Hailing from San Francisco, the 19-year-old R&B/Soul Singer/Songwriter Bella B releases her deeply conceptual single, "English Major."
Attending schools where she's heavily studied the performing arts, with her time at Marin Academy and Barnard College of Columbia University, Bella B developed vast songwriting skills to help shape her tender R&B sound.
Warming up the R&B scene with her conceptual and passionate single "English Major," Bella B sets sail into the sunset with jazzy and soulful instrumentation while singing her poetic message of love and knowledge.
"English Major" sweetly opens with mid-tempo percussion and soothing R&B keys. Once Bella B's heavenly vocals appear, she begins enlightening listeners on her educational venture and how she studies words to better understand the underlying message that her lover is portraying.
The supporting instrumentals bring the track to this mellow and serene space, with a groovy bassline, intricate drum patterns, and celestial keys, we can't help but keep our toes tapping the entire way through. She continues to sing with poise and confidence and swoons listeners with her passionate and detailed lyricism that depicts longing for a greater understanding of someone's words.
The overall tune brings listeners deep into the wondrous sounds of Bella B, and "English Major" is the perfect introduction for anyone seeking conceptual R&B that soothes the soul.
Hello Bella, thank you for joining us at BuzzMusic. We love the soul and life you've infused into your sweet single, "English Major." Could you tell us what inspired the song's lyrical theme and concept?
Thank you so much! Of all the genres of music, soul music has definitely been the primary influence for me. I believe that with every song, a little bit of an artist’s soul and heart should be revealed, and that is a concept that has stuck with me for many many years. I grew up on a lot of 90s R&B and Neo-soul, as well as Motown, Jazz Standards, and Classical music, but the soul is really where I found a place that felt like home.
In regards to the lyrical theme, it is a pretty simple one: Love. When I write, it's typically to process whatever emotional stress or happiness I am going through, and this song was no exception. I have recently fallen in love for the first time in my life, and it is real and true love, not the dumb fake loves that I had throughout middle school. I think there is a Lauryn Hill song that outlines the difference between infatuation and love; Doo-wop (That Thing) - I think that’s the one. For all the years of my life up until now, I actually did think on many distinct occasions that I had fallen in love with. But I was wrong. Because I am in love now and it is the most magical feeling ever, and I know in my heart that it is the first time I have ever felt it. As a college student (I attend Barnard College of Columbia University) in New York City, love is certainly complicated, to say the least. I think that it is extremely difficult to navigate love in the realm of college, an environment where there are so many different external difficulties, both academic and social. The added layer of being in a huge metropolitan city like New York makes things even more confusing. Further, the influence of hookup culture is huge in college, which definitely makes committed relationships a rarity in my experience.
That being said, I think falling in love at this time in our lives is a beautiful thing; we are young, we are growing and learning at a rapid pace, and what better time to fall in love with another beautiful human being who is doing all the same things and changing in the same ways that you are. This is why I think love at this time in my life is beautiful, but it is also very hard. How can one study academically and study love at the same time? Is it even possible? These are the questions that I had in my mind when writing this song. I haven’t really figured out the answers myself. Ask me in a few years and I will probably be able to give a clearer answer!
Seeing as you're an English Major, when writing "English Major," was it easy for you to find the perfect lyrics that suit how you feel? How has studying English further developed your songwriting?
It’s funny that you mention that because recently, I think I actually might switch my major to doubling in Economics and Film! This is crazy because I’m literally naming my album English Major, but this summer I have really fallen in love with the film through filming and producing my own music videos, and Economics is kind of my contingency plan just in case music doesn’t work out for me as a career. That being said, I write for the Columbia Daily Spectator; I will always songwriter; I will always write poetry - writing will always be my passion. Reading and writing are most definitely my central academic passions, but I also know that I don’t necessarily need to get a degree in those fields in order to study them. I have always been a bit of a nerd and I know that I will read all the Greek Tragedies, Aristotelian philosophy, and Shakesperian love sonnets on my own anyway. In terms of writing capabilities, I do definitely think that studying English and words, in general, has been really helpful for my songwriting. Having a quasi-prolific vocabulary has certainly made it easy to make up lyrics off the cuff, and I do think that it plays a central role in my ability to write music and release it at such a quick rate. More than that though, life experience has been the biggest propellant of my songwriting. I have found that the more difficult problems I encounter in my life, the richer my songwriting becomes. Having the vocabulary to synthesize those emotions into a simple song and melody is more of a convenient afterthought to the act of processing the feelings.
