Therina Bella
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Therina Bella

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Rock


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"Let's Hold Hands And Watch The World End"

Therina Bella - Let's Hold Hands And Watch The World End (Eyelash Wish)
A concept album of sorts, based upon two people meant for each other and, as luck would have it, they finally get together when the planet is at a minute to midnight (or, as Therina Bella puts it, “It’s about having an emotional apocalypse”). Not exactly a cheery premise, whatever the definition, but that doesn’t stop Therina from belting out the songs that make up the album. Add to that a production of the highest quality and you have a contender for, er, well, to tell the truth I’m not exactly sure what. It isn’t prog, it’s not quite metal, it isn’t AOR… what about just good old plain hard rock?

It’s fascinating stuff. “Brace Yourself”, the album’s midpoint, has a haunting acoustic opening that gives way to a bombastic bit of heavy. The cello on closing number “Ether” is truly gorgeous too, as it is at the end of “Up In Flames Reprise”, where Therina’s piano gets top billing, which it thoroughly deserves. You have to be able to like a bit of ‘over the top’ to appreciate this sophomore collection of songs (let’s face it, with an album title that ‘does what it says on the tin’ you really should expect it), and if that’s within your scope then you’ll find quite a lot of enjoyment here. Maybe on album three Therina will show us more of her quiet, melodic side; but, then again…

Kev A. - Leichester Bangs

"Pretty In Punk"

Cathy-Ann Borges has a new look.
Gone is the brunette catholic school teacher of yore (OK, OK — 2007, when AWE last profiled her), and in her place is a raging glam-rock goddess with hot pink hair and a slash of Ziggy Stardust across her face.
But don’t go all Gaga about it. The Staten Island singer-songwriter better-known as Therina Bella isn’t ripping off the Lady’s much-documented reinvention from mousy collegiate singer-songwriter to Technicolor pop icon.
To hear her tell it, she was practically born this way.
"As far as the hair goes, I used to always have pink hair. I’ve been dying it since I was 13," says the Elm Park resident, laughing at the suggestion she copied Mother Monster’s wigged out gimmickry. "Pink, blue, all kinds of colors. But after I graduated from college, I had to get a real job. Being a catholic school teacher, pink hair could be a little distracting for the kids."
But last year, she decided to go back to her roots — only in reverse.
The result: Therina Bella & The Terrible Girls’ "Let’s Hold Hands And Watch The World End," out June 14 on iTunes and other online outlets.
Billed as an "alt-rock album of epic proportions," the ambitious new release finds Bella trading in the poppy, acoustic-driven sound of her previous recordings for wailing, fuzzed out guitars, soaring string sections, grand pianos and emotionally charged, powerhouse vocals.
"I had this storyline in my mind: You’ve been in bad relationships all your life, then you meet the person you want to spend the rest of your life with — but there’s no more life to spend," says Bella, who started writing songs as a student at Port Richmond High. "I think there’s a real, intense longing and feeling of helplessness about that situation. I really think like a novelist, not a songwriter. I write a bunch of ghost melodies but no lyrics. I sit on these songs for a really long time, thinking what they might really be about."
Sure, Therina’s new album may be dark, but the artist herself is not.
Borges/Bella is a self-described "petite, pink-haired, giggling, cupcake-loving, quick-witted, sock-collecting girl" who claims her two best friends are also cats.
"I definitely tend to explore the darker side of my personality in my music," says the singer-songwriter, adding that some of her greatest musical influences have been ones that tend to focus on doom and gloom like Nine Inch Nails, Joy Division, PJ Harvey, Nirvana and David Bowie’s earlier work.
Therina composed and arranged her new tracks, with production by Joey Martino. She is backed by her rhythm section, The Terrible Girls, who are actually Ted Maniatakos on bass and Daniel Bradley on drums.
So, what spurred the switch from coffee-house chanteuse to electrified rock rebel?
"Well, I was fortunate enough to jam with Daniel and Ted and they are very progressive players," said Bella, whose music has appeared everywhere from XBox video game soundtracks to "The Real World" on MTV. "I decided to try and write an album that would highlight their talents which ended being a much heavier, darker departure from my earlier work. It was a great and fun challenge as a composer to write music for the musicians I work with." - AWE Magazine Cover Feature

"Indie Music Reviews "Waiting For A Ghost""

A few minutes into this release, and you’ll realize you aren’t listening to an acoustic album. Therina Bella puts the guitars up front on this collection of emotional and heartfelt songwriting, but there are plenty of quirky electronica flourishes and synth textures to keep things very interesting.

