Elliot Bergman, the guitar-strumming half (with his vocalist kid sister Natalie) of the Chicago duo Wild Belle appreciated being sheltered under the wing of major label Columbia Records for two albums: 2013’s “Isles,” their debut, and “Dreamland” in 2016. But severing ties with the Sony subdivision and launching his own LoveTones imprint for their new third effort, “Everybody One of a Kind,” has been twice as rewarding. “The parting was very gracious. They said, ‘You’re free to go’ and we said, ‘thank you,’” says Bergman, adding, “While it does feel very liberating in some ways, there isn’t as much of a safety net anymore, so you really have to ask yourself, ‘Is what I’m doing really resonating with people?’”
You’ve gone through a few other major changes, too, right?
Yeah, I moved to Los Angeles about a year and a half ago, and I spent about eight months building a recording studio, this funny little expanding compound that I have. So now I have my little art studio where I’m making a lot of the bells, and a courtyard that connects them all that’s lined with cactus. So now I have this whole amateur gardener regimen, where I just watered my plants while I’m home for two days in the middle of a seven-week tour. And I’ve been delving back into 10 years of abandoned recordings. It’s like rescuing your children.
So you’re still home casting your own line of bells?
Yes. And I just did a show with them in a space so big that I took one look and thought, “We’re gonna need a bigger bell!” But on a limited budget, I improvised and I ended up fabricating these huge ladders with bells hanging from the ceiling, and each rung had the tone of a different marimba bar. So we essentially made this giant marimba out of old salvaged beams from the junkyard, and then brought all the bells and the Wild Belle sound system and basically played for three days straight, eight hours a day, this very meditative, inspirational performance.
Has the fine artist side of you started to bleed into the musician side?
We all have a number of different parts. But you kind of want to have a unified whole at some point. So that’s why I’ve been pushing for everything to coexist and fit together in a way that makes sense. So you have to start saying no to more things. We’re in a weird world that doesn’t value a lot of the things that I find interesting or important.
IF YOU GO
Where: Independent, 628 Divisadero St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 1
Tickets: $20 to $25 (sold out)
Contact: (415) 771-1421, www.ticketfly.com