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Emerging

Bella Moulden on Self Care, Double Neck Guitars & Bedroom Production

Singer-songwriter Bella Moulden has caught the internet's attention (picking up fans including Juliette Lewis and Sharon Osbourne along the way) with her fuzzed-up double neck guitar loop videos and a wardrobe that’s straight out of the ‘70s. The Self Care singer reflects on going viral on TikTok, her guitar heroes and delves into her bedroom production setup.

You wrote your song, Self Care about eight months ago, yet it’s just gone viral on TikTok. How did this happen?

I don't know! [laughs] I uploaded it to TikTok Sounds and all of a sudden, it started racking up a bunch of videos. It was really weird. I was like, ‘Are these stats accurate??’ I would keep refreshing the page, and the song reached over 80,000 videos. 

I was like, ‘This is crazy!’ It's definitely my favourite song that I have made, so it made me really happy to see that other people liked it as well.

There's a lot of self care videos using it – actual self care – like skincare routines, meditation videos and stuff like that. I absolutely love it. 

My hope when I uploaded it to TikTok was that maybe people would share their routines and do meditation and show what makes them happy, because that's the whole premise of the song: doing things that you want to do, taking care of yourself and having self love, and obviously, some self care. So it’s super awesome to see.

Where did you write this song, and how did it come together?

I was in my room and just out of nowhere, I came up with this weird thing on the guitar and I was like, ‘Oh, this sounds cool’, and then I just put it in GarageBand, which is what I used at the time. From there, the lyrics sort of happened. 

I wish my writing process was more exciting than that, but it's not [laughs]. Things just come to me out of nowhere; I wish it was more spontaneous than that, but I like it. Everyone's got their methods.

I've done a lot of reflection because I was starting to lose myself over that two year span

With that spontaneity in mind, did you set out to write a song about self care, or did it naturally evolve?

Self care has always been on my mind, I suppose. For the majority of the last few years I've been stuck in the house because of covid, and I've been doing online college and working from home, so it's just me trying to cope with everything. 

I've done a lot of reflection within this time. I was thinking, ‘What are good ways for me to take care of myself?’ because I was starting to lose myself over that two year span. I got home from the grocery store and I went to my bedroom and made music. It wasn't like, ‘Oh, I feel awful today, I'm gonna make this song’. It was just like, ‘I feel awful every day, oh, what a coincidence – I'm making a song’.

You’re known for your double neck guitar loop videos on Instagram and TikTok. Who are your guitar heroes?

My guitar heroes are Prince, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and H.E.R I love her so much. If I met H.E.R I would probably pass out! 

I saw Prince on MTV when I was a kid, and he was just shredding on the guitar, hitting the synthesiser, doing beats and playing simultaneously. I was like, ‘Holy crap, dude, I want to do that’. He was the first major musician that I was introduced to that really inspired me.

A double neck guitar is not an instrument you see every day. When did you start playing this and where did you get the idea?

During quarantine I was experimenting with all sorts of ways of making music. I would have my bass guitar and my electric guitar stacked on top of me, and it would hurt! I couldn't figure out a way to loop it fast enough; I wanted to loop the bass and alternate between the guitar really quickly. 

I wanted it to be fast and on beat when I played. It was really frustrating because I couldn't pick up my bass fast enough and I couldn't pick up my electric guitar fast enough to loop it. I was trying to make videos that were short enough to catch people's attention, because if they're too long, no one's gonna want to watch it. 

I knew I had to loop it quickly or no one's gonna want to continue watching it. So I was like, ‘How am I gonna do this?’ I would do thousands of takes and my back would be killing me – I’d just be crying.

For anyone reading this: do not do that. Do not stack your instruments on top of each other! It is painful. It's not worth it. I looked online and I was wondering if a double neck guitar exists that has a bass and six strings. And lo and behold, Eastwood Guitars was the only one that had one in my price range.

How easy was it to learn the double neck guitar?

