WIth an awesome performance at SXSW, a new album and a multi state tour to finish out the year, 2013 is panning out to be a busy one for Emily Bell. DeFY New York recently caught up with her to talk life on the come up.
DeFY: So you started performing in musicals at age 7, who got you involved?
Were there some living room performances that preceded your first
musicals at age 7?
Emily: My mom got me involved in music. She was in bands, and music has always been a big part of her life. I was put in kinder music at 5. I loved to sing Jimi Hendrix. Foxy Lady was a big request in the household!
DeFY: Foxy Lady is one of my fav’s, All Along The Watchtower too! You eventually go on to win a theater slot at Houston’s High School
for the Performing and Visual Arts but according to info off your site
high school was tough. Was it the course work or other things going
Emily: It wasn’t the course work. Since HSPVA is a magnet school and you have a heavier load with your regular courses plus your art focus, if you fall behind you don’t stick around. It’s a wonderful school that nurtures creative minds. I have just always been unable to sit still for a long period of time. I was getting impatient, really wanted to get out in the world and get my career going. It was like- “Let’s just get this over with already! I’m ready to go!”. So I decided to graduate early and got accepted into Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. I was 17, looking for bright lights in a whole new world. Inevitably, it was a big learning experience.
DeFY: How did you land your first recording experience and what was that like?
Emily: My very first recording experience was in New York with a dude named Monk who was in a hip hop group. Back before I moved, my sister, who was living in Boston at the time, met him when they were on the same bus to New York and it broke down. They became friends and she asked him to look out for me when I moved to the City. When he found out I wanted to sing, he brought me to his studio and let me write a hook and sing on one of their songs. It was like magic being able to create something so tangible like that- and hear my voice like I never had before. Pure magic!
DeFY: Alright, so you return back to Houston from New York where you land a
job at Helios. Its here where you say you fell in love with
songwriting and “dirty rock ‘n’ roll. Eventually you get noticed by a
supporter whom helps you move to L.A. and record with former members
of Tony! Toni! Tone! Where did you get noticed and how was it working
with Tony! Toni! Tone!?
Emily: After I returned home my goal was to write and record as much as possible and hone my skills. Though I had been writing songs for years prior, if studying musical theater taught me anything, it was that you must know your craft inside and out. And I still had a lot to learn. I studied the bands that were playing at the bar, got up and sang with them whenever I could. During they day I was writing songs and working with a few different producers at their studios- just trying to build my catalog. Through the producers I was working with in Houston, and after I had recorded a lot of songs, I was offered the support to go try my luck in L.A. at Raphael Saadiq’s studio working some of the band’s former members. It was incredible working with those guys. It was the education I was looking for. They taught me so much, are like family to me, and I became a much better songwriter.
DeFY: Are you signed if not has anyone approached you?
Emily: There have been offers here and there, but remaining independent felt like best deal for me in terms of my debut record. I put it out on my own label.
DeFY: How would you best describe your music?
Emily: It’s Rock ‘N Soul with some Girl-Glam Pop.
DeFY: Who did you look up to growing up?
Emily: My sister. She taught me the ropes. And I had a thing for Elvis.
DeFY: Who/what influences your music?
Emily: The paths I’ve crossed in music from New York to Houston to L.A. to Austin. All very different genres, and they all touched me in different ways. I like to tie the thread between them and tell the story in my songs.
DeFY: Whats your top 5 favorite albums of all time?
Emily: That’s a hard question to answer, it’s really about where my head is at currently, so …
Led Zeppelin IV
Rolling Stones Sticky Fingers
Tribe Called Quest The low End Theory
Billie Holiday Live at Carnegie Hall
The Beatles White Album
DeFY: What do you do when your not performing?
Emily: Well, lately I’ve been obsessed with The Sopranos!
DeFY: Haha! Catching up eh? Who would you like to work with in the future?
Emily: I’ve always wanted to work with Mick Jagger. I’d love to work with Danger Mouse, Dan Auerbach, Jack White…I have a long list.
DeFY: The internet is a gift and a curse. On one hand it can widen your fan
base, bring you closer to your fans and ultimately make you a star.
On the other hand, the Internet has made it easier for more artists to
compete and therefor created a sort of ADD when it comes to supporting
artists since the consumer now has an over abundance of options. In
your opinion, how do you maintain your fans interest without appearing
Emily: The most important thing is to be present. There is no one way to break an artist anymore. It’s the wild west. But if I’m not out there in front of people, I’m only doing half the job. It’s all about the work you put in. The internet is a great way to interact with fans- posting new content, promoting a new video or a tour are all ways to stay present in the digital world. This all takes work on my end before it even hits the web. In my opinion, touring is one of the most important tools an artist has. Everything is filtered through the internet now- so you might be on tour and have a great show in Denver, get a great write up and you just possibly opened up a new market for your music. You’ve got to be present to win. And give love where you are getting love.
DeFY: DeFY New York is a footwear dominated site so we ask all artists whats
your favorite pair of sneakers and why?
Emily: I’m definitely more of a platform and boots kind of gal. I don’t go anywhere without my vintage knee high Fry boots! But when I wear sneakers, I wear my converse!
DeFY: What do you have lined up for the rest of 2013?
Emily: We are back on tour in October! Playing CMJ in New York, and hitting a lot of different places between Nashville and NY. We are releasing our second music video at the same time. I can’t wait for people to see it. And I’m also spending time writing a lot of new songs with different people.
DeFY: Where can everyone go to follow all things Emily Bell?
Emily: You can visit my site emilybell.com and follow me on Facebook at
Make sure and check out Emily’s latest video below!