Dark pop singer-songwriter Bella Kaye finds herself somewhere between her influences’ (some of which are Taylor Swift, Lorde, and Gracie Abrams) unique pop sounds and her own raw honesty and emotions. Hailing from Southern California, Bella brings the kind of confessional, diaristic, vulnerability to her songs that listeners crave today.
Currently working on a concept EP, Bella is far from keeping all of her music to herself. In her most recent release, Bella tries on a Taylor Swift-esque reimagining of her own work. In May, Bella shared “Paint Me Blue,” a breakup song with a heavy alternative lean and self-blaming anger despite the song’s gloomy color. Returning to the song in “Paint Me Blue (bluer version)” for a deeper look at that time in her life and a cathartic reassessment of who she was at the time. We spoke with Bella about this softer, bluer version of her song in the interview below.
Showstopper Magazine Online: Hi, Bella! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is Bella. I’m a singer-songwriter who makes dark pop music. I’m a nature girly and love being outside. I play guitar, I love yoga and pilates and going on trail walks. I consider myself to be an introvert, but I love to perform. Performing is my favorite thing and every time I’m on stage I feel so in my element. I’ve been working hard all year on a project that is so close to my heart. It’s such a special process to be able to take such painful events and create art out of it. I’m very grateful!
SMO: What led you to music and your dark pop sound?
Music has always been my soul’s calling starting at a young age. For as long as I can remember I was always singing around the house and putting on shows for my family as a little kid. When I lived in Chicago I was involved in the Children’s Choir and participated in musical theater, as well as my school’s talent shows, but it wasn’t until I moved to California when my love and passion for music started to get more serious. I started with recording covers in a music studio each week, performing in coffee shops, and eventually was inspired to begin writing original music.
Finding your sound is definitely a process and I feel it’s a journey an artist will sort of always be on as it’s natural to evolve your sound as you evolve as a person. I’ve always wanted to make dark pop music but it’s been a journey getting to the sound I’m creating now. I feel as if I’ve gotten to know myself more as a person and gotten to know more about the process of creating music, I’ve learned so much and now have a much clearer vision of the sound I’m trying to create.
SMO: Tell me about “Paint Me Blue.” What inspired the song? What was your process for bringing it to life?
This song was originally written as a breakup song. It was my “cry of brokenness” as I like to describe it. It follows and ties along with my songs “Psycho Ex” and “Never Again.” “Psycho Ex” talked about when I ended the relationship while “Never Again” was written from the perspective I have today, reclaiming my worth and inner power. “Paint Me Blue” fills in the gaps of this story and takes the perspective of me finally realizing the relationship wasn’t good for me. It was a really cool process bringing this song to life since I had all the concepts for these songs before I began writing them. It allowed me to really paint out a bigger picture.
SMO: What made you want to make a “bluer version” of “Paint Me Blue”?
It was actually my mom’s idea which I am so thankful for. When I sat down and thought about how I wanted to create this bluer version, I began to look at this song completely differently. I took a self-introspective approach to it and it completely changed my connection to this song and what it means to me. It made me think a lot about what had transpired in my life between the time I wrote the original to re-recording the bluer version.
There was a lot that had happened in my life, a lot of difficult moments I endured. I looked at the lyrics in a whole new way and that’s when I realized all along I’ve been the one “painting me blue,” this is what I had been doing to myself in many different areas of my life. It was originally inspired by a breakup but, through this bluer version, took a whole new meaning to it.
SMO: You have said that while the original version of the song is about a relationship, this new version feels like it’s more about your relationship with yourself. Can you tell us more about that shift?
The shift occurred when I started thinking about creating a bluer version of this song. All of the sudden, the lyrics began to hit me so much differently. I reflected back on the time I wrote the original to the time I decided to record a bluer version, and what was going on in my life and everything I put myself through. I realized I was doing things that were detrimental to my own self. I was allowing things to happen, and I couldn’t see that until I took a step back and reflected.
SMO: What changes from the “bluer version” are you most proud of?
I am so proud of the sonic atmosphere we created with the strings and harmonies. Every time I listen to this song I want to cry! I feel there’s such a tender mood created in this one, and I’m also proud of the vocal arrangement. It was an emotional vocal session recording this one, and I feel elements of that came through in this song.
SMO: You are currently working on releasing a concept EP. Can you tell us about that project? What ties it all together? How do your recent releases fit into that theme?
Ah yes, I am so excited to start releasing music from this EP! This project is so special to me. My recent releases set the scene for my EP, touching on what happened in my life before the events described in my EP. The EP is when I dive into my self-destruction phase, and this self-destruction is what ties the whole project together. There are a couple themes that are pretty consistent throughout. I don’t want to give it away quite yet. It definitely touches on some of the hardest things I’ve gone through so far in life.
SMO: If that project was a color, what would it be? Can you explain?
This is such a great question and something I’m still considering as I’m currently in the creative designing process. My EP touches on pretty dark concepts and sonically fits in the landscape of dark pop, so right now I envision it being darker blues, but stay tuned to see what I end up deciding on 🙂
SMO: Is there anything else you want people to know about you or your music?
I’m really into self-growth and personal development. I love journaling and introspecting, not only in my songwriting but also in my daily life. I’m a really big believer in treating yourself and speaking to yourself with kindness and love. I feel words are so powerful, and I really believe in honoring yourself and what you are feeling. My greatest wish is for my music to touch and resonate with others and allow it to be this vessel of art for someone to feel their feelings, allowing themselves to feel seen, heard, and understood. If you’re reading this right now, I’m sending you lots of love. <3