Artist Spotlight: Belle Jewel
Whether it’s her own music or personalized songs, Belle Jewel blends indie pop energy with soulful vocals and highly emotive songwriting, demolishing genre conventions with every chorus she writes and urges one’s heart to ache with every line she sings.
From Utah’s burgeoning folk and pop music scene, Belle’s distinctive flair has attracted attention from sources like pop-rock artist Gavin DeGraw via her YouTube channel and singer-actress Miley Cyrus, Belle’s coach during her time on last year’s Season 11 of The Voice.
A modern artist with a vintage touch, Belle Jewel harbors a talent that seems only destined to continue to climb from her already promising start as a powerful singer-songwriter.
Songfinch: Can you walk us through your career as a songwriter, from how you got your start to where you are today?
Belle: I have always loved to sing, pretty much ever since I was a little girl. When I was 12 or 13 years old, my parents put me in voice lessons and I loved it. I ate it up. I got asked to have the lead in the first musical I tried out for, and I was hooked. When I was 15, I started my YouTube channel and I won an online competition through Gigg. The prize was to meet Gavin DeGraw. I covered his song, he loved it and so I was able to meet him. That competition gave me a lot of momentum and really encouraged me to keep going.
Then I kept doing covers, building momentum with performances, and that confirmed to me that this is what I want to do with my life. Then, I got a scholarship to BYU and I decided to go there for music, shortly after which I released my first EP. Then, I went on The Voice. All of those experiences accumulated into, here’s who I am as an artist, here’s what I want to do, and now I’m working on my first full-length album, which is going to be released later this year.
Songfinch: How was it juggling all those different pathways that got you to where you are today?
Belle: There are pros and cons to getting involved in so many different types of medias, if you will, of performing. I was also in a classical concert choir for about six years. We performed super operatic style vocal performances. All these different modes of vocal performances highlighted really early on in my life what I really want to do in my career and what I never want to do again. You have to be flexible in this day and age, you have to be able to get up on the stage, get in front of a camera, get behind the mic. You have to be able to do it all.
You have to be flexible in this day and age, you have to be able to get up on the stage, get in front of a camera, get behind the mic. You have to be able to do it all.
Songfinch: Which do you gravitate towards most?
Belle: My passion really lies in recording music and then going out and performing it for people. I enjoyed the performance aspect of The Voice, but I didn’t love the reality TV aspect of it. But it was great to be able to perform and just do what I love, which is singing in front of people, because that’s always been my passion.
Songfinch: I imagine it’s very fun to perform your style live, because there’s so much soul and energy and life to your songs. How did that style develop?
Belle: My dad is an artist and my mom is super cute, artsy, creative and has just an incredible style in general. Seriously, ever since I was in the womb they were introducing me to really good music, really quirky and different styles. I grew up on No Doubt, The Gorillaz, The Beastie Boys and The Cure — a lot of just quirky, soulful and unique sounding artists and bands. Through that, my parents really shaped my perception of myself, which was reflected through music, and I always wanted to get across the point that this is who I am. I want people to be able to get that just from listening to me sing. I want people to understand who I am just through my singing voice.
Songfinch: And we do seem to get a grasp of all that through your singing — your grit and your soul. The current release you’ve been working on, what’s been the songwriting process like for that?
Belle: This album is kind of inspired by the last year of my life. I moved out of the house. I decided to leave behind the scholarship of this college for which i had a lot of expectations as far as completing it, so it was taking a lot of scary steps into adulthood while also discovering the parts of my life that really matter to me right now. The whole process has been inspired by what I’m feeling and what I’m going through and trying to understand it in my own way.
Songfinch: How did that translate into the writing?
Belle: It has interestingly enough translated into a style I haven’t really done before. I’ve kind of been doing more of an indie singer-songwriter vintage-influenced style, and that’s all there, because that’s me, but I kind of have been brave enough to develop into a style that I’ve been wanting to do for the last four years, more of an indie-electronica, if you think of Banks, Lorde, Christine and The Queens, and artists such as that.
I kind of have been brave enough to develop into a style that I’ve been wanting to do for the last four years.
Songfinch: Your vocal style seems like a natural crossover with something like that.
Belle: There are a lot of dirty and quirky sounds in that style, with a lot of harsh synths and drums that play with my voice and the harmonies, so I think it’s going to be a really fun album. There are a lot of fun sounds, I’m super excited to release it.
Songfinch: It sounds amazing. When are you looking to release it?
Belle: I have a single coming out this month, and it’s kind of the title track to this album, explaining the pivotal moment in this past year that made me realize I have to do what makes me happy, even if it sucks at first. The rest of the songs are going to come out at the end of this year if we get everything all funded and paid for.
Songfinch: Which is always a fun journey. How does the songwriting process for crafting personalized songs with Songfinch compare and contrast to the music you’re working on?
Belle: The thing that’s consistent between how I write for Songfinch and how I write for me is I’m just a really emotional person, and that really comes through in my writing. Am I trying to evoke a feeling of nostalgia, of pain, of gratitude, of happiness? I really base all of my songs on the emotion that they come from first, and then the words just kind of happen. The difference is that I’m really trying to put myself in someone else’s shoes and write for them, kind of like a vessel through them, so it’s kind of like a fun game for me because I’m like coming back to my acting roots. How would this person perceive this situation? How would they react to that idea? It’s like sharing all this through my writing.