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: Vocalist and Keyboardist for Ménage, Bela Ferreira
By Gabriella Steffenberg
When Bela Ferreira was given a diary for her birthday at a young age, she quickly became addicted to the therapeutic feeling of expressing herself through her writing. Ferreira began adding melodies to her diary entries, pairing them with a keyboard.
Years later, Ferreira spent more time writing, and found herself performing across Europe and North America. She then traveled to Los Angeles where she began writing and collaborating with her brother, Basilio Fernando Ferreira, which eventually came to the release of her debut album, …the death of gypsyX.
After a successful solo career, Ferreira and Basilio, along with their brother Gabriel, embarked on their own musical journey in Los Angeles, creating their band Ménage. A new EP is in the works, with their 2014 self-titled EP out now. Keep up with Ferreira and Ménage through their official site and Facebook page.
BF: That music is the one thing that unites us universally. That songs can be felt, can move people emotionally, and be understood, regardless of the language barrier… It’s crazy when you think about it.
WiMN: What was it like to be brought up bicultural? How has that influenced your writing?
BF: Being brought up bicultural is enriching. In my particular case, it was a bit of a struggle at times because my parents’ “rules” and expectations were based on their own upbringing, and clashed with those in which my Canadian classmates were being brought up on.
Regardless, I feel so lucky to have been exposed to two completely different worlds. We did so in every aspect, not just learning a different language or a different way of life (in Europe, we have always lived in a very small town, as opposed to the big city life we experience in Toronto).
But also the music we got exposed to completely opened our eyes and broadened our sense of creativity. I feel incredibly fortunate for that. To this day, you can hear those influences in our songs.
WiMN: How was it writing music for the first time with your brothers, Basilio and Gabriel? How is the process different from when you’re writing by yourself?
BF: [Basilio] Fernando and I have always written together. But Ménage was our first time all three of us started working on music altogether… It’s been like any other family tug of war. We are all very passionate about music, what we want to say, and how we say it. It makes for some loud arguments at times, but in the end we settle on what’s best for the song.
WiMN: Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?
BF: I have always been so intrigued by the late Amalia Rodrigues, and Kurt Cobain.
WiMN: What was a defining moment in your music career?
BF: There have been so many “moments” – they’re constantly happening. I get to work with people that I had only dreamt of working with, like David Bottrill, Jim Barr of one of my favourite bands, Portishead. I have met some of my idols through my music. I have played outdoor festivals which was definitely always a goal of mine.
But I have to say, it’s hard to top your first experience. Writing those personal, humble little songs, then flying to gorgeous Vancouver and recording them with Dale Penner. Just having it all come to life was unbelievable to me. I was the fuzzy haired, quiet loner who was now recording an album with an incredible producer I had admired for forever.
WiMN: Are you working exclusively now with your band Ménage, or are you releasing new solo music as well?
BF: Ménage is my life at this point. It feels natural and fulfilling. I get to do what I love most, and do it while being part of this amazing team made up my brothers, as well as Elliot and Dave who have become like brothers to me. It’s really more than I could’ve ever asked for.
WiMN: What do you wish you knew back when you started your career in music?
BF: I wish I knew not to be easily intimidated, and not to believe everyone else has it all figured out.
WiMN: What type of vibe can we expect in Ménage’s new EP, and when is it slated for release?