Bell – “Brown Bear”

Bell is Russian-born, Alaska-raised, New York-based BTW Olga Bell. She has a band, yes, but she writes the songs and is clearly the central focus with the central voice. We loved what she did with Björk’s “It’s Oh So Quiet,” but love it even more when she’s tearing into her own tracks. This week’s Drop features “Brown Bear” from her self-titled, self-released EP. As you’ll soon find out, the song isn’t about an actual bear. “It’s ‘bear-shaped water vapor,'” she explains. “As in ‘hey, that cloud that looks like a bear!’ Brown-shaped water vapor hovers over Los Angeles.” We asked her a bit about the track’s narrative.

“Brown,” as you sing, is all the colors together. It’s also “home.” Can you explain the title “Brown Bear”? What inspired the narrative?
“Every color” making brown only really applies in painting, about which I know very little, but I do know that almost all mixing ways eventually lead to something brownish. Yellow and blue make green, which mixes with red to make brown. Opposite colors (yellow + purple, orange + blue) also make brown, and adding a little black to orange or red makes stormy, pessimistic brown. The best brown comes at the end of art class, when you’re not responsible for any actual colors.

“Home” to me has always been more about a sensation than a particular place. Maybe this is a way to justify moving around a lot or being overstimulated, but it seems like something you can carry with you and
access regardless (or perhaps as a result) of any craziness or disparity in your immediate situation. It’s coming to terms with whatever fills your hands at the moment, sort of reminding yourself that these events mean everything and nothing at the same time. Decay is brown, dark chocolate is brown…mmm dark chocolate…

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