Heaps Decent is an Australian organisation empowering young people through skills building, cultural access and creativity. 

Working with underrepresented and marginalised youth, our participatory program of music and visual media activities provides a pathway to discovery, personal growth and agency through self-expression. 
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Spotlight On: That Gurl Bella

November 16, 2022

Heaps Decent is thrilled to introduce our second feature artist of the year, That Gurl Bella. HD writer Amy recently chatted to the up-and-comer about her role models, her future in the music industry and her process of songwriting at such a young age.

“I’m Bella, or That Gurl Bella – and Gurl is with a U. I am a singer, rapper and a songwriter and I’m 15 from the Inner West of Sydney,”

Bella has a voice that can be described as both angelic and a force to be reckoned with. She has a vocal range and technique far beyond her years, both singing and rapping. At the time of writing, she has released four demos and written over 40 more – all while competing Year 10. 

“This is something that between school and working at a hair salon and a bakery, I put all my time into. When I get home from work, I work on my music from around 7pm to midnight. I know it’s not good to stay up that late! But I work on singing and recording most nights and in the mornings when I have to stay quiet while my family are asleep, that’s when I’ll do some actual lyric and songwriting.”

Bella’s musical interest started at a very young age, with her influences stemming from what she heard around the house.

“I would say my main vocal influence is Rihanna, my mum always used to play her music when I was a kid, so she’s a voice that I heard all the time. More recently, Doja Cat and Lauren Hill both massively impact my sound. I love that they both rap and sing, they just mix between the two so effortlessly.”

The catchy hook in Bella’s most recent demo ‘Who You Gonna Call’ is extremely reminiscent of this early 2010’s RnB sound that established Rihanna as a big player in the music scene. One can see Bella refreshing this genre with her distinct voice and more modern influences such as Doja Cat. The delivery of the verses on this single and her others are all incredibly annunciated and written, showing big potential to be up in the big leagues like those who have come before her.

Though Bella wants to set herself apart from these women. On her lyrical content and aesthetic she says, “I want to write to relate more to the young girls in Australia. Because of the artists we listen to, so much music in this genre is so Americanised. We don’t really have songs or artists doing RnB that speak to the experiences of girls who live here.” 

Before working with Heaps Decent, Bella had not recorded in a real studio, doing all her demos from home. 

“I remember the date – May 30th this year. I booked in advance to go to Homebase with Adam [Bozzetto], because they’re always booked out. I remember thinking ‘Okay, you only have an hour, make sure you don’t waste it!’”

That first session led to the release of Bella’s first demo called ‘Don’t Hit Send’, which was featured on multiple music platforms.

“Adam was so great, he said to me ‘this is really good, you should upload this on Unearthed.’ So I did and it got featured on Triple J unearthed and FBi radio. I never would have imagined that the first track I made would get attention like that. I’m so thankful to Heaps Decent because the people that are a part of it are so kind and they genuinely want to give back and help people like me get a start in music. I couldn’t afford a lot of expenses like studio time at real studios and recording equipment. I never thought I’d get a chance in a real studio, so my experience with Heaps Decent has just been amazing. And I’m doing singing lessons there now too which are just incredible.”

Being only 15, Bella was hesitant to provide advice to other artists, but shared her vision and her inspiration for her own path in music.

“Before these sessions I never saw an actual pathway to music being my career. But recently it’s becoming more clear to me that it can actually be a job. I’m still very early into this but I would say what guides me is belief and action. Before I ever recorded I was full of that belief, daydreaming about recording and doing all these amazing things with my music, but I wasn’t acting on any of it. Action is so important because it’s from doing all the work that you actually see results. So now I’m just action all the time.”

Bella has big plans for her future in music, she currently releases demos every other month and is developing a live set for her songs. 

“My goal for my music is to have it be a career in some form, and to get played on triple J on the radio one day – I think that could be amazing.”

With an enviable work ethic and increasing talent with every song released, it is clear that That Gurl Bella is absolutely one to watch.

You can keep up with her music here: https://www.thatgurlbella.com/

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