BS: I rarely have a specific intention as far as genre goes when making music. I’m usually more interested in capturing a certain feeling a particular sound or combination of sounds evoke. I think it’s a sort of primitive process informed by a visceral reaction to certain sounds, which I guess could lead to something unusual.
JW: Any musical influences?
BS: I’ve been influenced by all kinds of music — punk, post-punk, blues, avant-garde, classical, hip hop, indigenous music — pretty much everything! Although, it’s not necessarily the components of what make up a genre of music that I’m most inspired by, but it’s more about a certain rawness or authenticity, usually distinct to a specific artist or band, that moves me most, and makes me want to create music. People like Scott Walker, Nina Simone, and Patti Smith come to mind.
JW: Do you write songs alone, or with others?
BS: Alone. Although, I used to be in a punk band where I collaborated on songs with my ex-boyfriend, who was also in the band, but since then I’ve only written songs on my own. I am open to writing songs with others, and actually have a few collaborations in the works, but I’d say writing by myself is kind of my default, and what comes most naturally to me.
JW: What are you doing when not writing music?
BS: I like going to shows and checking out new music. My sister, who also lives in L.A., is a painter and very involved in the art community, so I like to check out art with her sometimes too.
JW: Do you paint and draw as well as write?
BS: I draw, although I rarely do it. It’s something I’ve done since I was a kid, and I’m always telling myself to do more of because I really enjoy it. It’s kind of like meditation for me because it calms me down and sort of centers me, but for some reason I don’t make enough time for it. I also painted for the first time recently at my sister’s studio and loved it, so who knows, maybe I’ll do more of that! I did go to school for creative writing and used to write a lot of poetry, but haven’t done much of it since graduating. I think I got kind of burnt out on it. The only writing I really do these days is usually in the context of songs.
JW: What lies in the future for you?
BS: Hopefully I’ll continue to create music, and collaborate with musicians and artists I admire!
Bell Stray’s EP, Scribble the Pink, now available for Cassette (Limited Edition)
and digital orders
BS: It was an organic process that unfolded slowly. I started with just recording the songs individually, not really having an album in mind, but after hearing four of the five songs — which later became the EP — in succession I thought they’d work well together as a collection. At the time I was also going through some demos I’d previously recorded, and came across the song “Steady Sister,” a super lo-fi bedroom recording I‘d done. At that point I knew I was going to release the album on cassette and thought that “Steady Sister” would work well on that format because of its very lo-fi qualities, and would also add another layer of emotion to the album.
JW: Will you add drums and other instruments to your music?
BS: I’ve written some songs for my next album where drums will be more prominent, and which will also incorporate more instrumentation. My goal when making music isn’t necessarily to adhere to a minimalist aesthetic, but is more about doing what I think serves a song best, which could entail the use of sparse instrumentation on a song, or some sort of grand production — although I have yet to take that route!