your responsibilities. Starting a business comes with sacrifices like initial loss of income or moving from an expensive city, etc, but sacrifice is worth it for your happiness. - Autostraddle

"TRACK REVIEW: Bell’s Roar “Slow (Remix)”"

Bronx-based Bell’s Roar is an artist creating music meant for change. The name of Sean Desiree’s solo project, on her single “Slow (Remix)” off her album Second Chances Vol. 1, she blends soul and synth pop to create an intricate and moving track complemented by soothing vocals. Desiree is a drummer, vocalist, bassist, and producer, a multi-treat creating a sultry and intelligent slice of music. The track opens with pulsating and hypnotic rhythms, and then appears her voice, escalating and chanting “Here it goes…around again…” The energy of New York City is often pure hustle, everything is done and said with urgency. It’s lovely to hear such a calm track with sage words reminding us to “take it slow…” Beyond creating songs you want to listen to on the subway home to clear your head from a busy work week, most of Bell’s Roar’s material on the upcoming EP contains an important political nature, causing many to call the upcoming artist one of the important voices of our time.

Bell’s Roar has a sophomore EP due out November 13th. You can check out Bell’s Roar U.S tour dates here.

In the mean time, listen to “Slow (Remix)” below. - Audiofemme

"bell’s roar: Loud & Clear"

I first heard Sean Desiree, AKA bell’s roar, almost a year ago from a friend who was trying to get me into SoundCloud. I heard her song “One Shot” and was drawn in by the clarity of her voice and intent of the lyrics. It’s so rare to find queer-conscious singers and songwriters, and bell’s is definitely one of them. When it came time to plan out Southern Fried Queer Pride, bell’s name was listed constantly as someone people wanted to come perform and I knew I had to have her at SFQP.

Between then and now, a few things have changed: bell’s roar has signed to Firebrand Records, the name label from Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, and she’s also gearing up to release her next EP, Second Chances Vol. 1. I recently got to ask bell’s about her upcoming projects and background.

Where did your name come from?

It started with my love and respect for the Black feminist writer bell hooks; I wanted the name to reference what I stand for. Roar represents the fight / push back against white supremacy and speaking my truth.

What inspires your work? Do any musicians or certain influences stand out?

Musically, the guitar and voice is my biggest inspiration. I love layering guitar and coming up with rhythms and harmonies that fit together. It's been a journey to find my singing voice, but I've been fortunate enough to have the time and space to experiment and figure out what works best for me. As far as my words, they speak to my experience and identity in the world. I feel moved and influenced by the melodies in Negro spirituals and the Blues. I don't have a direct contemporary musical influence, but acts I like are Little Dragon, Radiohead, Bjork, and TV on The Radio.

You recently signed with Firebrand Records. How has that experience been?

The experience has been great. In my opinion, it's always a bit stressful to sign to a record label because you lose a bit of control in hopes of gaining more exposure. I don't feel like I have to sacrifice much and I get to control how I'm represented. It's more of a political artist collective that supports each other.

You're prepping for the release of your next EP, titled Second Chances Vol. 1. Why title it "second chances"?

My drummer/keyboardist Joshua Gruft and I started experimenting with songs off my self-titled EP and we loved the different sounds we created. It's essentially a remix album that I saw as a way to give myself another go with some of the songs creatively, hence the title. There are four remixes and two originals that came out of it. I want to keep making remixes of each album I do and build up a collection of volumes. I really enjoy the different directions music can go in depending on who you're working with.

Do you have a favorite track from the album?

Hmm, it's hard to say. I guess I would pick “Black Lives” because of the content, and it expresses the pain and anger I'm feeling about the current social and political climate for Black people in this country. It's been helpful to articulate those feelings and share it with others. I'm releasing it as a single on October 23rd.

Besides gearing up to release Second Chances, what else is on your plate this month? I understand you're doing a tour.

My tour begins with a queer New York Fashion Week event at the Brooklyn Museum. I'm not performing, but modeling for the designer Sun Sun. I've never modeled before, but I thought it would be a good challenge for me and a place where I can feel comfortable expressing my gender. After that, I'm heading to Pittsburgh, Detroit, Chicago, Winona, Bemidji, Minneapolis, and Boston to play actual shows. . . Also, I just finished the music video for the first single, “Slow.” I'm working on one for “Black Lives.” The album comes out on November 6th. - Wussy Mag

"bell’s roar – a loud and persistent voice in the fight for social justice"

bell’s roar is the music project of Sean Desiree. Originally from the Bronx in New York City, she now lives Upstate in Albany with her family, where she’s involved in various projects.

