Bryan and Nicole McGurn, the married musical duo Belle Boussole, grew up just a few miles apart in northern New Jersey, but wouldn’t meet until years later when both worked in the corporate world for the same company.
Bryan began playing guitar at age 14 and has been playing in bands and gigging ever since. He also developed an interest early on in music technology and has continued to stay on the cutting edge of music production and engineering.
Bryan cut his teeth on the mixing desk while working at the famous Greene Street Recording Studio in the 90’s on sessions with Sean “Diddy” Combs, Run DMC, Pete Rock, Doug E. Fresh, and legendary NYC producers John Robie (New Order, Afrika Bambaataa) and Nicholas Sansano (Public Enemy, Sonic Youth). Frustrated with the lack of upward mobility in the studio engineering world, Bryan exploited his technical savvy and returned to school, earned a degree in Computer Science, and entered the high-tech corporate world. During a 6 month stint working in Hong Kong in the mid 90s, Bryan was exposed to the sound of Acid Jazz which was being imported into Southeast Asia from it’s red hot epicenter in London. This sound continues to heavily influence his writing and production style.
While Bryan was drawn into music at an early age, Nicole’s story is quite the opposite. Although she always loved music and gained an understanding of the fundamentals through childhood piano and saxophone lessons, she didn’t begin singing seriously and writing until well into her adult life with a little encouragement from her husband.
The couple moved from the New York City area to the Hudson Valley in 2005 to pursue a less corporate-focused lifestyle, and Bryan returned to school once more to pursue a degree in Jazz Studies at SUNY New Paltz. With the education in jazz came the ability to write and perform music in the jazz- infused style that he became so addicted to in the clubs of Hong Kong.
While still attending SUNY, Bryan formed a jazz-funk band, Grooveyard. After a year playing as an instrumental trio, the group wanted to add a singer to the mix. A few failed attempts with local singers finally led to Nicole getting up the nerve to give it a go. Having never sung before in a band, Nicole nailed the audition, and was eagerly brought on board. The band played extensively in the Hudson Valley area in 2007-08, with local DJs and promoters giving high praise to Nicole’s recently tapped vocal talents. The couple began to write material together, and Bryan soon realized that Nicole’s ability to come up with soulful vocal melodies over his jazz- infused chord progressions was the final piece of the puzzle necessary to realize the sound he had been looking for.
The two saw a great opportunity to put Bryan’s production/engineering background together with their songwriting, at which point they had an entire album’s worth of material. They named their duo project Belle Boussole which translates from French as “Beautiful Compass”. The result is a ten song collection which showcases Nicole’s soulful delivery of introspective lyrics against Bryan’s production and playing.
The couple intend this new duo project, and the self-titled album they’ve created, to serve as their compass for the future. The album is being released on their own indie record label/publishing entity Wanderlust Sound.
Live performances are currently being planned, and will begin in June of 2010.