I knew how to play bass and electric guitar before, so it was about figuring out how to manoeuvre between the two. The guitar is still pretty heavy for me. It's about 30 pounds, although it's much lighter than what I did before! I just had to get used to the weight and alternating between the two. But everything other than that has been smooth sailing.

I saw Prince on MTV when I was a kid and I was like: Holy crap, dude, I want to do that!

The music industry is a challenging one to crack for an emerging artist. Would you ever consider going on a reality TV music show?

No, because they take your rights away, and there's a high chance that you won't do anything after that. Let's say you make a song for them – that's their song. You can't do anything about it. It's theirs. 

I believe that Howard Stern said something about those shows recently about if you do them, the chances of you actually making it is minimal, and after that your career is practically over. To all the artists out there that are super talented and don't have an outlet: please, whatever you do, don't do those shows.

What’s the story behind your song, Season Of The Witch?

Bette Midler is an icon. I watched Hocus Pocus during Halloween, and I sat on my floor making music until one in the morning just based on watching Bette Midler sing. It’s my second favourite song of mine next to Self Care, but I favour Season Of The Witch more regarding production, because I definitely added more to it. 

Self Care was just bass, drums and guitar, but Season Of The Witch had three different synths, three different drums and three different basses. There's just a whole bunch of stuff that I added to it on a limb and it came out cool.

Are you a self taught bedroom producer?

I am a novice producer, but I am self taught. I'm definitely getting better. I recently purchased Logic, so I've switched over from GarageBand. It's definitely been a bit of a learning curve, for sure. It’s just trial and error.

To all the artists out there that are super talented: please, whatever you do, don't do those reality shows

Brand new to your home studio space are a set of JBL 3 Series Monitors, AKG K240 headphones and an AKG C212 mic. What is your set up?

The monitors go from my digital audio workspace, Logic, to my interface, and then the interface goes to the monitors. The interface has my instruments and whatever I want attached to it, and they go right to the monitors, as well as the digital audio workspace on my laptop. I took them out of the box, plugged them in, and I was like, ‘Okay, let's go!’

What (if any) studio monitors were you using before, and what difference did you notice when using the JBL monitors?

These are my first monitors and they're amazing. I have nothing to compare them to but I absolutely love them, and they sound a lot better than using my MacBook speakers to hear what I'm doing wrong, or what I'm missing! The monitors really helped with that. They’re really easy to work with because these monitors can adapt to your bedroom or whatever environment you're working in.

I had never heard my music that clearly before. It made me realise: Damn, maybe I should go back and fix this a little better!

What is the main thing you’ve noticed about the improvement in sound quality now that you’re using these studio monitors?

Bass. You hear a lot more bass, and that's super important for me, because when I play music, the bass is the biggest part. 

When I record vocals now, I can also hear how high it sounds or how static it could sound, and the background noise – I can hear all of those things through the monitors which I could never hear through the headphones I used previously, or using the amplifier or the Mac speakers. 

They have made life so much easier to help me gather all the intricate pieces in the tracks that I'd missed before. I also noticed how clear the sound was. I had never heard my music that clearly before. It made me realise, ‘Damn, maybe I should go back and fix this a little better!’ So in that sense, it is very beneficial.

Which studio monitor settings have you enjoyed using so far?

The HF Trim as well as the Equaliser switches. I'm obsessed. They're easy to use, because it's not a knob where you can slowly adjust which way you want to go, they just have three switches for each, and they help me put it into place where I want the sound to be.

What are your impressions of the AKG headphones and the C212 mic?

I love these headphones! Previously I used my video game headphones, because I didn't have any other headphones to use! I was like, ‘These headphones are great when I play video games, so perhaps they’ll work when I have to listen and play back my music’. 

But it's much different with these AKGs – it’s much better and much clearer. You can hear everything you need to hear – like with the monitors. If I'm being too loud with the monitors, I'll put the headphones on. And the microphone is fantastic! I love using it; the sound is really clear and crisp.

Check out Bella's performance of Season Of The Witch below: