Kalliope Jones comes of age on EP ‘Bubblegum Heart’

Rock trio to perform with The Nields at Iron Horse Music Hall on Saturday

  • From left, drummer Alouette Batteau, guitarist Isabella DeHerdt and bassist Amelia Nields Chalfant of Kalliope Jones pose for a group photo at Green Fields Market. Kalliope Jones recently released a new EP, “Bubblegum Heart,” and will be performing at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton on Saturday at 7 p.m., accompanied by The Nields. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • From left, drummer Alouette Batteau, bassist Amelia Nields Chalfant and guitarist Isabella DeHerdt of Kalliope Jones pose for a group photo on Main Street in Greenfield. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • From left, drummer Alouette Batteau, bassist Amelia Nields Chalfant and guitarist Isabella DeHerdt of Kalliope Jones laugh together at Green Fields Market. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • From left, drummer Alouette Batteau, bassist Amelia Nields Chalfant and guitarist Isabella DeHerdt of Kalliope Jones stroll through Green Fields Market. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Kalliope Jones guitarist Isabella DeHerdt, 20, sings at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield in early January. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Kalliope Jones guitarist Isabella DeHerdt, 20, performs with her band at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield in early January. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • From left, guitarist Isabella DeHerdt, drummer Alouette Batteau and bassist Amelia Nields Chalfant of Kalliope Jones perform at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield in early January. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • From left, bassist Amelia Nields Chalfant, guitarist Isabella DeHerdt and drummer Alouette Batteau of Kalliope Jones perform at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield in early January. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Kalliope Jones drummer Alouette Batteau, 17, performs with her band at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield in early January. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • From left, guitarist Isabella DeHerdt, bassist Amelia Nields Chalfant and drummer AlouetteBatteau of Kalliope Jones talk to their audience during a show at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield in early January. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Kalliope Jones bassist Amelia NieldsChalfant, 17, performs with her band at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield in early January. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Kalliope Jones guitarist Isabella DeHerdt, 20, performs with her band at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield in early January. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • From left, guitarist Isabella DeHerdt, drummer Alouette Batteau and bassist Amelia Nields Chalfant of Kalliope Jones perform at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield in early January. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Kalliope Jones bassist Amelia Nields Chalfant, 17, performs with her band at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield in early January. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • Kalliope Jones drummer Alouette Batteau throws Dubble Bubble gum into the crowd during a performance at Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield in early January. Staff Photo/Dan Little

  • From left, bassist Amelia Nields Chalfant, guitarist Isabella DeHerdt and drummer Alouette Batteau of Kalliope Jones perform at the Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center in Greenfield in early January. Staff Photo/Dan Little

Staff Writer
Published: 1/30/2019 8:22:09 PM

The sound of bright yellow-wrapped Dubble Bubble raining down on the dark hardwood floor flooded the audience’s senses as the rocking and rolling of bubble gum-post-rock popped with punctuation.

Guitarist and vocalist Isabella DeHerdt held the tub of the childhood favorite bubble gum on stage, grabbing handfuls with which to douse the crowd at Greenfield’s Hawks & Reed Performing Arts Center on this Friday night in early January.

The local trio known as Kalliope Jones, with DeHerdt, 20, bassist and vocalist Amelia Nields Chalfant, 17, and drummer and vocalist Alouette Batteau, 17, of Shelburne Falls, continued to rock on through their set. The group has been on the rise in the area for years now, like in 2015 when Kalliope Jones was honored with best music video at the Ashfield Film Festival and had its work written about by MTV, People Magazine and Seventeen.

The three were showcasing their new release, “Bubblegum Heart,” a 19-minute project with six songs, all self-written and produced with the help of Chalfant’s father, Dave Chalfant. As Batteau put it, the EP is all about “teendom.”

The group that has been together for the past eight years, first meeting at the Institute for the Musical Arts in Goshen, switched up the pace between songs on this EP, which is the first formal release since the band’s self-titled project in 2017.

An ‘emotional roller coaster’ in six songs

Bobbing heads and shuffling feet jammed out to the higher energy songs. Kalliope Jones released balloons and beach ball into the crowd to be volleyed around. Later on, the three asked the crowd to sit down and join them for some slower love songs.

“Our goal is to put you through the emotional roller coaster of our teenage in this show,” Chalfant said.

The first song on the EP is the title track, “Bubblegum <3.” It starts off with a slow strumming of the guitar, progressing, before Batteau’s vocals break through:

I don’t want to be busy everyday, working 24/7 for the perfect grades/ I want to take some time to just step out of line without having to throw it all away

Batteau’s drums come in with a brief bass introduction from Chalfant.

I don’t want to be the good kid anymore, I know you see me like a child listening through the door,/ but maybe just this once, I’m gonna have some fun, I’m kind of tired of feeling like I’m a bore

The chorus rolls in, with harmony and a full band’s presence backing the soulful singing.

Well I’ve saved up all my mistakes, rolled up, I still don’t know me, bubble gum heart blows up ‘til it pops of what it was once terrified of, never knowing how to make my mind up.

“I think it’s funny to think about it like pop music,” Chalfant explained at Green Fields Market during an interview about Kalliope Jones’ new EP, ahead of a show at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 7 p.m., where the band will open for The Nields, featuring Chalfant’s mother, Katryna Nields, and aunt, Nerissa Nields.

“Bubblegum pops..,” she said. “I think it’s this idea of a heart that’s malleable and sweet, but also like could pop at any moment.”

The EP, not quite an album (although that is an aspiration of the emerging trio), has been in the works for two years.