Some of the songs are almost minimalist. "Ghost" is the best example, just an electric guitar, some percussive support, and plaintive vocals. A bit of synthesizer comes in for the instrumental break, but as with the rest of the album, it’s the singing that demands attention. Another minimal cut, "Southern Comfort," is moody and atmospheric, sounding like collaboration between Bella and Boards of Canada. Quite an inspired piece, especially when the electronic noises come into the foreground.

Bella doesn’t theorize in her songwriting; most of the lyrics are drawn from her real life experiences and tragedies. It’s tough to hang your personal life out for all to see and hear — if the album sucks, the content won’t matter much. Fortunately, these songs are good, and the emotion in them comes through loud and clear.

"Terrible Girl" is one of the best cuts on the disc. There’s more of everything -- fuller instrumentation, and a great bouncy keyboard riff that doesn’t detract from the overall melancholy of the song. Self depreciation, combined with electronic pulses, usually equals fodder for the me-so-hurty-mope-rock crowd, but in Bella’s hands it’s something quite enjoyable, begging for another listen as soon as the song’s finished.

Waiting For A Ghost is a consistently good CD from start to finish, which isn’t easy to pull off in the first place; when the disc is full of heavy, personal lyrics, the task at hand is almost impossible. Jewel, Tori Amos and Lisa Loeb are guilty of writing at least one or two completely precious, overblown and insufferable clunkers each. Therina Bella has no such contamination on her CD. Hats off to her for making it all work.
- Indie Music

"Therina Bella Rocked Bearfest!"

Therina Bella ROCKED insanely hard to visuals of apocalyptic disasters, tearing the house down with a very powerful and epic set. - Vito Spatafora

"Waiting For A Ghost Review"

Some songs are commercial, some are personal. This release from Therina Bella is a very personal collection of songs. It is dedicated to her late father and the songs express her loss.

"Terrible Girl" has a buoyant arrangement that contradicts its dark lyrics. "Deep Breath" likewise seems bouncy and happy until you listen to the words. This was one of the most difficult albums we have had to review. It felt like we were eavesdropping on her thoughts.

So, in conclusion, this is not an album to listen to for light entertainment. It can, however, be quite distracting as it does grab your attention and draws you into the songs. Whilst certainly melancholy, it is not depressing or unimaginative. Perhaps not an album that you could listen to every day but it is honest and should be given credit for that.
- Blues Bunny

"Waiting For A Ghost Review"

From whispery vocals tinged with sadness to torrential cries, Therina Bella’s Waiting for a Ghost is steeped with emotion. The album—filled with atmospheric pads, dreamy mystical harmonies, and haunting melodies—is written in memory of her father who recently passed away. This makes for a very diverse and interesting listening experience. In opener “Escape,” Bella writes, “We’re packing our heart-ache inside some milk crates. We’re planning our escape. I buried my daddy, but I can’t seem to get the dirt from under my nails.” These are touching, imaginative, and creative lyrics that fit perfectly with the moodiness of the piece. The track is comparable to an Aimee Mann tune, except with more interesting production such as undulating, ghost-like harmonies eliciting feelings of floating across the dark river Styx. Bella clearly has a way of creating vivid imagery lyrically and musically.

One of the highlights of the album, “Forever,” has great production quality that includes violin plucks, twinkling piano riffs, and impressive guitar solos. At first, the vocals sounded a bit distant as though they were produced in the basement of a home. Then, it became apparent that the echoic vocals were purposely made that way to sound like ghosts in the background, alluding to the album’s title. She sings in her higher register vocal range during the choruses in this song, which is reminiscent of Tori Amos or Kate Bush.

Other than outstanding vocals, Therina Bella’s greatest talent is her ability to produce certain songs in a unique and unpredictable way. For example, “Southern Comfort” starts with light drums, simple string pads, and warm subdued vocals. Then, out of nowhere you hear an electronic MIDI mosaic that sounds like a video game. The song is a nostalgic story of living out her father’s dreams, so the game MIDI does not seem to fit the lyrics or mood of the song, but it still works in an offbeat way.