She has been making music for a long time, first playing in the band Broadcast Live. After that, she began to develop more of her own sound and started writing her own songs. In the beginning, she just used a guitar and her voice, but gradually she also became the drummer, bassist and ultimately the producer. Now she even makes her own music videos. Very DIY, really great.

For her self titled debut EP that came out in 2014, she teamed up with Cedar Apffel from Natureboy/Two Twins, who rearranged the songs she had previously recorded by herself. She also toured and recorded with Kiran Gandhi, who also drums for M.I.A., and her partner Alisa Sikelianos-Carter sometimes helps out with the lyrics and makes the cover artworks for bell’s roar.

Her first album is going to be released in November 2015 on Firebrand Records, the same label as Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) and Ryan Harvey (Riot-Folk Collective). This label and bell’s roar seem like the perfect fit, since they both combine music with political and activist ideas.

Sean Desiree also runs South End Pallet Works where she builds furniture out of used pallets and is part of the organizing team for Upstate Ladyfest.
TQU: Why did you choose bell’s roar to be your name as a musician?

br: I wanted the name to represent parts of my identity and reference the sound of my music; bell came from black feminist writer bell hooks. She is someone who stands against white supremacy, misogyny and celebrates love and black culture. Bells are also simple and beautiful instruments, but are given great importance in various ceremonies. The roar represents the lyrics and energy in the music. It’s my loud and persistent voice in the fight for social justice.
TQU: You say that your songs, like the texts by bell hooks, deal with the intersections of race, capitalism, and gender in the US and how they perpetuate systems of oppression. For people that are not too familiar with the system in the US, how would you describe the situation?

br: The US was built on genocide, racism, greed and patriarchy. Starting from that toxic foundation completely influences how the decedents of indigenous, black and brown people, immigrants, and women are treated here today. America is in denial of how racist it is and that’s why it isn’t able to progress beyond a certain point. The Black Lives Matter Movement is a clear response to the incessant racism black people are faced with everyday. It is a fact that black people are killed at a higher rate by police and are incarcerated at a higher rate for the same “crimes” as white people. If it’s not racism, what else is it? It’s nonsensical when people defend this system. It’s because it works for them, not because racism doesn’t exist.
TQU: What came first your musical or your political ideas? Can you separate the two?

br: It’s hard to separate the two, but I think music came first, because we were indoctrinated at school and it took a long time to get over that. It takes a long time to reverse the brain washing and selective education that takes place in the schools in the US. We still celebrate Christopher Columbus for heaven’s sake. That’s horrendous. Imagine the lies and the glossing over of the truth that has to happen in order for us to make this person seem like a hero. This is just one example of a bigger problem. It’s a process to heal from that miseducation. Being radical and loving myself is a continual practice.
TQU: Music journalists seem to be having a hard time to place your music. How would you describe it?

br: I usually put myself in the same category as Indie Rock or Synth Pop because you do have to choose. It’s best to describe it by what’s present in the music, which is layers of guitar harmonies, a “soulful” voice, colorful synths and an unexpected bass line.
TQU: I’ve been writing about and doing a lot of research into ‚queer music‘ over the past ten years and people often ask me what ‚queer music‘ means. For me, that’s mostly the idea of breaking with stereotypes in a political as well as a musical way. From the historical perspective, queer people have always been initiating new trends in most artistic fields. I think that that is mainly because we don’t necessarily fit into or even want to fit into mainstream society and are breaking the mainstream rules in our daily lives. That that is what makes it easier for us to also break stereotypes in terms of genres as well and gives us more possibilities to think outside the box. Do you have any thoughts about that?

br: I agree. I don’t think queer music is a genre in and of itself, but a way of thinking about and approaching music. Just because a musician is LGBT doesn’t make their music queer music. Queer is not something that adheres to societal norms. It makes us free to define ourselves on our own terms.
TQU: You write all your music yourself, but then you’re also collaborating with a lot of people. What do you like most about working on your own and about those collaborations?

br: Having a solo project is the most important thing to me. I would never be able to complete my vision if I were consistently working with other people to write music. I need a space that’s my own where I don’t have to compromise, edit out or withhold my thoughts. My ideal is to write everything myself and at the very end have a producer that I love help me take it even further. That’s what happened for my debut EP. I wrote the music then Cedar Apffel helped me produce it to enhance the quality. It was really a gift.

