By Hazel Reid
Meet Bella Cook, Wellington-based singer-songwriter aka Belladonna, whose debut single Hands saw her place in the APRA Silver Scrolls Top 20.
‘I was shocked, excited and confused at the same time’, Bella elaborating that as an independent artist just starting off it was really special to get that news.
Following on from her releases of Hands, Calling Out Your Name and Perfectly Good, Bella announced her upcoming five-track EP Salty Dog, released today. She is excited as ‘I think my songs are a little bit diverse in their sound so in that bigger body of work they all make sense together.’ Bella shared the songs are about adjusting into late adolescence ‘through a pretty New Zealand perspective’.
Bella tells of growing up in a very creative family with her Dad being a documentary photographer (Bella even photographed for Tearaway!) and older sister a musician, she says ‘I always had an interest in storytelling and music was always something I enjoyed doing but never had a need to share it with anyone. I was in high school writing songs in my bedroom and then I got to the point where I was like I actually enjoy doing this’.
Leaping into the Parachute Artist Development Programme based in Auckland, Bella describes it as ‘a year of incubation before you start out in the world’. She worked with Jane de Jong (aka Kiwi musician Ruby Frost) who had ‘a real focus on songwriting and developing that craft which was really refreshing.’ Bella’s first chance of recording included Salty Dog, Hands and Calling Out Your Name, released earlier this year and produced by Shannon Fowler at Parachute Music Studios.
Talking songwriting, Bella shared that her music is written in her bedroom and that they all ‘started off differently’ with inspiration coming from walking as ‘‘it’s a great way to clear your mind’. Leaving the studio is often where she gets an idea and ‘I think as an artist you are always keeping your eyes open for anything that can inspire an idea or song.’
Her music is inspired by The Beths, ‘I’m a big fangirl, I saw them at the Powerstation recently.’ She also has been listening to Fazerdaze, Frankie Cosmos and ‘grew up listening to Wilco and that all kind of feeds together somewhere.’ Her dream collaboration is with producer Rostam, previously part of Vampire Weekend and produced the latest Haim album, as ‘he’s got such an interesting way of fusing different sounds and genres and I just love everything he does,’ Bella shared.
After spending the first half of the year focused on releasing, performing live is on the agenda for the rest of 2020. Bella’s EP release show hits Wellington on 28th August at Newtown Library. Her eyes are set on Melbourne and will tour New Zealand within the next year, continuing to create and keep writing, keep experimenting and working with other musicians and seeing where that takes me’.