Check out our interview with singer-songwriter Bella Kaye who just released her second EP, “Learning To Be”, a collection of seven songs, explores concepts of mental health and finding one’s true self in a time that has been dominated by uncertainty and anxiety – both because of typical teenage development and because of the global pandemic and societal unrest that has highlighted the last 18 months. Throughout the EP, Bella takes the listener on a journey looking for validation from others in the song “Love Me”, to knowing she needs to face her own demons in “Shadows”, all the way to pulling herself out of a detrimental mental state in “Hostage”. The EP concludes with Bella learning to accept herself and find beauty in life’s imperfections in the song “Perfectly Imperfect.”
Coming off the release of “Highlight Reel” & “Drowning”, her first two singles from “Learning to Be”, Bella is emerging as a confident new artist ready to take on the world. Follow her journey and become part of this up-and-coming singer-songwriter’s path to share her voice.
Follow Bella @iambellakaye
Hi Bella, please tell us a little about you?
Hi, I’m a 17 year old singer songwriter from Southern California. I was born in Chicago and lived there for 11 years before I moved to Southern California. I consider myself an introvert who loves to perform. Music is my absolute favorite thing, and I love songwriting, making music, singing and performing. Being able to process my emotions and creatively tell stories through music is so special. I’ve been releasing music for a couple years now and just recently released my second EP, “Learning To Be.”
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Compassionate, creative and sensitive
How did you get started in the business?
Music has always been a huge part of my life starting at a very young age, and I’ve loved to sing and perform for as long as I can remember. I was introduced to music when I was a baby. I started going to “mommy and me” music classes when I was about 6 months old and saw many kids concerts as a toddler. One of my favorite things to do as a child was putting on shows for my family. I loved having an audience. My mom recognized my passion early on and got me involved in musical theater and the Chicago Children’s Choir. After spending several years doing that, my path as a singer-songwriter became more serious when I moved to Southern California. I started recording music in a studio, posting covers to my social media accounts, and performing at local coffee shops, festivals and county fairs. In 2019 I released my debut single and debut EP. Since then I have released seven originals singles and one cover, along with my most recent release, my second EP, “Learning To Be.”
Describe your sound?
Lyrical, emotive and rich with harmonies and textures. Storytelling in songwriting has always stood out to me so I try to create a clear imagery and world within my songs.
Who influenced you and why did you choose to make music?
I choose to make music because music is a part of who I am. Being a singer and performer has always been my childhood dream, and I couldn’t envision myself not doing music. From a personal standpoint my mom has whole heartedly encouraged me to follow my dreams and supported me every step of the way. She is very involved in my career, and we work closely together. From a musical perspective, Taylor Swift has had a huge influence on who I am as an artist. I really admire Taylor’s storytelling and her ability to creatively paint a picture and bring each song to life in a different way. She’s also an amazing performer with an extremely captivating stage presence. I started listening to Taylor’s songs when I was a little girl and actually have a lot of videos of me singing and dancing to her songs (some are pretty funny!). In 2018 I saw Taylor’s Reputation Stadium Tour, which was amazing. Seeing her live also inspired me to begin writing my original music.
Do you play any instrument?
Yes, I’ve been playing guitar for about five years. I love playing the guitar! I know some piano and have written several songs on it but I’m more comfortable with the guitar so I’ve recently been focusing on improving my piano skills.
Do you ever get nervous?
Yes! I definitely get nervous. Before I perform I feel a lot of adrenaline, and that energy gets mixed in with both my nerves and excitement. It’s really important for me to take time to center myself and get grounded, envisioning the best performance for myself before I go on stage. Once I’m on stage performing, I feel completely in my element and the nerves subside. Performing is such an exhilarating experience, and I love the feeling of being present and connected with an audience.
Tell us about your new EP “Learning To Be”, what’s the story behind the project?
My new concept EP consists of seven songs that chronologically highlight a dark period in my life that started in 9th grade and lasted for about 15 months. This EP explores my journey of falling into and pulling myself out of a detrimental mental state. It starts with looking for validation in others in “Love Me”, knowing I need to face my demons in “Shadows”, pulling myself out of this state in “Hostage” and finding beauty in life imperfections in “Perfectly Imperfect.” When I first began writing the songs for this EP, I had no idea they were going to be a snapshot of my life. Writing these songs was an incredibly reflective process for me and ignited my journey of “learning to be” okay, confident, worthy, myself, and also understand life has ups and downs and it’s ok to feel sad, frustrated, etc. Ultimately, creating this project really helped me understand life is a journey.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Definitely the impact it can make on others. Music is such a powerful form of art and the process of creating a song is so special. Being able to take an idea in my head and use songwriting to tell a story and process my own emotions, then transform it into a full produced song that can make such an impact and inspire someone else is the beauty of music. Something that started off as a way for me to cope and turning it into something someone else can resonate with and interpret to mean something to them is truly incredible.
What would say are the greatest lessons you learned so far?
I’ve gone through a couple difficult periods where I’ve felt trapped in a dark mental state, and I would say my experiences from those times taught me some of my greatest lessons so far, such as:
Accepting and loving myself for who I am.
Everyone is different and beautiful in their own way and someone else’s beauty doesn’t take away from mine.
“Comparing is the thief of joy” … I fully stand by and believe in this quote. It is easy for me to fall into the comparison trap but it never leaves me feeling good so I’ve learned a lot about not trying to compare every part of myself and aspect of my life to what I see on social media.
How would your best friend describe you?
I would say my best friend would describe me as kind hearted, emphatic, loyal, creative, sensitive and compassionate.
What’s next for Bella Kaye in the last months of 2021?
As always I’m going to continue to write songs and make more music. I’ve already been in the studio planning out what’s next and starting to create new music I’m really excited about. I’m also looking forward to the holidays, which is my favorite time of year.
What is your favorite healthy food?
Roasted veggies 🙂
How would you explain your fashion style?
I love wearing outfits that are cute and comfortable so I would say my fashion style is trendy, cute and casual.
What is your own definition of happiness?
I would say recognizing the beauty within yourself and the world around you, living in the moment each day with a grateful heart and peaceful mind.
Best advice ever given?
Follow your heart and dreams, believe in yourself and remember everything happens for a reason. Everyone has their own path and journey and it’s so important to remind yourself of that.
Favorite song off your new EP, “Learning To Be”? Why?
“Drowning” is my favorite song off my new EP. This song is an emotional ballad that reflects on my lowest point during the dark time covered by my EP. I felt like I had lost myself, my passions, who I was and what I stood for. I felt trapped in a mental hole and I didn’t know how I was going to get out. I wrote this song reflecting back on this time. I wouldn’t have been able to write this song if I was still in that negative space.
What do you think of Social Media?
For me using social media is all about a balance. I think it’s a great tool and an amazing way to connect, share and reach more people. I appreciate the ability to reach even more people with my music. However, social media can be a very negative place and it’s hard not to fall into its delusions traps. A lot of people use social media to display a perfect image of themselves, which is a distorted version of reality. It’s easy for me to get caught up in the illusions, comparing myself and feeling jealous and not good enough. Navigating this, finding a balance and coming to understand what’s real and not real is something I’ve really been working on. I actually wrote a song that touches on all of this and the illusions of social media called “Highlight Reel”. Go check it out if you want 🙂
Where we can follow you?
bellakaye.com (you can sign up for my mailing list on my website)
Book: The Giver by Lois Lowry
Quote: “To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Movie: A Star Is Born
Tv Series: Gossip Girl (The original, 2007-2012)
Travel Destination: Bora Bora