Collaborating is something I enjoy as well because it’s something original to that group of people. It allows me to make music I wouldn’t think to do alone. On this upcoming album I collaborated with Joshua Gruft. He played synths and drums and I played guitar, bass and some synths as well.
TQU: In a different interview you said that it’s very important for you to create your own scene. You seem very active at that with all your endeavors, whether with your music, your wood work or organizing Ladyfest. Maybe you have a nice story to share that makes all these efforts worthwhile?

br: Yes. The day after the second Ladyfest Upstate I organized in Albany someone who attended wrote me on Facebook. She expressed how she hadn’t danced in public for as long as she could remember because of being made fun of in the past and being self conscious. She was able to dance for the first time in a safe space without feeling judged. That meant a lot to me because it confirmed the necessity of creating a safe space.
TQU: You released your first EP in 2014 and your new remix album will be coming out in November 2015. What will be different, what has changed since the first EP, what have you learned in the meantime?

br: This latest one is a collaboration with Joshua Gruft. He plays drums with me at some of my live shows and he just started coming up with ideas for remixes. I really loved the direction and began adding to it. In the process, we came up with two original songs. I definitely feel my skills as a musician, song writer and producer continue to grow. I’m excited for my first full length album coming out in 2016. I want to continue to feel inspired and push myself.
TQU: Is there a tour coming up to accompany the release of the album?

br: Yes, I’ll be touring through California and making a stop in Baltimore. You can find all the tour dates at I hope to tour in Europe next summer 2016.
TQU: You just released the video for Slow (remix). Can you tell us a little bit about the idea behind the song and video?

br: I wanted to film something simple that captured queer love in a normalized way. My partner, visual artist Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, actually came up with the idea. I borrowed a camera from a friend and I had to wake up periodically throughout the night to get the sunrise. It took just a few hours to edit the footage. It was the easiest film project I’ve ever done.

TQU: Also, out of personal interest, from what I’ve read, the only time you toured outside of the US you toured Germany? Any special reason?

br: It’s really just because a youth group from Chemnitz brought my first band, Broadcast Live, over to facilitate writing workshops for a theater project. I figured I should play some solo shows while I was there. I maintained a relationship with some organizers and came back. Now that I’m more settled in my music I would love to come back. I had an amazing time. - Transnational Queer Underground

"Bell’s Roar – “Slow (remix)”"

Here is a truly exciting, truly inspirational artist, with tunes ready to embed themselves in your memory, and messages set to define a generation. Here is Bell’s Roar, the name of Sean Desiree’s solo project, which combines musical grace and skill with themes that demand to be heard. This is evident on the single, “Slow (Remix)” from her upcoming EP, which blends dynamic soundscapes with gentleness. Graceful vocals play against a demanding rhythm. This track is at once fun and dreamy. A love song for a rain storm.

The track is indicative of the EP, titled Second Chances Vol. 1, which will be released on November 13th, 2015. With four remixes and two original tracks, Bell’s Roar manages to bring enormous passion into the quiet beauty of dreampop. Her track, “Black Lives” brings a lyrical intelligence in weighted moments. “Ancestors (Remix)” carries a pulse, while “Step Up, Step Back (Remix)” is a commanding vocal feat. In “Passing Down” we get pure harmonic joy and a smooth jam to top it off. This album is worth taking note of, I promise you.

To hear more from Bell’s Roar, you can check out her Facebook, SoundCloud, and website, or check out this list of American tour dates! - New Sick Music

""One Shot" Is A Synthpop Pondering On Gender"

Up-and-coming New York-based artist Bell’s Roar, the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist Sean Desiree, just released a new single, and it’s definitely worth a listen. A synthpop-inflected ode to gender nonconformity, “One Shot” is pretty well summed up by Desiree herself.

“I’ve got the weight of the world / One shot, a boy or a girl? / I choose me over you.”

The single falls in line with much of the conversation on the national stage regarding gender identity, and with hit series like the new Transparent from Amazon Prime, thematically, “One Shot” couldn’t be more on point. But Desiree’s approach to it all is refreshingly more personal than politics.

