Erny Belle’s debut album Venus is Home is being re-pressed by Flying Nun this month after receiving critical acclaim on the back of its independent self-release in February 2022.
The signing is both energising and a source of relief for Aotearoa musician Aimee Renata, who calls self-releasing the album in February “a big feat.” “Signing to them marks a new beginning in my music endeavours and gives me hope that maybe I’m doing all right.”
Although Renata has been releasing music under the moniker Erny Belle for only one year—her first single and video “Burning Heaven” came out last October—her sound and visual aesthetic suggest an artist born fully formed, like Athena leaping out of Zeus’ head clad in armour, except Erny Belle arrives wielding an axe adorned in gumboots and a wedding dress.
The video for “Venus Is Home” opens with haunting, reverb-drenched slide guitar stretching across a dramatic isolated landscape. Renata bends on the shore in gothic Victorian dress, her arms outstretched, lapping waves and lace fluttering in the wind.
Filmmaker and musician Stuart Page of The Axemen, whose debut album was released by Flying Nun in 1985, has known Aimee since she was five years old and feels like her music and “excellent cinematic” music videos mark a departure for the label.
“Aimee has created her own unique gothic country sound with an island steel feel too,” Page said. “She is part of a whole new wave of Flying Nun groups and soloists that are quite different to the early DIY post-punk sounds from the south.”
The legacy of being signed to one of New Zealand’s most renowned record labels is not lost on Renata, whose first tape was The Bats 1987 debut Daddy’s Highway. Incidentally, Renata also bears more than a passing resemblance to the late Flying Nun alum Celia Mancini of King Loser.
Erny Belle also shares Celia Mancini’s eye for iconography.
Flying Nun A&R and label manager Hariet Ellis says that Erny Belle’s debut album took the whole team at the label “by surprise”. “It is rare for an artist’s debut release to possess so much mana and conviction, and we’re completely smitten,” Ellis said. “We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Erny Belle.”
Catch Erny Belle headlining the Hollywood Theatre in Avondale this Friday November 4 with support from D.C. Maxwell (tickets here).