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INTERVIEW: Melissa Bel

Hi Melissa, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Awesome thanks! Answering these questions while on a flight back to Canada for my Mom’s wedding and to play a couple of gigs – and hopefully relax a little too!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Big Boys Don’t Cry”?

It’s an upbeat, cheeky, 50s-inspired pop tune that I wrote with Justin Gray and Ryan Cabrera, and it’s out on iTunes and Spotify Sept. 9th.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

There isn’t really a particular event or person this song was based on, but it’s generally about that guy who says he cares and then acts like a total dud. So it was easy enough to draw some inspiration from personal experience… I’ve never actually thrown anyone’s shit out the window though.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes! We just filmed it the other day with some amazing musicians in Plymouth. It’s going to be a live version, so a bit different from an official video, and it’s coming out on Sept. 9th as well 🙂

The single comes off your new album In The Light – what’s the story behind the title?

I feel like this is the first album where I haven’t held anything back when writing the songs out of fear of what people might think (including those who’ve actually inspired a particular song). I just laid much of the last year and a half of my life out on the table. “In the Light” is also the last song I wrote for the album, and I feel like it perfectly summarizes the story told throughout the record.

How was the recording and writing process?

Big Boys Don’t Cry was one of those songs that came together really quickly and we had a lot of fun writing. It was done in a couple of hours so we ended up writing another song afterwards! I recorded it back in Toronto, and we were on a budget so there weren’t any backup vocalists, all those BGs on the track are me.

What was it like to work with Justin Gray and how did that relationship develop?

Working with Justin was like finding my musical counterpart in a producer. It was great because he instinctively knew the type of sound I was going for, and what kind of tunes I wanted to write, and how to strike that balance of fresh and “pop-y” while still being soulful and cool and authentic. We’d been briefly introduced through my old label a few years ago but I couldn’t imagine why he’d work with me when he’s been working with people like Joss Stone and John Legend haha. Long story short, we met up for coffee when I was in LA singing backup for Francesco Yates, and then a few months later I asked if he knew any producers in Toronto that could give me the sound I was looking for. He said “if you come to LA, I’ll produce it for you”. And I said “YES!!!!”.

How much did he get to influence the album?

He played and programmed virtually all the sounds and instruments on the album, and co-wrote many of the tracks. So a lot!

What role does the UK plays in your music?

A lot of my biggest influences are UK artists: The Beatles, Adele, Ed Sheeran…The Spice Girls. And now that it’s my home, I’m focusing the promotional efforts for the record mostly on the UK and working hard on building my fanbase there. So far I’ve been blown away by the audiences – I feel like people love music there so it’s a good place to be!

What aspects of romance did you get to explore with this record?

So many. From wanting to break up, to breaking up, to the shock of realizing you were wrong about someone, to the fear of falling, to finding love like you’ve never found before – in Vegas of all places. There’s a lot of realizing you deserve awesomeness and are over putting up with less than that, like in “Big Boys Don’t Cry” and “Sobered Up”. “In the Light” is about a feeling I’ve never really had before until just before I wrote it. My good friend Gilly, who wrote my bio, described it as “encapsulating the naked hope and fear of finding profound, visceral love”. I’d say she nailed it.

Any plans to hit the road?

Plans are in the works now for a little tour of the UK and hopefully Europe once the album is released!

What else is happening next in Melissa Bel’s world?

The next single off the album will be out in October, so working on a concept for the music video which I’ll be filming shortly after I get back to the UK. I’m also planning the album launch party which will take place in Exeter just before the album comes out. And hopefully getting up to north Devon to try surfing before the summer is all gone!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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