Catch her on an indie Northeast tour with Cihuatl Ce this winter/spring (see them in New York City on November 17), where they’ll then round it off at Ladyfest Upstate. - Next Magazine

"Voice of the Pride"

The cover of Sean Desiree’s debut EP depicts a lion wearing a collar of tiny bells. Designed by her partner Alisa Sikelianos-Carter, it’s a visualization of Desiree’s stage name, Bell’s Roar, itself a kind of metaphor for the identity Desiree has begun crafting with the project. Handmade and printed on fabric made from melted plastic bags, the record, the name, and the project are all expressions of a vision that is at once personal and political. When the Bronx-raised/Albany-based musician releases the record tonight (Thursday) at the Low Beat, followed by a queer dance party in honor of Pride Week’s closing weekend, the project will become social.

“It’s $10,” she says, “but if you can’t afford to go, just let me know. I’ll put you on the list. It’s more important that people go.”

R&B lioness: Sean Desiree. Photo by Yuliya Peshkova.

When she styles her stage name all-lowercase (bell’s roar), it’s a little easier to see where the project finds its philosophical roots. “It came from bell hooks,” she says of the author and social theorist celebrated for work addressing the intersection of race, gender, sexuality and capitalism. “I’ve read her stuff and like her ideas around race and gender. [Bell’s Roar] gives a sense of what I’m about. Some artists don’t express [their political identity] but I think it’s important.”

On Desiree’s debut, however, politics are more context than content, a broad framework for subtle, inward-looking lyricism. It’s easy to hear her musical roots on the record’s six tracks, voice and clean electric guitar tones figuring as the gravitational center for midtempo dance beats and electronics. If Bell’s Roar had a Pandora station, two names would cycle through on heavy rotation: Santigold and Blood Orange. “If I could ideally collaborate with someone it would be Devonte Hynes,” she says of the British R&B singer who performs as Blood Orange. “His guitar parts are similar to mine.” However, Desiree’s tracks are decidedly more downtempo, danceable but, as she says, equally suited to “the living room or headphones.” To these ears, the approach recalls King Krule’s synthesis of jazz guitar with rock and hip-hop.

The lead track “Slow” moves according to its namesake, building patiently from cyclical guitars before including syncopated bass and drums. It’s a sensibility that producer Cedar Apfell associated with post-rock but, unlike that orchestral genre, Bell’s Roar is largely a solo project, crafted on the digital workstation Logic. “I did a demo on Logic just teaching myself,” she says. “I was playing guitar and singing and could hear other things in my head but didn’t necessarily know how to do it. It took a couple years to figure out actually what I wanted to sound like and be able to do it.” Desiree has called the resolutely DIY record “an album about love and running away and resistance.” Although she has plans to collaborate more in the future and build a touring band, she also insists that keeping it simple helps keep personal vision clear. The only guest she used for the record was drummer Kiran Gandhi.

“I met her through Tom Tom magazine, a magazine about female drummers,” says Desiree. “We did a couple events with Mindy, my friend who runs the magazine. A couple months after that she got the job drumming for M.I.A.’s touring band.” Tonight, she’ll perform with live drums but ultimately wants to build a large enough live act to free her from guitar duties. “I like to be free to move around.”

It’s not a coincidence that Desiree chose this week to release her record. “I want the show to be about more than just me,” she says, using Pride Week to help carve out and catalyze a local music scene for LGBT audiences of color. “Generally, Pride is pretty commercialized. I’m not particularly into a lot of the artists they get for that. I think they could be better about getting artists that resonate with more age groups. So it’s nice to have an alternative one for people to go to.” Sikelianos-Carter (dancealisadance) and Wildecrist will DJ the Queer Dance Party to follow, while local beatmaker Palemen will open.

Photo by Yuliya Peshkova.

“I’m doing my own thing, what I think sounds good,” Desiree says, but as self-determined as the Bell’s Roar project is, she’s acutely aware of her art’s relationship to community. Last year, she helped launch Ladyfest Upstate, “A music and arts festival featuring women, trans and gender nonconforming artists.” She has another event in the works for this summer.

