B.E.L.L.A.
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B.E.L.L.A.

St. Louis, Missouri, United States

St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Pop Indie

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Songbird Heather-Buckley Wilson, a St. Louis native that grew up in semi-segregated environs, says she always felt like the odd man out in her neighborhood. Instead of following the pack mentality to fit in with other kids, she clung to her mother's music collection, finding inspiration in artists like Paul Simon, Tracy Chapman, and Queen. Tapes of Alanis Morissette and the Cranberries kept her company on the school bus, shaping her into the quirky pop musician she is today, as the leading woman behind B.E.L.L.A., which will self-release its debut album, Juxtapose, this summer.

Buckley-Wilson's husband says her taste in music is "way '80s." As a young girl, a member of one of her favorite current duos, Hall & Oates, even serenaded her in an airport. "Pop is Not Dead in St. Louis" presides as her press tagline, and she intends to deliver it at events all over town, including local festivals and her favorite show spot, Lemmons.

With close friend and multi-instrumentalist Derrick Richard, Buckley-Wilson composes everything from touching ballads belted out from deep within her soulful set of lungs (see the video below) to ass-shaking, metallic techno-pop jams meant to induce undulating on the dance floor. Special guest performers join in on drums, guitars, keyboards -- whatever's fair game -- for B.E.L.L.A.'s live performances. When she's not delivering raw, electrifying sets in B.E.L.L.A., channeling favorite artists including Stevie Nicks and Pink, Buckley-Wilson also composes the occasional commercial jingle as well as music for an indie label in Seattle.

What I like most about St. Louis is... that it's a big city with a small town feel. This city has two million people, but you seem to always know somebody --or somebody who knew somebody who went to the same high school as your cousin. It's such a weird dynamic here sometimes, but that's a quirk I like about the city. I've lived here all my life, so this will always be my homebase.



I make music because... if I didn't, I would only be half a person, never able to grow, never able to experience the freedom it lends. If Derrick and I don't make music for an extended period of time, we feel like different people.

I've learned the most from... Joss Whedon, which I can't believe I'm saying out loud! I learned how gray life could be before I actually had the pleasure of experiencing it myself. Sometimes the answers weren't always clear, but people muddled through the best they knew how. You didn't know Buffy got deep, huh?!

The St. Louis music scene could use... This is a tough one. In my limited experience, I'd have to say it could use some variety. Sometimes, a girl just wants to hear something sparkly and new.

The best post-show food in St. Louis is... I usually am REALLY nervous before shows (throw-up on stage nervous), so I can't eat before a show, but after -- after is Wendy's, my absolute favorite after-show grub tub.

My dream line-up for a show is... Of course, I'd like to open up for a Pink, Alanis, or Gwen Stefani because of my intense girl crushes. Derrick wants to stand on the same stage as Trent Reznor because Trent's his BFF in his mind. But for now, until we get to that ultra superstar level, I'd love to do a show with Adartis March and Letter to Memphis. Not only are they fantastic musicians, but they are uber-cool women on the local music scene. I really respect them.

The most difficult lesson I've learned in the business is... that this business is just like life. If you smell something fishy, well, goshdammit there's probably a fish in that guy's pants.

- Riverfront Times


So.... - Kit 21


Gina Gala takes place this Saturday, March 2 at 2720 Cherokee. Dubbed “a celebration of women in the arts,” various artistic disciplines will be represented, though the musical portion of the evening, which begins at 8 p.m. Performers will include Lauren Zehara, Letter to Memphis, Blue Fruit Snacks, Lauren Haas, and B.E.L.L.A., founded by songwriter Heather Buckley-wilson. Proceeds will be split among a variety of causes, including Growing American Youth and Vona’s Angels.

Buckley-wilson started the event to network with and showcase other female-fronted acts in St. Louis. To some degree that type of get-together was born of necessity. Though able to go out and find new music on occasion, much of time is spent at home with husband Zach and the couple's four young children. Bringing a musical act into that mix has obviously been an interesting and challenging addition to her life, but one that’s also shifted her creative attentions away from dance.

