“I’m actually a pretty happy person most of the time and the few sad moments are what I use to create my music,” shares Bella Stine, offering a glimpse into the soul behind the voice.
Navigating the labyrinth of teenage emotions and experiences, she tells stories that seem to cradle the listener’s heart with a gentle, yet firm understanding of varied emotional landscapes. This unfiltered self-reflection is subtly expressed throughout her debut EP, “i know you’re awake,” an authentic journey through the corridors of affection, neglect, and self-awareness, where even in its snappiest moments with tracks like “wasted potential,” a subtle melancholy lingers, transitioning smoothly to the serene ambiance of “pale flame.”
In our interview, we sat down with the young Californian based talent to discuss vulnerability in songwriting, navigating the pressures of the music industry, and her aspirations for future collaborations.
photography by Ivanna Jackson
“i know you’re awake“ indicates a sense of awareness and presence. Can you share the story or experience that inspired the title of your debut EP?
The title comes from the opening line of my personal favorite, Click or Crash. It simply summarizes the neglect that causes confusion which inspired the title and the songs. I always ignored and knew that I wasn’t a priority, so that statement is me stating my awareness. It also explores various emotional stages of letting go.
What was the most challenging song to write and why?
The most challenging song was “Amputate”. That is the newest song I’m releasing, and it was out of my comfort zone for several reasons, including the style of the song, the emotional state I was in while writing it, and the meaning of the song, which was letting go. All of the other songs were more so about lamenting over a person and situation and not really being over and strong enough to finalize things. “Amputate” was all about taking matters into your own hands and ending things, which was something that was hard for me to do when it came to keeping someone in my life. (I did eventually do so though!)
Your lyrics come from a place of vulnerability. How do you find the balance between sharing your personal experiences and maintaining your privacy?
I try to be descriptive enough so that people understand circumstances and can relate if they’ve been through something similar, but obviously, people can’t 100% confirm who a song is about if I don’t say who. I still want as much detail as possible so I’ll just keep anything in a song except names if I see fit.
“I write for myself during the creation process, but once it’s out, it’s for whoever wants to listen.”
Can you tell us a little about your songwriting process? How do you decide which ventures turn into songs?
I’ve attempted to write several songs and scrap a lot of them after a verse and chorus because I sometimes just play it back and go “wait, that’s gross”. I always eventually just choose to continue finishing and sharing the ones that I think lyrically convey my feelings best. The ones that I truly connect with and feel that others will too.
How do you navigate through the pressure and expectations that come with being a young artist in the industry?
I just have to accept that not everyone has to like what I write and put out there and that it’s completely fine. I write for myself during the creation process, but once it’s out, it’s for whoever wants to listen. Even if that is one person, that’s enough. My goal isn’t to be some global sensation pop star type. I just want to be able to connect with people who love music.
And how do you seize the joys and freedoms that come with being a young artist today?
I love being able to attempt new things lyrically and style-wise with my music while still wanting, of course, to remain cohesive to my true nature, but I like that I can branch out and don’t have to be confined.
Your hope is that listeners find comfort in your songs. Have you received any feedback or stories from fans that have particularly moved you?
A lot of people who listen loved the style of “Wasted Potential” probably the most. I get why because of the upbeat and style of it. But also people loved the video for “Pale Flame” and how gut-wrenching “Click or Crash” is.
“I’m actually a pretty happy person most of the time and the few sad moments are what I use to create my music.”
Your ‘my playground’ photo on Instagram showcases a delightful array of instruments. Can you share which instruments you’ve learned to play?
I’m really not fantastic at playing instruments but I’m good enough to where I can write with my keyboard. I also have played the ukulele for several years and I can somewhat play the guitar (at least chords, laughs).
What’s one thing you’d like your fans to know about you that they might not be aware of?
I want fans to know that although my songs are pretty sad (and I love sad music personally), I’m actually a pretty happy person most of the time and the few sad moments are what I use to create my music.
Are there any artists you dream of collaborating with in the future?
I would love to work with Chance Peña, Gracie Abrams, Tiny Habits, or D4vd.
What does a typical day in Bella Stine’s life look like when she’s not working on her music?
I go to school. I’m a junior in high school and I’m just trying to keep up with AP classes and trying to be better at golf because I’m on the team. I also love doing theatre. That’s been my musical and performance foundation since I was little.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?
I hope I’m still doing music and releasing in the next 5 to 10 years! I want to go to college and have an education along with the social aspect because I’m very extroverted.