After her first official release ‘Ring (On the Phone)’ clocked up more than 100,000 streams online, London-based singer and songwriter Bella Calypso has now returned with her eagerly-awaited follow-up 'The Best'.
Produced by Ali Sam and Papa Shiraz, 'The Best' looks to cement her as a true talent in the fledgling modern pop scene. With its distinct trap-inspired beats blended with her own sweet and soaring vocals, this new jam looks to capitalise on the positive momentum she has found herself in recently.
So with her new single available everywhere, we sat down with her to talk more about her experiences and what has inspired her over the years.
What was the first instrument you fell in love with?
The first instrument I really fell in love with was the flute. I was at school and I saw someone play the instrument during an assembly and I knew that I had to be able to play the flute too. I liked how it looked, the sounds it made; it was dramatic yet graceful at the same time. I ended up taking lessons for over 10 years and was part of a woodwind orchestra too. I love how the artist Lizzo now plays it too in all of her shows, she made it cool!
The first instruments I actually played though were piano and guitar. I took lessons but I was not very disciplined and rarely practised. I used to turn up to my piano lessons and insist on playing a ‘new’ piece from a different composer, hoping that my teacher wouldn’t notice that I had made the whole thing up on the spot. I was only six so she indulged me and went along with it. Now that I am older I have started to re-learn the guitar and piano to help with song-writing.
What has been the most prominent inspiration behind your music so far?
My most prominent inspiration for my music has been myself really. I have always turned to music when I am trying to make sense of things going on in my own life, and I often become stronger as a person because of it. I want to make music that makes other people feel empowered too, so I usually come out of the studio feeling stronger and understanding myself better.
Obviously from an artistic perspective I am constantly inspired by other people and places, whether it is other female pop divas or a particular place that I have visited, the list is endless. Anything that incites a sense of drama and excitement I find attractive.
What kind of music did you love as a teenager?
I am one of those people who can enjoy listening to most types of music. I mostly listened to RnB and Hip-Hop, stuff like Kanye and 50 Cent. But I also listened to everything else, like pop music, emo music like MCR or Evanescence, and also loved watching musicals too. I have a lot of appreciation for classical music and opera because my grandparents were always playing it, and I spent a lot of time with them growing up. I am now obsessed with cinematic composers, Hans Zimmer is a genius. The one thing I’d say I almost never listened to is House music, you can’t really dance to it and it doesn’t make me feel anything, sorry!
Can you remember the first song that made you want to pursue a life in music?
No, I don’t think I ever had one of those pinnacle moments. I just remember hearing songs by Celine Dione, Mariah Carey and Beyoncé and wanting to be able to sing too. I would say I always wanted to be able to sing ‘All I want for Christmas is You’ by Mariah Carey! But it took me a long time before I pursued singing lessons properly. My school often picked the same few people for any performances, and I wasn’t one of them. I think the only role I ever got in a school musical was a cloud!
When you wake up in the morning, what kind of music do you like to listen to?
Jhené Aiko. Her music soothes my soul. It is the music I can listen to when I don’t want to listen to music.
How many of your songs have you written about people in your life?
A lot! I often have something on my mind and that creates a concept for the song. I then exaggerate things and sometimes add in parts that are more fantasy than realism. So often my songs could be inspired by someone in my life, but the song itself is just an exaggerated version of that truth.
What has been the most memorable moment in your career so far?
For me the most memorable moments are those that have been in the studio, where I have just finished writing or recording something and I get this great feeling of excitement and exhaustion. There is great satisfaction in producing something creative that you are genuinely proud of. Then obviously last year I released my first single and did my first live performance with all my friends there too. That was really cool.
Outside of music, what is your biggest passion?
I have often been told that you are supposed to have one great passion in your life. I think that is so limiting. I have so many things I am passionate about. I did so many different sports when I was younger and I love doing things like rock-climbing, running and horse-riding now. I am part of the all-female volunteer organisation the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, which I am extremely passionate about. I have also just completed my second computer coding course for women at Google HQ. I love reading and I love fashion. I love trying anything new.
If you weren’t a musician, what other path do you think you might have taken?
I would say that I am an entrepreneur and I have always wanted to be my own boss, which I am as an artist. However I am also very interested in technology and the effect that this is having on the way we live our lives from an anthropological perspective, today and in the future. So a career in technology is definitely something I would pursue. Either that or I perhaps I would move to Hawaii to be a surf board instructor, I can’t surf but would seem like a pretty chill life.
And what advice would you give to other musicians looking to start a career in music?
I would tell other musicians to just do it and get out of your comfort zone. There is never a right time, so you just have to make the leap and not look back. Keep working at your craft and never stop believing in yourself. Do some research too on how to best get your music out there and make the biggest impact. If you are consistent and true to yourself, you are bound to succeed. Please don’t worry about what other people think of you unless their advice is constructive. Your real friends will support you no matter what!
Bella Calypso's new single 'The Best' is available to stream and download now. Have a listen to it in the player below.