The final track, “Goodnight,” is written as if Bella’s father is singing to her. She writes, “Go to sleep baby I’m sad to see you blue. Close your eyes for a dream. I’m watching over you.” The lyrics, in addition to choir-like harmonies in the background of the chorus, make the song a tear-jerker. It makes one feel that her father would have been proud to hear her. Bella’s Waiting for a Ghost should be lauded for her ability to take a tragic topic and turn it into a beautiful, sad album with melodies of hope, inspiration, and happiness rather than just utter despair. - The Red Alert

"Therina Bella On Recording- The Gearwire Interview"

Cathy Borges, AKA Therina Bella, is an indie singer-songwriter based in New York. Her work has appeared in diverse places including MTV's The Real World, and XBox video game soundtracks. Her most recent CD, Waiting For A Ghost was released by Eyelash Wish Records.
Gearwire's Joe Wallace got Borges to share her experiences in the studio; she believes it's best to admit when you don't have the technical skills to pull off what you'd like to do once the recordings are done. Then, says Cathy Borges, it's time to bring in an expert hired hand and invest some trust.

Tell me all about Therina Bella, how you got started recording, and what kind of recording set up you use.

I’ve been making music for about 10 years. When I was 16 I got a Tascam Porta-7 four-track recorder. It taught me the basics of multi-track recording. I made some pretty cool demos with it, learned how to bounce and ping-pong tracks and mix pretty well. I became very good at recording a performance in one or two takes because for a long time, I didn’t know how to punch in or out on tape!

I actually didn’t own a computer until five years ago, and only because I needed it for college. I got an EMAC G4. I took some audio engineering courses in college and learned MIDI sequencing, Pro Tools, Logic, Reaktor, Reason. When I started using Pro-Tools LE, I didn’t even know what a desktop was! It was very slow going at first, but eventually I learned to use Pro Tools and Logic. I prefer to record in Pro Tools because it is the closest thing to analog recording as far as interface and logistics go. It’s not a great MIDI sequencer, but for the most part, I play everything myself, so I really don’t use MIDI.

At home, I have an M-BOX. I usually make acoustic demos of all my music on that with Pro-Tools LE. I sing direct into a Shure 58 and play my Taylor CE-614. A very bare-bones set up. When I feel a song is ready, I take it to my buddy Dave Schurtman at Grey Recording Studios in NYC.

At Grey we use Pro Tools and the Digi-02. We had a standard Mackie Mixer going through before it got to the Digi-rack, which adds some color to the sound before entering the rack. Most of the effects we used were part of the factory bundle the Digi-002 came with.

I still love my 4-track, because that thing NEVER crashes on me!! Sometimes recording on a computer can be nerve racking because of the bugs you sometimes run into, or the computer crashes before you got to save your last take! Most of my college experience in audio engineering was weeding through all the software bugs and figuring a way around them.

What kind of mics do you prefer?

The mic I like best for my voice in particular, is the Audio-Technica AT4040. I am a mezzo-soprano and I like to bring out the lows in my tone and minimize the highs, I found this mic does that for me. It's affordable too.

What about vocal processing and effects? What do you gravitate to for studio recording?

On my lead vocals I usually don’t affect them too much, unless I am going for a specific sound or feel. My CD, Waiting For A Ghost, had lots of reverb on the backing vocals, which gave it that chorus of angels feeling I wanted. We just used the Reverb plug-in that came with the Digi-002 rack, which is “True-Verb”, I believe. Nothing special!

We sometimes used a guitar-amp inbox effect on my vocals, which got that distorted sound in the song, “Escape”, and we used a slap-back delay in “Deep Breath”, which was a bit of a homage to John Lennon. We really didn’t use anything crazy or expensive, everything that came with the Digi-002 rack, we basically used.

When you go to Grey Studios, how much do you tweak your own work in the edit process?

I never edit my own material, or mix or master by myself. I provide input in editing, but never perform the tedious and monotonous task of actually editing myself. I arrange the music, and I have a basic idea of how it should sound, but I leave the mixing and mastering to the engineer I am working with. I think it is a bad idea to mix or master your own work because you’re too close to the project. It’s nice to have an extra set of ears or two to make a judgment call, especially if they had nothing to do with the recording of it. They can usually make the most constructive decisions about what sounds good or not.

What advice would you give to vocalists trying to get good vocal recordings in a home studio?

To get a great voice recording I think first and foremost you need to practice, practice, practice! You should know your lyrics and melodies well before you press the record button. It is a good idea to seek professional help with voice training. Even the most seasoned performers can benefit from studying the craft of singing. I majored in Opera in College, with no intention of ever becoming an Opera singer, only using the techniques I learned to get my voice into better shape. Boy did it help! You really should take a few lessons if you can afford to from a reputable teacher. It can be costly, but the knowledge will stay with you forever.

Always warm-up before you do a track by doing lip trills, vocal yawns, singing some scales and running through the song once or twice. When you feel like your voice is “there” and most singers know what “there” is, then record.