“It’s just not going to be a good experience if I’m not in a space where I feel safe or comfortable,” she says. “There are certain places where I’m not going to perform because it’s not inclusive or blatantly homophobic.” Fortunately, Desiree sees a shift happening in the music industry in the wake of R&B singer Frank Ocean’s rise to prominence and honesty regarding his bisexuality. “Any artist, athlete, actor, etc. being honest about their sexuality makes an impact,” she says. Ocean likely paved the way for artists like Le1f, Mykki Blanco, Azealia Banks and Big Freedia to make similar ascents. Ultimately, though, she says, “I think it’s more important for yourself to be open rather than other people. To live in fear is scarier to me than being out.”

“You’ve got to create your own scene,” she says, “because you can’t always find it or you’re not always going to be selected. It also gives me another way to be creative.”

Bell’s Roar will perform tonight (June 12) at the Low Beat (335 Central Ave., Albany) at 7 PM. Tickets are $10 and come with a copy of the new EP. - Metroland Alternative Weekly

"Sean Desiree Explains The Origins & Themes of ‘Bell’s Roar EP’"

Bell’s Roar began with just a guitar and a voice. Over the years Sean Desiree has transformed her solo project by fully taking advantage of her skills as a drummer, bassist, and ultimately a producer. Her approach to music is DIY not because of its aesthetic, but because of how she keeps her voice ever-present. The music is rooted in a melodic feel, but the beats transform her songs into energetic and dynamic electronic compositions.

Her debut Bell’s Roar EP is a forceful and sensitive collection of six beautiful and personal songs and which was recently mentioned in our Underdog column. Elements of loopy post-rock guitars, hip-hop beats, and R&B vocals combine with an ease and minutia equity suited for the dance floor, living room, or headphones. If the talent Sean Desiree shows on this debut is any indication of what is to come, we will be hearing a lot from her. The vocals, guitar layering and synth-driven beats are best described as synth-pop/post-rock/soul. The album also features Kiran Gandhi, MIA’s drummer for her Matangi tour.

Sean Desiree recently spoke to me about the origins and themes of the EP, develop her own sound, dissecting song meanings, and the key to turning the EP into the final product and much more.

On your Bandcamp, you describe yourself as an instrumentalist. On songs like “Slow” and “Step Up, Step Back”, how many of the instruments are you playing? Which is your favorite to play?
On “Slow” and “Step Up, Step Back” I play mostly everything you hear. I play the guitar, bass, synths, and do backup vocals. The drums on “Step Up, Step Back” are synths. The drums on “Slow” are a mixture of both synths and live drums done by Cedar Apffel, the producer, and myself. There’s a bass synth line in “Slow” and a guitar part in “Cover in Red” and “I Know” that was added in by Cedar. My favorite instruments are guitar and drums.

To me, your music is gorgeous thanks in no small part to how minimal it is. The most obvious elements are the click track, the guitar, and your voice. Is this minimalism intentional, used to convey maximum emotion, or is it just a symptom of your songwriting approach?
It’s just the way I write music. I think because my music started as a singer-songwriter project with just guitar and vocals, those two end up getting highlighted.

Your guitar tone is really incredible. It’s dreamy, emotive, and a tad unsettling, but it’s also restrained and tense, feeling like it could explode forward at any given moment. How do you achieve this – is it a recording technique, guitar pedals, etc.?
I’m in love with the sound of the guitar. I layer harmonies and rhythms on top of each other and seek to find points of harmony and dissonance. A lot of my songwriting takes place in the wee hours and I think that’s conducive to allowing yourself to be emotionally vulnerable. Cedar and I worked together to craft the actual texture of the guitar.

The way you apply guitar in your songs seems like it might be informed by jazz and soul music. What kind of music did you listen to in your formative years? Did this music lead you to pick up the guitar, or did you start with a different instrument and make the transition later?
My early childhood was filled with music of my parents and grandparents’ generation. Motown, jazz, soca, disco and R&B were the most present. I first picked up the guitar to play songs by bands like No Doubt and Nirvana.
Bell's Roar band

Your voice is incredibly flexible, and you have a great sense of command over it. Were you ever formally trained? If not, how did you form your voice into the powerful instrument it is today?
I never really believed in my voice and was incredibly shy about it. I played in another band before this in which I rarely sung. It wasn’t until I started writing music for myself that I began to develop my own sound and confidence. I was never formally trained but would like to do that. I believe my voice has a lot more to offer.

