Meet our Friday Muse, singer-songwriter Aimee Renata, aka ‘Erny Belle’

22 February 2024
By Fashion Quarterly

With two albums and multiple award nominations under her belt, Kiwi artist Erny Belle is one of Aotearoa’s most promising musical talents of the moment.

Since the release of her debut album in 2022, homegrown artist Aimee Renata has experienced a meteoric ascent in the local music scene. The singer-songwriter, who’s best known by her moniker Erny Belle, has gained a dedicated following for her poetic, gothic sound, which she personally describes as “spiritual cowboy, pop, Pasifika.” Aotearoa has never been short on musical talent, and for Renata, the decision to go into music felt like a natural leap from her theatrical background in the film industry. Following her recent appearance in this year’s Laneway Festival in Tāmaki Makaurau, we caught up with the artist to discover more about her career journey to date, the story behind her stage name, and the process of making two albums. 

Erny performing at Laneway Festival 2024.

In conversation with Erny Belle:

Tell us a bit about you, your background, and your career to date.

Kia ora! I’m a singer-songwriter and all the things in between. I released my first album ‘Venus Is Home’ in 2022. Since then, I’ve released my sophomore album, ‘Not Your Cupid’, in 2023. I come from a film whānau/background working in costume. My music career is fresh, but has been brewing in the cauldron for a wee while.

What made you choose Erny Belle as your artist name? Is there a story behind it? 

At the time, I was on country music madness and felt a connection to the dark masculine, swagger of people like Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, Hank Williams etc. I liked the idea of taking an old school name that was uncommon for a woman and making it my suit. My grandfather was called Ernest and Belle comes from my little sister. When it came it just clung and I couldn’t get rid of it, even though I tried.

Your background is in acting and working as an on set costumer. In what ways has this influenced your musical career?

I think I felt accustomed to storytelling, partly being Māori and partly coming from a theatrical background on my Pākeha side, as well as my whānau’s history with film. My experience with that has helped in the logistical/creative sense of understanding how to get an idea to screen, in terms of music videos (directing and producing them). These days, unless you have funds to pay for production and creatives, you have to do everything yourself. So I’m lucky in that sense that the worlds collide. 

Tell us a bit about your sophomore album ‘Not Your Cupid’.

Well, it’s my second album, but because I got signed to Flying Nun post ‘Venus Is Home’, it had a deadline. So I had to draw blood and conceptualise what had been going on within myself over the past year or since its release. Pulling s**t out of [thin] air. I like working that way. Gone with the wind.

Erny for OHEN lingerie.

How would you personally describe your music/sound? 

Spiritual cowboy, Pop, Pasifika, Goth-Folk, Swaggy, Romantic. 

Who are your biggest musical influences or muses?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Pauly Fuemana’s (OMC) unreleased music/poetry, struck a chord. I can’t be like him, but I think his ethos and spirit has influenced me. As well as other female artists that aren’t afraid to get ugly (Punk energy) such as Marianne Faithfull, PJ Harvey, Nina Simone, Edith Piaf. I like the rawness of soul. 

What does an average day look like for you?

Utterly ordinary. I clean the house, talk to myself, reply to emails, organise, plan, manifest, try to write, tend to my future. That’s if I’m not slogging it out on a film job. Trying to find inspiration to keep the ahi burning. 

What’s next for you? Personally and professionally?

I am working on a film job, when that finishes, I can write again. There’s much I want to do. It’s all song and visuals though. I’ve already started thinking about the third album. I just look forward to the time I can delve into that. 

Erny for OHEN lingerie.

Quickfire questions: 

The best style advice I’ve ever received… don’t look like you’re going to the viaduct.

My favourite place to dine… Dad’s, on snapper and cheap red wine. 

If I had to listen to three songs for the rest of my life it would be… this is too cruel! I could never. 

The item at the top of my wish list… an OHEN Balconette bra. Oh, where for art thou Romeo!

My guilty pleasure is… two bottles of wine for dinner, a bucket of KFC for breakfast. No guilt.

If I wasn’t a musician, I would be a… director of films! Or a caregiver of the elderly.

My favourite place to travel to… anywhere north of Wellsford. 


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