Within your single "English Major," we've noticed that the instrumentals are very organic and natural. Do you usually create unhindered and organic instrumentals, or do you dabble in the electronic realm as well?
I definitely have gravitated to organic sounds since I started playing music and singing. My first instrument was the piano, and I was basically forced into classical training for over 10 years since the age of 4. I decided at a certain point that it was time for me to branch out of that genre and explore other forms of musical expression, which is kind of what led me to songwriting. I picked up the guitar over quarantine, and so most recently, I have been writing songs on my guitar. This is all to say that since I am an instrumentalist as well as a singer-songwriter, I definitely appreciate the quality that live music brings to a recorded track. That being said, I definitely am open to creating music in all genres, and I am kind of up for anything. I think that if you look at the most successful musicians throughout history, they reach the amount of success that they do because they are able to transcend genres and exist in all of the genres at once. Though I may prefer live-sounding instrumentation, I think that it would be ignorant of me to say that I only want to use completely live sounds because there are simply too many fantastically creative genres of music out there; I don’t want to ever put myself in a box. My single from about a month ago, Better Than Saturday, has a bit more of an electronic influence, and I am hoping to put out more music in that style. I do not believe in disrespecting any genre of music, because I believe all music is beautiful. Throughout high school, I used to always say that I loved every type of music besides country, but recently, I’ve been listening to country music a lot more so I can branch out from my little R&B bubble, and I can honestly say that I kind of love it! I love the fact that the storytelling is so strong in country and folk music, and that is a truly beautiful thing.
In every genre, there is something special to be found. A goal of mine would be to make music in every major genre. So far I have existed in the R&B/Soul/Pop/Jazz realms, but I am open to anything, really.
We've heard that you're releasing your first album titled "English Major" by the end of this year, as well as a collection of music videos. What has your creative process been like for the album and videos, and has it been hindered by the world's current events?
I think that this is a really weird time for artists right now. What I have seen recently among my musician friends, as well as just from observing the music community at large, is that a lot of artists are taking advantage of the opportunity to create. I believe that the most powerful music often comes from times of great upheaval and difficulty, not just in one’s personal life, but in society at large. Art, music included, is the greatest form of resistance in my opinion. Because of this, I would actually say that the world’s current events have facilitated my growth as a musician in multifarious ways; I have been writing every single day; I make my own videos and have been experimenting with lots of visual mediums, and I have been working on honing my piano and guitar skills. Most recently, I have been attempting to teach myself how to produce! My goal is to be self-sufficient. As a college student, I don’t have a ton of disposable income to outsource the best and brightest producers in the world, so I want to gain the knowledge necessary to produce my own music, which will not only save money but will also allow me to have full control over my artistic process and vision. I have been told time and time again that a good song is simultaneously personal and universal. Seeing and taking in all the pain in the world and connecting that to my own personal experience has allowed me to live by this creed, crafting songs that I can connect with as an individual, and that I know others will be able to relate to as well.
Do you have any goals with your music that you'd like to achieve by the end of the year?
I am wary of making hard goals for myself in terms of my music because I think that this is probably the most difficult industry that one can break into. I don’t think that it would be realistic for me to say, for instance, “I want to have a Grammy by year’s end!”
That would certainly be a dream come true, but I am also a very pragmatic person, and I want to set small, achievable goals for myself. My main goal would at this point just be to make sure that I am putting out music that I really believe in. My hope is that other people will believe in my music too, and hopefully, I will be able to grow my listeners and my audience before the year is up. I know in my heart though that what’s meant to be will be eventually. If the song blows up, it blows up, and if it doesn’t, at least I will have put some art into the world that brings me joy and brings me peace. And I can always write another song!