When I listen to your music, I’m reminded only tangentially of other musicians – even though Bell’s Roar is still a relatively new project, you’ve already given it its own unique sound. This makes your influences difficult to pinpoint, but I’m interested in knowing what genres and musicians they are since they’ve resulted in such a specific sound.
I don’t feel like I’m truly influenced by a particular sound. There are bands I like, such as Santigold, Radiohead, Lauryn Hill, etc., but I don’t see myself as them. I feel like my uniqueness comes from years of building my ideas and writing everything myself. There’s not that much outside influence with my project, so it’s a genuine expression of myself. Of course I am influenced by others but it’s not in such a direct way. I am finding it challenging to not fit into a genre because most bookers, music bloggers, etc. want to know how to place you and to make comparisons.

Your name is a tribute to feminist writer bell hooks. How has her writing affected your lyricism? Has she affected how you approach creating music?
My writing to some extent. I read her because she speaks about issues that reflect my core beliefs. She focuses on the intersections of race, capitalism, and gender and how they perpetuate systems of oppression. My lyrics have that theme and I allow myself to speak freely about being queer because I will not let the music industry oppress my self-expression.

It’s clear that Cedar Apffel, who produced your album and has produced many others, did a great job here. How significant was his contribution to the final mood and sound of the album? What exactly did he contribute?
He was key to turning it into the final product. I came to him with demos that I made with Logic Pro and the quality was ok, but not great. All I had at my disposal were Logic amp samples and synth sounds. I was planning on releasing it just as that, but he really loved the music and wanted to re-record everything. So within the course of meeting maybe 8 times I re-recorded all guitar, bass and vocals with him creating the tone. He also added his ideas as far as arrangement. I am greatly appreciative of that because I’m doing this alone and sometimes I’m unsure and need constructive criticism.

Apart from the dreaminess and minimalism in your music, I feel like there’s a good amount of sadness and ache in it. Do you do this to match the mood of your lyrics? Is it a result of the tone, space, and tempo you give your guitar? Is it some of both?
The guitar is usually the basis of my songs and it is where I get the tone. The music sometimes works with the mood of the music and sometimes it has nothing to do with it. “I Know” is an example of music first and lyrics second. The music has a lot of energy and happiness while the lyrics are about abuse. “Slow” is where they work well together. There’s a lot of emotion in both. I think a lot of mainstream music uses the formula of having the two match, but I believe conveying a message while getting people to dance is powerful.
Bell's Roar

It really does seem like these lyrics are incredibly personal to you. In listening to the EP, I had trouble pinpointing which track is closest to your heart. So I want to ask, which of these songs holds the most meaning for you?
It’s between “Slow”, “I Know” and “Ancestors.” “Slow” is obviously about the love of my life. “I Know” is about my experience with abuse. “Ancestors” is a tribute to the lives of my ancestors. “I Know” may have a bit more meaning because it’s something I don’t talk about publicly but was able to write about.

The new album has extensive use of vocal harmonies. When you’re writing your lyrics, do you ever imagine certain words being sung by more than one layer of voice, or is that a decision you make after crafting the instrumental?
It’s both. Pretty soon after I have the lyrics or melody other sounds come into my head. Cedar and Alisa [Sikelianos-Carter, my partner] also added in ideas.

I think one of the most interesting and universally relatable lyrics comes from “Covered in Red”: “You can’t pay me to be/something that I can’t see/and if you’re like that/you better fight back.” It’s a lyric that could be applied to all sorts of situations in life, and the song’s other lyrics suggest what specifically you’re talking about, but I’d like you to elaborate on it more now, if you can.
The song has two meanings really, or it’s two songs in one. I have the most difficult time with lyrics. I love writing the music and melody for vocals but sometimes I have my partner, Alisa Sikelianos-Carter help me write the lyrics. The song started out being about my tendency to shutdown in relationships. I sometimes have a hard time being vulnerable and will hold back my feelings. I’m trying to overcome that. The lyrics you brought up were from the other version talking about societies brainwashing and oppression. However, they relate because most of my fear of being open comes from my fear of judgement and feeling less than.

Is the title “Covered in Red” implying that you’re covered in blood? To me, none of the lyrics in the song could suggest that, but I want to know if I’ve missed something.
This song was revised a few times and the original version had a chorus with lyrics that talked about being covered in red as being covered in blood. Once the lyrics got removed I never thought of redoing the title. I loved the name and the song just became “Covered in Red” no matter what the lyrics were.

