Daughter of C'ville releases sophomore album
After spending six years studying theater at New York University, Charlottesville's prodigal daughter of folk pop has returned to the local scene in full force. Born in Australia and raised in Charlottesville, Mariana Bell has since created her own niche of folk in Charlottesville's varied and dynamic music scene.
After releasing her first full-length album, Dream of Italy in 2003, Bell presents Charlottesville with her sophomore release, Book. Already praised by local music gurus as the work of an up-and-coming star, Book presents audiences with a new phase in Bell's musical development.
The Hook: How is it being a singer-songwriter in a smaller town?
Mariana Bell: I'm lucky in the sense that I did grow up here and I do know a lot of people, but you still have to start at the bottom, you still have to pay your dues, and there's an entire music community that was growing and burgeoning here when I was gone. It is such a community feel–- while it can be cliquey, like any small town, it can be really supportive when you have paid your dues.
Hook: Have you found a niche for your music?
Bell: It's still tough, it's always hard, especially as a female singer-songwriter. Dudes have this dude band thing, and they're all bros... I'm a chick and it's hard to get people to go out to your shows. Do I have a niche? Yeah, I feel like I'm beginning to be appreciated, which is nice. But it's always a struggle.
Hook: How do you think you've grown from Dream of Italy to Book?
Bell: What I've been getting from people who've known my music for the past ten years is that this is a departure, it is more mature. I've always felt that I'm a folk singer and that's my thing and I write songs that are like this, but now it's more like the record has different distinct things– one that's more folky and one that's more modern, Radiohead-y and one that's quirky and weird. So I'm just not afraid to put in all genres–- whatever comes to me, that's my genre. Which makes it hard to define what the record is cause there's different stuff on there.
Hook: How does your experience on the stage play into your songwriting and your performing?
Bell: I'm certainly a whore for attention. I love it. That's why I was in theater–- I was in choir from the get-go, and I did theater in high school, I went to school for theater. I just love it and I'm very comfortable on stage. The theater really helped me 'mean what you say and say what you mean.' If you can actually get that across to an audience, that's invaluable. I would say too with theater experience, you're taught that when you're performing, you're at work. You're trying to give something to people.
Hook: So what can we expect from this release party?
Bell: Hopefully a really cool interpretation of the record. It's going to be pretty true to the record, we're going to play every song on there. A couple of little special guests.
Hook: What's the most compelling reason for our readers to buy a copy of your album? Give us your best possible sales pitch.
Bell: BLAH BLAH BLAH, yadda yadda. Giggle.
Hook: What's next, what's coming up?
Bell: Well, I'm in FloydFest, so I'm pumped about that–- so getting the band ready for that and then hopefully just booking some more shows regionally. We're doing another release in New York, and then I'm going to Australia for Christmas. So until the New Year, it's the CD release.
Mariana Bell's release party for Book is Saturday, 12/6 at Is. Show starts at 9:30 pm. $5-8.