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Belle and Sebastian is a 7-person indie pop band formed in Glasgow, Scotland in 1996. The name was inspired by French children’s book “Belle et Sébastien” written in the 1960’s.
Belle and Sebastian was founded by Stuart Murdoch and his friend Stuart David for Murdoch’s music class at Stow College. Murdoch had been dealing with chronic fatigue syndrome prior to attending college and wrote stories and music in his free time as a way to cope with the illness. Originally, Murdoch was assigned to record one demo for the class’s label Electric Honey. However their professor was so impressed that he allowed the group to record a full LP entitled “Tigermilk.” The original Belle and Sebastian consisted of guitarist Stevie Jackson, cellist Isobel Campbell, keyboard player Chris Geddes, and drummer Richard Colburn.
Jeepster Label released Belle and Sebastian second album called “If You’re Feeling Sinister” in November 1996. By this time, the group had a cult following. After Sarah Martin joined the group as a violinist, the group released a triad of EPs in 1997: “Dog on Wheels,” “The Lazy Line Jane Painter,” and “3…6..9…Seconds of Light.” The last EP made the Top 40’s chart in the UK.
Shortly after the debut of their next album “The Boy With the Arab Strip” in 1998, Belle and Sebastian was awarded “Best Newcomer” at the 1999 BRIT Awards. In the early 2000s the band toured internationally despite the news that founder Stuart David and cellist Isobel left the group.
Belle and Sebastian changed record labels to Rough trade in 2003. The change seemed to be a good move since the album “Dear Catastrophe Waitress” had a few songs chart in the UK, such as “Step Into My Office Baby” and “I’m a Cuckoo”.
The band continues to make music and have played at historic venues like the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, US. Their music has been described as whimsical and has been compared to bands like The Smiths.