Syncing a sibling symphony

By Eileen Gutierrez |Staff Writer|

The harmonies and melodies created by Barbara and Ethan Gruska make it seem like they were born to do them.

It would only make sense for the musically-oriented siblings.

Barbara and Ethan formed the group The Belle Brigade, who just released their first album, The Belt of Orion, in April.
The two Los Angeles natives have an extensive musical background. Their maternal grandfather is famous film composer John Williams. Their father is songwriter and composer Jay Gruska.
Barbara has been drumming since she was 10 years old, following the tradition of her great grandfather, great uncles and her mother’s brother.

Ethan was pulled more toward the piano, even though his father handed him a guitar at the age of eight years old.
Warner Brothers signed the duo to their Reprise label. The band joined forces with Lenny Waronker and producer-songwriter, Matthew Wilder.
Wilder, of course, is the genius behind No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom. He also wrote and performed the 1983 hit, “Break My Stride.”

Wilder helped refine their finished tracks and weave their singles into the right hands.

The Los Angeles Times labeled the band under “Faces to Watch” for 2011.
According to, their music is inspired by Barbara and Ethan’s love for Fleetwood Mac, Simon & Garfunkel, the Beatles and Stevie Wonder.

The album is a mixture of snippets of rejection and fun, mellow melodies. calls the album, “chock-full of artfully arranged, freewheeling songs brimming with breezy, California melodies and bracing pop harmonies.”

Los Angeles Times’ critic Ann Powers said the duo, “gleam with hooks and pour over with earnest emotion. The misfit anthem ‘Losers’ could be a Top 10 hit.”

Mikael Wood, also of the Los Angeles Times, called the album “a record nerd’s dream come to messy, muscular life.”

The band’s first single, “Losers”, went viral on YouTube. It features the two in bathrobes in an empty bathtub, strumming along and belting out lyrics such as, “Don’t care about being a winner/ or being smooth with women/ or going out on Friday/ or being the life of the party/ no more.”

The two fall into familial laughter as Barbara’s head towel falls off. Throughout the video, the connection between brother and sister is visible.
Belle Brigade has been duly-noted for their live performances. They have recently been performing on the talk show circuit, performing on “Conan”, among others.
They opened for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and are continuing to open for G. Love & Special Sauce, according to the Los Angeles Times. They will also begin a tour with k.d. lang starting on June 17th.

Hopefully the sibling power will succeed into becoming a household name like those of other sibling pairings, such as Donny & Marie.
With all the right tools, producers and natural musical ability, the team could be the next big thing.