Do you have the time, money, effort, heart, or passion to get into the music game? Do you think you have the energy to work a 42-hour work-week, take 15 credit hours of college course work, and go into the studio to sing in your spare time? If you are thinking about getting in the music game, this is an insightful conversation that should be of interest to you.
Singer/songwriter Chelsey Bell was kind enough to make time in her busy schedule for an exclusive interview with eXcapethematriX to discuss her first professionally produced single “Forgetful”. PAUSE!
It may help to listen to the track first before continuing the rest of the article: www.myspace.com/chelseybellsmusic.
I was introduced to this wonderful talent as I heard her track “Forgetful” coming from a co-workers cubical. When I inquired what station she was listening to, I was quickly corrected. Little did I know, the song I was listening to was actually the first professional track produced by Chelsey Bell, another co-worker’s stepdaughter. This one track CD was making its way around the office and I was apparently the last to know. As I polled others who had listened to it, they all commented that the track was really good. Who is Chelsey Bell?! I had to sit down with her and learn a little more about what we can expect in the future.
Chelsey was very pleasant and enjoyable to talk to during our hour and fifteen-minute interview. She has a full-time job as an IT Coordinator for a local company, attends the University of Houston working toward a degree in psychology, and makes time in the late evening to go to the studio to work on her music career. Although a career in music is her lifelong dream, completing her degree is clearly Chelsey’s first priority.
The offspring of a biracial relationship, Chelsey has always sensed that she was different from most of the kids growing up in a predominantly White neighborhood. Chelsey grew up in Tomball, Texas before moving to Branson, Missouri and then back to the Houston metropolitan area to complete middle and high school. This change in environments would help develop Chelsey into the diverse woman she has become: exposed to a broad array of music types and people. Chelsey is very personable and can relate to anyone. Musically, she enjoys listening to a number of genres including Pop, Punk Rock, Hip-Hop, Soul, and R&B, which include the sounds of Fiona Apple, Mariah Carey, Lauren Hill, and Alicia Keys. Her early exposure has become an asset to exploring some musical options that may not be that simple for someone who has not been exposed to a broad range of music and cultures.
“Forgetful”, written by Chelsey, is a mixture of truth and fiction based on past relationships with men. “The song is not out of anger. It is triumphant. Not treating you how he did before—you know he is cheating on you, but you don’t want to admit it. I am at a point in my life where I am happy. ‘I remember the stuff that you did, but it doesn’t matter because I have a man who is treating me right and I am doing well.’ I know a couple of people that have gone through that exact situation and I talked to them. ‘I know that you see me and now that I am good [you want me]… NO!’ ” expressed Chelsey. “If you can’t relate to it now, the sad reality is that you probably will at some point. I hope you don’t. Not anything against men, but things happen,” she continued.
“Although a career in music is her lifelong dream, completing her degree is clearly Chelsey’s first priority.”
The song starts like a Pop tune, then settles down into a contemporary Urban/Hip-Hop groove. The track isn’t over produced with unnecessary textures or background music. The success of this track—and ultimately Chelsey Bell—is the inability to characterize her or her music. This, of course, assumes that the rest of her tracks follow this formula. It simply isn’t possible to have a crossover hit if your song can’t be categorized. Appropriately so, this does not bother Chelsey as it may give her a broader audience than most artists, similar to the success that Beyoncé has seen with crossing both Pop and R&B charts. “Being biracial you get people’s opinions whether you want them or not, so why wouldn’t they give you their opinion with your music?” I have to agree with Chelsey that she doesn’t sound like any other artist you have heard.
Ms. BellAfter several, unsuccessfully trips to the studio with friends and associates in the music industry to make her musical dream a reality, Chelsey sought out the assistance of a well-established producer to create professional caliber songs worthy of radio play. Chelsey has entered into an agreement with Lab Ox Productions to create a 5-song demo in exchange for a royalty percentage if any of the songs get radio or play or if a record label signs her. To date, 2 of the 5 songs have been completed (the second song was completed after this interview). Chelsey is very pleased with the effort and coaching provided by Lab Ox in the studio thus far. According to her, her first track took 20 hours to produce over a period of 4 days in the studio with her producer Lab Ox. “It’s not like he made beats and I am like, ‘Okay. I like that one,’ which is what I have always done before. It kind of made for my voice and made for whatever idea I am trying to get across,” said Chelsey. They appear to have a great working relationship that does not waste valuable time; hers or studio hours. After previous experiences in the studio supporting other artists with background vocals, Chelsey feels very comfortable in a production environment under proper guidance. “He wants the work [song] to be mine.” Chelsey is financing this endeavor on her own.
What are you listening to on your iPod right now?
Danity Kane, Leona Lewis and Sarah Barellas.
How did you get involved in Music?
I have been singing forever. My Dad was into music. I was always singing as a little kid. I always wanted to do it. It wasn’t really something that I thought I could actually get into. I know that I can sing, but I didn’t think I could actually do it. Probably in the past 4 to 5 years, I started actually pursing it by singing at open mics. I always have been shy about singing in front of people. I lived in Tomball and we moved when I started going to Lamar, a more diverse school. You didn’t have to be rich or have connections. It was something that I could actually do.
How shy are you? Would you rather sing in front of people or speak in front of people?
I am really comfortable speaking in front of people. I am comfortable with words. I am getting more comfortable with singing in front of other people. I do still get stage fright before a performance. It’s just the nerves beforehand.
Where do you prefer to perform the most?
Red Cat Jazz Café. I got to know everyone there.
Do you prefer to cover a song or sing your own material?
Ya know, I haven’t sung my own songs before. The song that you hear, “Forgetful”, is my first finished product. I have been in the studio for 2 to 3 years and it has always been a friend atmosphere… They want to work for me, but there has not been a driving factor for them to work for me. I have song hooks and maybe getting half-songs done. I would love to perform it; I just have not done it before. I love to cover songs.
Tell me about your producer?
The producer I am working with now is really good. A lot of people push me one way, [whereas] he is really good about wanting the work to be mine. I actually met him through a close friend, Logan, who was in the beginning episodes of Making the Band season 4. I sought Lab Ox out. There was a girl who sang at Red Cat. I heard her song with him and it sounded really good.
“If I could wake up everyday and do something I love to do, that would be amazing. I don’t think enough people get to do that with their life…”
Do you have any formal music training?
I didn’t sing in a church choir. I was in band. I played the clarinet for a long time. I sang in the choir in middle school. I had never sung in a choir [before]. It was enjoyable. I would love to learn if I could find the time.
Do you have a desire to get formalized music training for your voice?
Yes. I took a couple of lessons from a music teacher for 2 or 3 months about a year ago just because I was singing at the Red Cat a lot. I was getting tired and out of breath. She showed me a couple of things that helped me. I would like to get more training.
What is your end game with music? Would you like to do it full-time?
I would love for this to be my job. If I could wake up everyday and do something I love to do, that would be amazing. I don’t think enough people get to do that with their life.
*As Ms. Bell continues her journey, I will be sure to keep you posted in the event you don’t hear her on the radio first! Check her out at www.myspace.com/chelseybellsmusic, listen to the song, and let her know that you heard about her in eXcape the matriX magazine!
Author RC-F, article appeared in 12.2008 issue of www.eXcapethematriX.com, checkout the latest issue Today!