On her birthday earlier this week, the South City-residing Buckley-wilson responded to a handful of questions, regarding both her band and this weekend’s event.

For those unfamiliar, can you give some basic descriptions of your music and your collaborators?

B.E.L.L.A. is made up of Derrick Richard and I. I’ll give him some weird abstract picture to describe the mood and he make my audible picture into a reality. We call it “quip”: quirky indie pop. Sometimes it’s blues rock, sometimes it’s bright-colored pop, add a little dubstep and really honest lyrics and you have B.E.L.L.A. We like to think of our music as a mix of Blondie and Tracy Chapman; although Derrick’s NIN man-crush surfaces every now and again. B.E.L.L.A’s music is relatively upbeat. That’s our music in a nutshell.

Talk a bit, if you would, about the creation of your music. For instance, how it begins, in terms of what instruments and when lyrics come into the picture?

Okay, get ready for a TMI. It usually starts in the shower. Sometimes it feels like I'm in my own dream sequence: raging rock guitars, soaring choirs, bright lights, strings for a touch of drama. That’s how it starts. I get the melody, and music... words are always fuzzy, but still there. I always have to go back, and fill in the blanks, but if it was too easy everyone would do it, right?

Launching a music career can be tough enough. How do you balance your music with a busy home life?

You marry a Wilson man! When I'm writing, or recording, or rehearsing and the kids need something, he really picks up my slack. Short of adequate ponytail making, we'd be lost without my husband. It’s overwhelming because we have a small tribe, but we do what we have to do to get where we want to be.

How did this weekend's festivities come into being? What was the process of lining up the venue and the acts?

Before B.E.L.L.A., I bellydanced. I was used to performing with women, and for women. Switching to gigging with the band, I didn’t meet many women. I said to a friend, at rehearsal, "We should have a show of all women performers." There, the Gina Gala was born. Since I'm really new to the music scene, I relied on a friend of mine, Edgefield C. Johnson. He pointed me in the right direction as well as plain old hooked me up. He introduced me to Devon Cahill of Letter of Memphis.

Have you played with these folks before? If not, what local acts have you shared a stage with in recent times? Even beyond that, who would you enjoy playing with, if given the option?

Recently we played we Edgefield C. Johnson, JR Rudd, Liberation Redux. Allyson from Liberation Redux is also playing the Gina Gala. If I had my choice, far and wide, I would love to play for Alanis Morissette, Citizen Cope, and no matter how random... Marry Me Jane. That’s my musical orgasm!

Any projects in the works beyond live playing? For example, are you recording? How about trying to place music "in the right hands,” etc.?

I am currently writing for an indie label in Seattle. B.E.L.L.A. is in the process of mixing our first album, called Juxtapose. It will drop around the end of April. The label will shop our record with their artists on the west coast. My cousin wrote most of Dawn Richards’ album and some songs on Keisha Coles’ last album. I’m not an R&B girl, but I firmly believe, once done, the music will get to where it needs to be. Look: less than a year ago, I worked at a job I saw no future in. We decided WE are the authors of our destiny and it’s only us to blame if we don’t take control of it.

- Saint Louis Magazine


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

So...we would get together after choir and go over covers we could do, but I found it difficult to really get into most of the covers. Derrick said, "Heather, maybe you should start writing again." It was like a light switch went on. I hadn't written in years....almost forgot I knew how.
Within a month, we had more than enough material for 2 albums. We started playing with some different sounds. It was electronica, daring, different without losing what could be off-kilter commercial appeal. We call it QuIP- Quirky Indie Pop--It's a note twisted in an unexpected way, an change of key, an accidental that gives really nice depth. B.E.L.L.A.'s music is a cool mix of a little rap, a little rock, a little electronica, and alot of POP!!!