Date Signed: May 26, 2020
Label: Kill Rock Stars
Band Members: Natalie Ribbons, Jason Chronis
Type of Music: Folk/Country
Publicity: Sarah Avrin & Erin Jean Hussey - Girlie Action Media & Marketing
A&R: Slim Moon
With their sophomore album, Merlynn Belle, due out in February, Tele Novella’s seemingly sudden success can be explained by a fearless ability to try something completely different. Originally formed as a quartet with a complex, psychedelic pop flavor of layered sound, the group has been reinvented by co-founders Natalie Ribbons and Jason Chronis as a duo with a stripped-down, minimalist retro feel, which is exactly what caught the ear of A&R rep and Kill Rock Stars founder, Slim Moon.
Taking a break from any serious musical push after burnout following the band’s 2016 record, House of Souls, Ribbons dug into her vintage shop work and Chronis slowed down, although they were still loosely playing together with sounds and ideas. A turning point came when they were notified that they had been awarded a $9,000 grant to record. With nothing prepared, they had to start from scratch. Inspired by Ribbons’ discovery of 1950s country and a move to Lockhart, TX (30 miles outside of Austin), retro-country sounds seeped in, and the process felt much more natural and symbiotic than in earlier collaborations. “It is really important not to be afraid to reinvent the wheel,” Ribbons says.
“If the world you have built around yourself isn’t working, or isn’t getting you where you want to go, don’t be afraid to tear it all down and start over.”
With the new album finished, the plan was to move ahead with a self-release, but at the last minute, Ribbons was inspired to message Moon with the material. Having been a fan of the Kill Rock Stars label since high school, Ribbons had been following Moon on MySpace and Facebook, and emailed him a SoundCloud link to the full album, saying she thought he would like the material. Moon was impressed with the songwriting, vocals and overall aesthetic of the record, and responded the next morning to move ahead with signing the project. “I wanted to put the record out,” Moon says, “even if they didn’t tour or want to play live, as I really loved their songs.”
Originally an exclusive one-album deal, Kill Rock Stars has extended its commitment to include a second album, with a planned release within six months of the first. When asked what he loves most about the duo, Moon shares, “Natalie’s leadership is really what made me want to sign the band. She knows who she is and she writes smart, understated songs.”