The problem I sometimes encounter with getting vocals to sound right is more in my delivery than anything else. I need to be in the “emotion” living the words. It’s like acting, you need to become the character in order for the song to be believable. Speaking the lyrics into a mirror and acting the words out helps a lot. Sure, you may feel like a fool, but it works-trust me! Also- I have learned how and where you breathe in a song can change the emotional delivery you project. The breath is almost as important as singing the right notes.

As far as the technical stuff goes, make sure you are singing with a pop filter in front of your microphone. This will eliminate plosives like the annoying PPP’s and Bbb’s that sometimes make a popping sound. Make sure you back away from the mic if your are singing loud, and come in very close if you are singing soft.

What kind of mics do you prefer recording with?

I have had the opportunity to try out most of the best high-end microphones on the market, including some vintage microphones that are no longer manufactured. The mics that sound best with my voice are usually the ones that minimize the high-end and bring out the lows. Most female vocalist have the same problem as me, with wanting to minimize the highs, most men, of course, would be the opposite. I think there is a “perfect” mic for every “vocal type”. I really love the AT 4040. Most high-end microphones, (which cost a thousand and above) sound beautiful, no matter how you sing. The AKG 414 Condenser is great. - Gearwire

"Best NYC Unsigned Bands of 2010"

Trust Me, This Is All Better Than Kings Of Leon Or Pete Yorn With FREE Downloads Of Great Local 2010 Music featuring Therina Bella and The Terrible Girls - Rich Russo/ Anything Anything

"Collected Sounds, "Waiting For A Ghost" Review"

Therina Bella (real name Catherina Ann Borges) is a quiet enchantress on this record. It shows a slight resemblance to the works of Mazzy Star and Cat Power. But she has her own voice. She was inspired by the grief she felt at her father’s death and has shaped a delicate but urgent collection of songs.

“Forever” is a fabulous song that’s like Kristin Hersh’s “Your Ghost” in its impact and graceful sadness.

“Ghost” is exquisitely played and sung, even as Bella wrests beauty out of sorrow.

“Deep Breath” is more assertive but no less forlorn. Bella’s lovely vocal makes it all better.

The synth poppy “Terrible Girl” is a change of pace and proves her versatility.

Therina Bella’s album is well worth finding. - Collected Sounds

"Twitter Roundup"

"@therinabella - Possibly the only Staten Island artist to have music appear on the soundtrack to an XBox game, Therina Bella is a local gem that should not be forgotten (I mean just check out this cover of Radiohead’s creep or AWE’s original video for her track “I Have Arrived”) Therina recently performed at the WSIA greenbelt concert series, and was applauded by local enigma VF_Dos in the comments section of her Myspace profile. “Your cover of Creep blew everyone away. Very strong vocal performance on that. Especially since alot of people like to cover that song, the fact that you made your version stand out says a lot about how good you really are.” - Dock Street Blog

"Therina Bella And The Terrible Girls To Play Pianos"

On Monday, May 17, local songstress Therina Bella and her band The Terrible Girls (ironically all men) will grace the stage of Pianos at 158 Ludlow Street, Manhattan.

Not one to shy away from branching off the island (Bella’s music has recently been showcased on WRXP), Bella and her band are sure to make an impression with lovingly-crafted ballads and crunchy guitar pop.

Songs like “The Wreckage” and “Waiting” have a glorious tone of 90’s to them (in a good way), hearkening back to The Cardigans and their sweetly-crafted yet darkly tinged wink-nod to the more-ambitious side of life.

So check them out. Support a local act and get off this island every once and a while. - Dock Street Blog

"Who Is Therina Bella?"

Therina Bella knows a little something about the music business.
Not merely because her rocking acoustic songs have been licensed for play on MTV's "The Real World" or featured in the Mature-rated XBox game "Outlaw Volleyball," though those are impressive accolades for a still relatively unknown musician from Staten Island.
Perhaps more importantly the singer-songwriter has already weathered a bit of the dark side of the biz as well.