The two oldest songs date back to that starting time: “Nebraska” and “Motor Baby.” Those two songs have been refined over years of performing them for live audiences at festivals and concert halls up and down the Pioneer Valley. “Nebraska,” curiously and cleverly, starts out with a PA speaker radio-sounded voice, which was worked in during production.

It’s the top four songs on “Bubblegum Heart” that set the tone for where Kalliope Jones is going and hopes to go.

“Our last album we did a long time ago and it was more middle-school days,” Batteau said. “We didn’t have a lot of real content that was actually from our real experiences. So now (we’re) going through ‘teendom’ and now Isabella is in college,” which her counterparts jested as “adultdom.” “It’s like we’re actually going through real life stuff that other people can connect to and we wanted to create a piece that people would be able to listen to and be like, ‘Oh, that’s how I’m feeling, and I can listen to that and it might make me feel better.’”

“We’re also at a transition point in terms of both our bands and who we are as people,” Chalfant said. “I think this album is a really good reflection of what Alouette was saying — what our teenage life has been like. And for me, I just think it’s cool that we have that kind of immortalized.”

Part of what they are immortalizing is the thing that is so fragile and passing, like a bubble blown in the wind: their teenage years. While exploring the themes of love and loss, and all the growing in between, Kalliope Jones uses place, specifically the Pioneer Valley, to situate its music.

Outside the bubble? Or in?

When DeHerdt visited Nashville, she found a music scene perhaps as cuthroat as she had always thought.

“It felt like a machine of people trying to do what they thought would be a hit,” DeHerdt, a music major at Wellesley College, said.

She didn’t find that community element to the music scene that she was used to in the Pioneer Valley.

“It felt like you’re against everyone, always,” DeHerdt said. “I think part of the music industry is that. You want to be as good as you can.”

But at what expense? Not if it means losing themselves.

“The whole music industry is such a terrifying mystery,” Batteau said. “I want it to be a fun experience. I don’t want to get to the top through blood and tears.”

“We want to work, we’re on the grind,” DeHerdt said, “but we’re not going to make ourselves miserable.”

Kalliope Jones has decided to stay true to its roots in the Pioneer Valley, a place with a “completely eclectic” sound, Batteau said, with an “atmospheric culture.”

“There’s a lot of people that have songs about small towns, about like, I don’t know, living in this insulated ...” Chalfant began, with Batteau finishing her sentence with “bubble.”

“I think thematically,” Chalfant continued, “it’s interesting to track among these bands what we write about. I think Alouette is right. We all have such different sounds, but we’re all living similar, I don’t know, valley experiences.”

It’s an experience that resonates with the three.

“Sometimes when I’m writing songs, I’m writing them about the bubble, and being in the bubble, and other times I’m writing them about wanting to get the heck out of the bubble,” Batteau said, with snaps of agreement from Chalfant.

“I’m not out of the bubble fully, but I’m in a different bubble now, and being in Wellesley and in Boston, I have a newfound appreciation of this bubble,” DeHerdt said. “So now when I write songs, it’s either about the Boston area or kind of the yearning for wanting to be back to the valley.”

Overcoming the obstacles of distance and time

Any tension that could be there about the trio’s oldest bandmate going off to college and forgetting about them is nowhere near the truth.

DeHerdt has joined an a cappella group at Wellesley and she said her fellow members constantly ask about her two fellow Kalliope Jones members, and they’re always playing the band’s music.

Since going away for college, it’s helped DeHerdt to realize the significant bond she has with her band, and is helping her see a future with Kalliope Jones.

“I’m in college now and these two are heading off to college soon. We want to get those degrees and we want to do that part of our life,” DeHerdt said.

The two 17-year-olds, Batteau at Four Rivers Charter Public School and Chalfant at Northfield Mount Hermon School, aren’t sure where they want to go to college yet. Neither plan on studying music, like DeHerdt, but hope for music to be a big part of their lives.

“It’s interesting that this pretty large obstacle — it was not thrown at us, we knew it was coming and that you were going to go to college — but it proved a lot to us to have this obstacle of distance and limited time,” Chalfant said.

When DeHerdt is home, the three use the precious time to meet up, debrief each other on their lives and practice their set list. In between, they’ll text each other in their group chat and crack a lot of their jokes over Snapchat.

“I remember people asking us,” when DeHerdt was going off to college, she recalled, “‘Oh, what’s going to happen? Is this the end?’ We’re like, ‘No, I hope not.’”

“We had, I mean, at least I had a fear,” she continued. “We didn’t know what was going to happen. The same way I do have a little bit of just apprehension going into the next year. When things change, you just don’t know how it’s going to shake out. But, personally for me, going to college honestly solidified how much I enjoyed working with these two and how special what we have is. We have other ensembles, I love them, they’re great, but ... you don’t find people you gel with this much, all the time. It showed me that it was a priority to keep it going.”

The EP, which is out on streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music and for digital purchase on Bandcamp, won’t be the last music Kalliope Jones puts out for a while. The three said they hope to keep releasing singles, telling their stories along the way, as they have since they were 9, 10, 11 years old, one bubble at a time.

“I want people to feel like, I don’t know, heard?” Chalfant said. “It’s fun for me when I find a song or the lyrics are just like, that’s exactly what I’m feeling right now. To have someone, who you don’t know, who you never met, sing about what you’re feeling, I think is an incredibly powerful experience. If someone can hear that and feel heard, I think that’s ideal.”

Staff reporter Joshua Solomon has worked at the Greenfield Recorder since 2017. He covers all things Greenfield. He can be reached at: jsolomon@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264.


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