How has your sound changed since Bell’s Roar started? Do you have any sort of future vision for it, or are you just going to take your creativity as it comes to you?
It has expanded from my voice and guitar to a more realized vision of my music. This initial EP gets out the concept of the project, but I believe further development of who I am as a musician will only bring forth more creativity.

In the years that Bell’s Roar has been alive, how often have you played live? Have you toured at all? Do you have any upcoming shows planned?
I have performed live pretty rarely up until this point. I have done 2 short tours, one in the Northwest and the other in Germany. Now that I released my first album I plan on spending a lot of my time booking and performing. I would love to sustain myself off of doing what I love. To get to that point I have to introduce people to my music and hopefully it resonates. - Way Too Indie

"10 Most Hyped Tracks of 2014 So Far"

One of a number of incredible finds from the last six months that has been a regular fixture on the ilovepie stereo. Bell’s Roar is smart, sassy, and soulful in equal measure. Certainly someone you should be adding to your ones to watch list for the coming year. - ilovepie

"Bell’s Roar Releases Single “Slow”"

“Slow” is the first single off the new Bell’s Roar record by songwriter and vocalist Sean Desiree, released May 6, 2014. It’s a bright and sensitive song that hits the heart from the first strum of the guitar. This track is a perfect introduction to Sean’s dreamy guitar layering and vocal melodies. It’s a great start to this exciting and personal new six song self-titled record, which is out June 17th. “Slow” was mastered by Palemen. Bell’s Roar will be performing at this years Northside Music Festival on June 14th at Pete’s Candy Store in Brooklyn, NY.
Multi instrumentalist Sean Desiree’s debut EP Bells Roar is a forceful and sensitive collection of six beautiful and personal songs. Elements of loopy post-rock guitars, hip hop beats, and R and B vocals combine with an ease and minutia equity suited for the dance floor, living room, or headphones. If the talent Sean Desiree shows on this debut is any indication of what is to come we will be hearing a lot from her. The vocals, guitar layering and synth-driven music beats are best described as synth-pop/post-rock/soul. The album also features Kiran Gandhi, MIA’s drummer for her Matangi tour. All songs written and performed by Bell’s Roar. Produced, engineered and mixed by Cedar Apffel. All music was recorded at Cedar Apfell’s Alligator Lady Studio in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. “Slow” was mastered by Palemen. Artist Alisa Sikelianos-Carter will create cover art. - Tom Tom Magazine

"Introducing: Bell's Roar"

Introducing New York based songwriter and vocalist Bell’s Roar aka Sean Desire. With a sound that combines gentle smooth beats with a hauntingly beautiful vocal to create a truly hypnotic sound which is full of attitude and confidence. Bell’s Roar is certainly someone that you should be keeping an eye on.

Tracks such as ‘Covered in Red’ seem to take influence from the likes of fellow New Yorkers The Strokes with its wandering guitar melody and rhythmic drum beat. While new track ‘Slow’ is a gentle and somewhat melancholic track which shows off Sean’s beautiful vocal. - ilovepie

"Bell's Roar"

Slow is the first single from singer-songwriter Bell’s Roar. It’s a bright and delicate from the very first guitar strum, and this dreamy mix of guitars and vocal melodies are an exciting introduction to her new self-titled EP which drops on June 17th. - The Music Minute



bell's roar is the new solo project from Bronx native Sean Desiree.  In June 2015 bell’s roar signed to Firebrand Records, the new label from Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine.  The tone of the project is best described by the source of its name feminist writer bell hooks. It began with just a guitar and a voice.  Over the years Sean has expanded her singer/songwriter roots by fully taking advantage of her skills as a drummer, bassist and ultimately a producer.  Her debut EP features Kiran Gandhi, drummer for MIA’s Matangi tour.  Her music is inherently melodic; layers of dynamic instrumentation, soulful vocals, and post-rock guitar laden beat making create energetic and electronic compositions. If the talent Sean Desiree shows on this debut is any indication of what is to come, we will be hearing a lot from her.  She has opened for MS MR, Mirah, K Flay, THEESatisfaction and Chrisette Michele. You will be moved by her personal lyrics and commanding vocal style.

Band Members