"I gave this publicist $3,200 to promote my last record, and I got no press whatsoever," she sighs. "She didn't even show up to my CD release party. But she e-mailed me the next day, telling me she had to have minor heart surgery, so she couldn't make it."
Borges, who plays a show at The Cup in Stapleton tomorrow, isn't cold hearted. Nobody questions that kind of excuse, even if they have reason to expect it's a ploy. But the publicist who took her money did promise to do a lot of things, and failed to deliver -- or even give a refund.
"I kind of want to go on 'Judge Judy' or something, and try and get half my money back," said Borges, laughing.
Ah well, you live, you learn, and Borges seems to possess a good sense of humor about it all, whether she's writing lyrics for an original song or telling dirty jokes at her monthly Monday night open mic at The Cup.
In fact, there are several Therina Bella songs that actually deal with the fickle and sometimes tawdry aspects of the music business. But as a musician teaching piano, vocals, and guitar out of her Elm Park home, this self-described "aspiring sell-out" has known what she was getting into for a long time.
"I'd be willing to sell a song to Paris Hilton," says the music industry realist. "When Lindsay (Lohan) gets out of rehab, I could write a special piece for her."
It's not all jokes, though. Borges' 2006 release, "Waiting for a Ghost," was written while dealing with the loss of her father, who died unexpectedly in 2004 -- four days before Borges would graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in vocal study at City College.
Dad, who always defined his lack of musical talent to Borges by reminding her that he "couldn't rub two sticks together," was a huge supporter of his daughter's efforts.
"He was my chauffeur and my roadie after he retired," Borges says. "He would take me to all of my gigs and came to every single one of my shows."
Now, the rest of Borges family is filling the void left by her proud papa.
Her 5-year-old niece plays harmonica in Therina Bella, and carries around the tip jar after performances. The youngest of four children, Borges started pretty early herself, writing her own songs early on, as a student at Port Richmond High School.
When she sought out none other than legendary Staten Island shredder Bumblefoot (Ron Thal) as a voice-strengthening coach, the more experienced musician took an interest.
"He asked me if I wrote my own songs, and I said yes," says Borges. "He wanted to hear some, and he started recording demos. Then we lost touch for a little while, but we got back in touch in 2003 and he recorded my debut album."
Bumblefoot, who has been touring the world this year as a guitarist for Guns 'N' Roses, wasn't able to produce the sophomore effort of Therina Bella -- the name that Borges uses for her solo work as well as when she plays with a backing band.
But all of Borges' acoustically driven tunes show a young woman capable of myriad emotions and their expressions. Whether she's singing the funny attention-grabber "I Have Arrived" or darker songs, Borges' rock influences -- from David Bowie and Queen to PJ Harvey and Nine Inch Nails -- come through.
"I'm pretty much straight-ahead rock," Borges says.
- AWE Magazine


Let's Hold Hands And Watch The World End LP (2011)
Don't Tell Me EP (Released 2010)
Waiting For A Ghost LP(Released 2007)
Honey Wagon LP (Released 2003)



What if you spent your entire life searching for your soul mate only to discover once you’ve found them that the world was about to end? That is the concept behind Therina Bella’s latest release, “Let’s Hold Hands And Watch The World End”.

“Let’s Hold Hands And Watch The World End” is an alternative rock album of epic proportions featuring wailing fuzzed out guitars, soaring string sections, grand pianos, and Therina’s emotionally charged powerhouse vocals. She is backed by her progressive rhythm section, The Terrible Girls, who are ironically three boys, Ted Maniatakos on bass, Daniel Bradley on drums and Johnathan Burk on synthesizers.

“I don’t really think like a songwriter.” Therina admits, “I think more like a novelist. The songs on the album tell the story of a young woman who finally meets her soul mate and then has to deal with the world ending knowing they can never really be together. It’s the ultimate star crossed scenario.”

Therina’s vocal delivery on the album carries with it intense longing, sadness, regret and sometimes even rage. You can feel every emotion she is evoking with every incredible note that she sings. She also composed, arranged and performed many of the instruments on the album including all the guitars.

The album may be dark, but Therina herself is not. She’s a petite, pink haired, giggling, cupcake loving, quick witted, sock collecting girl who claims her two best friends are also cats. “I definitely tend to explore the darker side of my personality in my music.” Therina claims some of her greatest musical influences have been the ones that tend to focus on doom and gloom like Nine Inch Nails, Joy Division, PJ Harvey, Nirvana and David Bowie’s earlier work.

“My album isn’t necessarily about the world literally ending. It’s about having an emotional apocalypse. About being to blame for destroying your own happiness and how you pick up the pieces once the world that you know is over.”

Therina’s music has been featured on Xbox video game soundtracks, on MTV’s The Real World and Road Rules and has also been heard on NYC’s mainstream rock station, 101.9rxp and on XM radio’s indie show, The Radar Report. Her first cd entitled, Honey Wagon was produced by famed Guns N’ Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal.

She lives in New York City surrounded by instruments, books and cats. Mostly cats.