Introducing Interview: Melissa Bel

With four recorded albums and numerous performances around the globe – including a BBC Introducing session – already under her belt, Toronto-born artist Melissa Bel has now shared her utterly infectious and gloriously uplifting new single, ‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’.

We caught up with Melissa to find out more…

Hi Melissa Bel, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hello! I’m a singer/songwriter originally from Toronto, but have been living in Devon since February 2016. I’ve been pursuing a music career for about ten years now and have released four albums over that time. My latest record, In the Light, was released in Nov. 2016.

How did you start creating music?
I started singing almost as soon as I could talk, and then I wrote my first song (which was actually more of a rap called ‘Believe In Yourself’…) when I was eight after seeing a TV show about songwriting. I basically wrote a bunch of words on pieces of paper, put them on the floor and rearranged them until I was happy with my lyrics. I started learning guitar when I was fourteen because I wanted to write more songs and be able to play along. My Dad is a bass player so I’d asked him to teach me the bass, but he suggested I learn guitar so that I could better accompany myself.

Your new video for ‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’ is out now – can you tell us what it’s all about?
‘Big Boys Don’t Cry’ is a break-up song with a sense of humour. It’s about the kind of break-up that sucks at the time, but you know is for the best. I wanted the video to have a light-hearted, upbeat vibe like the song, which is why we gave the ex-boyfriend character a very small role and focused on themes of positivity and self-confidence. We filmed it on a teeny tiny budget right in Exeter, and almost everyone you see in the video is one of my friends and/or bandmates!

You’ve been compared to the likes of Meghan Trainor and Taylor Swift, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
My influences range from The Beatles to John Mayer, to Joss Stone to Patsy Cline, and I think that’s why my music has never been one specific genre that’s easy to classify. I love pop and soul, which is the main direction we had in mind when making In the Light, but you still get bits of blues, like in the song ‘Sobered Up’, and a real singer/songwriter vibe in the the title track.

How is your local music scene? Do you go to see lots of live music?
Exeter is relatively small but has lots of gigs to offer, and like most music scenes it’s very close-knit and most of the musicians know each other. There really is a ton of talent here and I love the fact that I’ve met so many people who are making amazing, original music. It’s been very welcoming to me coming in as an outsider, and a great place to get my start in the UK. I probably don’t go see as much live music as I should (despite being a musician, I’m not much of a night owl), but I go to my friends’ gigs whenever I can.

And what can fans expect from your live shows?
I usually perform solo, so depending on the gig you’ll get just me and my guitar playing acoustic versions of my originals, covers, or a mix of both. Solo gigs are where my singer/songwriter side really comes out. I love shows where I get to tell the audience the stories behind the songs because I feel like sometimes you can connect as well in those moments as you can while singing. When I’m lucky, I get to play with a full band, which means a more upbeat show in general, and we can play the songs like they sound on the album.

As we’re a new music focused site, are there any new/upcoming bands or artists you’d recommend we check out?
Yes! Check out Brooke Palsson and Mike Todd – both Toronto-based – and Clara Bond who is also based here in Devon. All incredible singer/songwriters.

And how do you feel the music industry is for new artists at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
In my experience it has definitely been difficult to get noticed on a large scale. I think independent artists have a lot of useful resources at their disposal these days, but social media is a bit of a double-edged sword. It’s great because there is the potential to be seen and heard by tons of people, but there’s also so much content out there that’s it’s really hard to cut through the noise.

Finally, what does the rest of 2017 have in store for Melissa Bel?
The rest of the year will be spent playing live as well as getting the ball rolling for a small UK tour in early 2018. And I’m going back to Toronto for two sweet weeks off over Christmas! But I’ll be back in England for New Years Eve to perform at Lime Wood Hotel in Lyndhurst.

Huge thanks to Melissa for answering our questions! 

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