Interview: Singer/Songwriter Lara Bell Hits All the Right Notes

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MCHENRY, ILL. – The venue D.C. Cobbs (Woodstock, Illinois) was the location for an acoustic set by 23-year-old Lara Bell, an up and coming singer/songwriter who has been performing professionally since she was 15 years old. Her rich and sultry voice, embodying a wide range of genres, was complimented by an enthralling stage presence.

Lara has been in the studio recording her original music with engineer Ken Pedraza for three years, as well as editing and producing music videos for her social media and website (click here). On the site are her four professionally recorded songs, with videos available on her YouTube channel, (click here). Her strong following includes almost a million-and-a-half views of her musical performances on that channel.

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Singer/Songwriter Lara Bell
Photo credit: Jeff Doles for HollywoodChicago.com

Jeff Doles of HollywoodChicago.com was at D.C. Cobbs and got an opportunity to sit down with Lara Bell and ask questions about her past accomplishments and future goals.

HollywoodChicago.com: How does your classical piano training affect your guitar playing and musical performance?

Lara Bell: At a young age, I was taught how to both read music and understand music theory. I was always singing, and I remember being able to keep a perfect pitch in my theatre classes at age eight because of my training. Piano lessons are the best thing any parent can do for an aspiring performer. I continued to take lessons throughout college, and the discipline and studying really paid off. I learned guitar when I was 14, and I think it was easier for me to pick it up because of my prior music knowledge, than if I had approached it without any experience.

HollywoodChicago.com: What inspires your creative expression, and how does that expression play into your lyric writing?

Lara: I like to sit down at the piano or with my guitar and start playing a chord pattern. Once I find one I like, I start singing how I feel. If I have an idea or a story for a song in my head, I will channel my emotions toward that type of song, and I will sing phrases over and over again with different options until something clicks. Most of my best songs are written in minutes when they come straight from the heart. Writing has always been my therapy and way of expressing myself.

I often find myself writing about the things that hurt me more than the things that make me happy … because when I am happy I like to live in the moment of pure bliss. But sadness sometimes lasts longer, so what do I do if I need to get my feelings out but cannot express them? I put them into song, as most artists and writers do. Music is my escape, and I find peace in being able to know that other people can relate with what I sing or write about. It is how I feel when I listen to music and read poetry myself. The beauty comes from the pain we all experience in our lifelong journeys.

So overall, I don’t really have a specific writing process. I just sit with my instrument and sing what comes to mind. I have been using voice memos lately in case I forget a line or two I like, which happens a bit. Ha! Technology to the rescue!

HollywoodChicago.com: Let’s talk about a specific song, ‘What If’ (click). What are the origins of the song and its roots?

Lara:  I always have to share this story every time someone asks about ‘What If,’ because the song is special to me has a lot of potential, and I love performing it. I’ve been told that the chorus has a catchy lick and fans have told me it gets stuck in their heads. ‘What If’ was the first song I wrote that I ever shared with anybody, ever, when I was nearly 17 years old. While I started writing at 14, I was always too afraid to share my music … for some reason, this song became the first one, and I started to share more thereafter. During this time, I was applying to colleges for musical theatre and music scholarships. I decided to record a professional music video for this song and submit it to a competition for a school in Santa Fe in New Mexico.

I recorded all the vocal and guitar parts, my Dad helped me shoot the video, and I edited it all together. I ended up winning the scholarship, which involved Robert Redford and his Milago Institute. I did not end up going to the college, but there is a chance Mr. Redford saw my video, and I think that is pretty darn cool. I mean, he is a legend and I admire his work very much.

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The Sunny Stage Presence of Lara Bell
Photo credit: Jeff Doles for HollywoodChicago.com

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