They say good things come in pairs. In front the camera their bodies move in unison to the beat of a muted ‘70s disco song; Alex’s arm drops and Isis’ arm replaces it; Alex’s chin levels to the ceiling, while Isis’ gaze strikes the lens. Alex Belle and Isis Valentino, the R&B duo behind St. Beauty, are the choreographers of this graceful dance, and true arbiters of collaboration. As rising musicians, the Atlanta bred artists’ chemistry permeates most notably in recording studios, an observation Janelle Monáe took note of prior to signing them to her label, Wondaland Records.
Having first met while working at a vintage store in Atlanta, Alex and Isis recognized they shared a similar passion for music through swapping playlists and the auxiliary cord at work. After performing at a local Atlanta showcase, they began developing a sound that would eventually culminate into “Confetti,” a label they pioneered to describe their music. Much like the excitement and joy confetti brings to a moment, St. Beauty’s positive message and soothing melodies produce feelings of light-hearted gratification and allure.
The band is a fixture in a league of contemporary artists experimenting with avant-garde adaptations of classic R&B and Soul music. Their music has been featured alongside the likes of label-mate, Jidenna, Moses Sumney, Sampha, on the soundtrack for HBO’s Insecure, and on Wondaland Presents: The Eephus EP. To date, the pair have released less than half a dozen songs, yet, they’ve already sprouted roots for a budding new sound lined with inspiration from vintage music, visuals, and experiences; musings that are also reflected in their impressive wardrobe. As far as offerings go, their 2016 breakout song “Borders” features hollowing echoes filled with lyrics of loves uncertainty, and the roads uncertainty paves. The idea of love and companionship are recurring themes in St. Beauty’s music.
Alex and Isis vulnerability about nuanced relationships, self-love, and adventure not only cultivate connections with their audience, but nourish the strength of the duo’s chemistry and the cosmic artistry it births. Shortly after the release of their latest pop-influenced single “Caught” St. Beauty talks with OC about the process of finalizing their debut project, the art of collaboration and sisterhood, and the makings of a good love song.
In what ways were you exposed to music in your childhoods?
AB: My mom was in the church choir, so she always sang around the house, as well as my father. He played drums for the church and he was into producing music. He taught me how to use a software called "Fruity Loops" when I was 9. He was also a writer, so he taught me how to structure a song. After he taught me all these things, I made beats and wrote songs every day and it became a true passion of mine to be a music artist.
IV: My mother always sang in church, my step-father was always the music director/organist and my father was always into music and used to have a record shop, he used to sneak music to me because my mom only listened to gospel music. Then later I moved to England when I was in high school and there I was exposed to so much music that I wasn't aware of. It was a totally different experience from growing up in Atlanta and only listening to Hip-Hop, R&B, and Gospel.
Atlanta's artist community is made up of a variety of different sounds and genres. Where do you stand within the Atlanta art scene and in what ways is it displayed in your music?
ALEX + ISIS:We feel that we're kind of the odd ball out when it comes to Atlanta's music scene. When people think of Atlanta, they think of trap music because that's mainly the type of music that comes out of Atlanta right now. We like to stay true to some Atlanta sounds, though. Some of our songs are very 808 driven and it definitely reminds us of home.
Your music contains a lot of messages of self love and self care. As women, how do you both manage to put your well being first considering women are often expected to sacrifice and reveal so much?
AB: I love taking care of myself. Pampering myself, meditating, and reading self-help books are 3 of my favorite things to do in order to feel really good and to stay centered. I also really have to make sure my personal environment is clean even though I'm a disorganized person (haha). It helps me keep a clear mind.
IB: I enjoy taking care of myself inside and out. Reading self-help books, making sure I spend time with myself to be quiet and think. I love being active (working out/riding my bike) and staying hydrated.
What does sisterhood mean to you? What advice would you give to other women about garnering and strengthening sisterhoods?
ALEX + ISIS: Sisterhood means understanding each other and the struggles that we all face as women. We feel like that connects women in general.
AB: My advice to women would be to stop hating on each other. Support each other. We all go through the same shit. If we all understood that, we'd be united more than ever.
IV: My advice is to practice consideration, be honest with ourselves about our insecurities and understand who you really are and why you do the things you do. Act on love.
What inspires your visual aesthetic and how is it related to the music?
ALEX + ISIS: Nostalgic movies, documentaries, colors, and experiences usually inspire our aesthetic and music videos. We met working at a vintage clothing store, so those things have always been something we both resonated with.
What can you reveal about your forthcoming album?
ALEX + ISIS: Our new project consists of real life experiences that we hope everyone can relate to. And we hope it'll make you dance! It's coming soon (laughs).