The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.
Front and Center: Singer and Songwriter, BeLL
By Lina Bhambhani
Singer and songwriter BeLL started her career by writing for other artists, including Natalie Imbruglia and The Script’s Danny O’Donoghue. She has collaborated with renowned producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and David Hodges (Kelly Clarkson, 5 Seconds of Summer), and has had songs placed in a Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial as well as popular TV shows The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars.
BeLL recently debuted a haunting cover of REM’s “Losing My Religion” that reached #1 on Hype Machine and has earned her plenty of industry and blog buzz. Since then she has taken another massive step forward with the sizzling original “Bang Bang (Remember My Name).” The powerful song has already made its way into the new trailer for ABC Family’s Famous In Love and is destined to build BeLL’s rapidly growing fan base.
BeLL spends her spare time volunteering as a keys instructor in the Los Angeles Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls and Awaken Arts, teaching songwriting to at-risk youth girls. She is currently donating proceeds from “Losing My Religion” to the National Center of Victims of Crime.
Get to know more about BeLL at iambellofficial.com.
The WiMN: What inspired you to choose a path in music?
BeLL: I grew up listening to Paul Simon and was inspired by artists like Michael Jackson, Queen, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Stevie Nicks. I started writing songs on piano at age seven, and it was a passion I just never outgrew. When I realized there was absolutely nothing else I’d rather be doing, I moved to Los Angeles and hit the ground running.
The WiMN: Tell us about your cover of REM’s “Losing My Religion.” Why did you choose the song?
BeLL: I collaborated on that one with talented female producer/songwriter Adrianne Gonzalez; we’re both REM fans and thought the song and it’s message was haunting and powerful. The song always struck a chord in me. I interpreted it as a portrayal of the heartbreaking effects of religion being used to justify violence and ignorant hatred. It was an honor working with female director/photographer Jen Rosenstein on the music video for it as well.
The WiMN: Any other musical projects you can tell us about?
BeLL: I’m honored to be collaborating with some top-notch producers and songwriters, including the amazing Paul Williams. I’ve been a big fan of Paul’s work for a long time and it’s been a dream come true cowriting with him for my new releases.
The WiMN: Have you faced any challenges being a woman in the music industry? How did you overcome them?
BeLL: First of all, I’m grateful to have the privilege of working with great men in the music industry who respect women and aren’t threatened by strong females who know what they want. I also have the honor of working with talented women who are supportive and see me as a teammate rather than competition. That being said, I have had my fair share of challenges.
I’ve had writing sessions that were uphill battles, especially at the beginning of my songwriting career. It felt like I needed to jump through hoops to be heard and seen as a peer. Often my ideas were more questioned and second-guessed than my male cowriters.
When approached by producers or managers interested in working with me, it was discouraging whenever I found out too late that their motives were not business-related.
Specifically, I was once told that my choice in drum sounds were too “masculine” and that my voice would be more attractive if it wasn’t so “bass-y.” I’ve been in sessions where if the song didn’t literally turn them on, they said it was a waste of time.
In a male-dominated industry, we can either choose to let hardships make us bitter or wiser; either one is a choice. I would not have survived this long in this industry if it weren’t for my healthy, supportive relationships. I just kept putting myself out there and learned from mistakes as I went. Setting healthy boundaries helped. As I worked with more people, I started seeing red flags right away and started developing relationships with talented, trustworthy people. I try not to let bad experiences taint the good ones. It’s a weeding-out process finding relationships with mutual respect. Just keep in mind that you’re not alone and don’t give up!
The WiMN: Who are some of your musical heroes?
BeLL: Sia, Stevie Nicks, Dolly Parton and Nancy Sinatra.
The WiMN: Tell us about your experience volunteering with L.A. Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls.
BeLL: I’m so grateful to be a part of it. I volunteer as a piano instructor. It’s so important for young girls to see women in the music industry working together and supporting each other. The media cultivates and encourages women to be in competition with each other. It’s organizations like this Rock Camp for Girls that allow young girls to be inspired and see teamwork among women played out. Also, they are encouraged to be themselves; It’s pretty cool seeing shy girls come out of their shells when they have a safe space to improve at something they love doing.
The WiMN: Any words of advice for young women looking to pursue a career in music?
BeLL: Be willing to learn and grow in your craft, but listen to your gut. Regardless of where you are in your career, be humble. It will take you farther than you think.
The WiMN: What’s next for you?
BeLL: I’m getting ready to debut a song that is airing on an episode of Freeform’s new TV series Famous in Love on May 16 and will be booking some shows along the West Coast in the meantime. Very excited to release the new material I’ve been cowriting with Paul Williams as well!