Headliner and JBL bring emerging star Bella Moulden to the big stage at JBL Fest

As part of JBL and Headliner’s ongoing Emerging Headliner initiative to champion standout up-and-coming artists who are making waves in the industry, singer-songwriter and multi instrumentalist Bella Moulden was selected to perform at JBL Fest, which returned in 2022 for its biggest, most electrifying event yet.

Hosted by Bebe Rexha, the three-day festival-style experience breaks the mould for what one expects from a brand activation, bringing together a plethora of unique events at the intersection of music, gaming and sports.

Grammy Award winner and JBL ambassador Doja Cat headlined the festival with a performance at JBL Live!, featuring JBL’s newest global ambassador, The Kid LAROI, while platinum-selling DJ/producer Martin Garrix brought the festival to a close.

The goal of the ongoing Emerging Headliner initiative powered by JBL is to spotlight exciting new talent and to provide them with innovative opportunities to showcase their music at events including JBL Fest and NAMM, the latter which saw carefully selected artists headline the prominent JBL truck for a series of intimate performances – surrounded by the crème de la crème of the music and audio industries.

“The opportunity for an emerging artist to perform at JBL Fest is priceless; this year was the first time we were able to schedule an opening slot for our emerging artist program and it provided an experience that can’t be replicated for an artist anywhere else or with any other brand,” said Frank Joseph, senior director marketing north America, Professional Solutions, Harman International.

“The JBL and Headliner teams, along with Bella’s management worked tenaciously for several months on the details, timing and execution to create a unique and authentic activation for our guests. It was a thrill for us to see it come to fruition and we look forward to continuing the momentum.

“We hosted a global audience at JBL Fest including customers, end-users and influencers, therefore it provided an opportunity to be seen and heard by a highly engaged global audience in a controlled environment powered by JBL sound,” he furthered on the JBL Fest concept.

“We worked with Bella at NAMM earlier this year through our partnership with Headliner magazine, and we were all inspired by her music, professionalism and gratitude,” he enthused.

“Bella was the only emerging artist selected to perform at JBL Fest and that alone made her performance unique before she even stepped foot on stage. Once she was on stage, she did a fantastic job and the audience loved her!”

Joseph elaborated on the key reasons JBL is keen to support up and coming talent: “Emerging artists and producers are the fuel for industry growth and new music; they are showcasing interesting and innovative ways of creating and promoting their content at a global level from a local perspective. At Harman, we want to help create a path for artists and producers to develop their sound, experience the unimaginable, and be their best.

Headliner has been a great partner,” he concluded. “The entire team has been a breath of fresh air for us as they think differently than most media partners. They have been instrumental in helping us bring some of our ideas to life, especially the Emerging Headliner concept.”

"With a household name such as JBL, the opportunity to collaborate and build profiles for new, emerging talents is a brilliant way to give these artists exposure to a larger audience," commented Rian Zoll-Khan, Headliner chief operating officer.

"Brand alignment at this level is a welcome addition for some of the biggest artists in the world, so for Bella Moulden, this was a huge credit to her work as an artist and a co-sign for where she is headed. 

"Activations put together by Headliner and JBL for emerging talent provide the opportunity to showcase a wide variety of talent across multiple genres of music and with Bella, we found a new emerging talent who really stepped up and grasped this. Our Emerging Headliner programme is an initiative created for artists to showcase themselves not just musically, but also from an in-depth personal point of view where we delve into their own unique journey." 

Moulden – whose fans include Juliette Lewis and Sharon Osbourne – was chosen by JBL and Headliner to support Bebe Rexha at JBL Fest, bringing along her iconic double neck guitar and loop pedal station that have seen her turn into a TikTok and Instagram sensation. The Self Care singer reflects on performing at JBL Fest, winning over the crowd, and on being recognised in public.

It felt comfortable; It felt like I belonged there.

Congratulations on your JBL Fest performance! How was it?

It was so much fun! I’d love to do something like that again soon. The people in the audience – I wouldn't say were fans, because no one knew who I was at first – but the audience were really sweet. 

People came up to me and took pictures with me; they were so kind. I had a really good time just being on stage. It felt comfortable. It felt like I belonged there. I love the people from JBL as well; I still talk to some of them every day just because they're amazing human beings and they really make you feel at home. All around, it was just a great experience.

How did it feel to support established artist Bebe Rexha, and did you feel you won the crowd round during your set?

It was so cool and such a fun experience. I'm honoured because she picked me to open for her. It really means a lot to me. At first no one was where the stage was, but right when I started playing, I could see a swarm of people coming in that were actually digging my sound. 

I thought that was really cool, because no one was paying attention at first – they were just chatting amongst themselves. Then I saw a whole bunch of people with their phones out recording me. I was like, “This is crazy!” It was really cool. I guess I did win them over!

How did you feel when you came offstage?

I honestly wanted to do it all over again. It was so much fun and I was happy with my performance. If I could do something like that again I definitely would. I know JBL has some things in the works for me, so hopefully there'll be something like that for me to do again…

It's really surreal to have people who know you from TikTok or Instagram.

What were your expectations of JBL Fest being that it’s not a typical gig or music festival, but also a much cooler than average ‘corporate-style’ experience?

Honestly, it was exactly as I predicted it, in a good way. I knew that there were gonna be influencers there and that it would also be a fun Gen Z-friendly thing. It was really cool. It was at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, which is huge

There were different games for people to try out, a selfie area, a separate room completely opposite to where I had to perform – it's a whole maze of different levels!

Downstairs there was a games area, there was an influencer lounge where you could get temporary tattoos, merch, take pictures, there's mini golf – loads of different things going on. The stage room is kind of like a lounge. There was a bar and a bartender, and all the way at the back there was an open area where you could sit on the balcony. The stage was really cool too.

Which songs did you choose for your set?

I did Oblivion, Sweet Dreams (which I used the loop pedal for), and Season Of The Witch – my original song. I really like Sweet Dreams, and I thought Oblivion would be a cool interpretation of the original. I just like the song; it's really cool to play around with. There's a lot of things you can do on the loop station with the synthesiser, and I felt the same about Sweet Dreams.

For Season Of The Witch, I was like, “Well, this is fall-ish time, so it's time to bring out the song”. I thought it would be cool to use my regular neck guitar for that so I played it to a backing track. 

I didn’t want to play the double neck guitar for the whole show, plus Season Of The Witch couldn't be looped, so I was like, “I'm gonna have to figure out how to do this because I have to play this all by myself”. So I just did a track for the first time, which was fun.

JBL Fest is the best sound quality performance I've ever had.

How different is it to go from your bedroom making short videos and doing multiple takes using your double neck guitar and loop pedal, compared to doing a live loop performance on stage?

Oh it's a pain in the ass focusing on multiple things at once [laughs]. I’m concentrating on my vocals, making sure the loops are on time, switching between the bass and the guitar and then trying to get to the synth on time. All of that going on while also trying to look good is a lot of work!

I actually messed up at JBL Fest, but you’ve just gotta play it off. No one would have noticed, but to me it was a mess up because I practised these songs every single day. I had a strategy, like, “I'm gonna play the solos like this, I'm gonna hit this pedal at this time”. But no one would have noticed but me.

How was the sound at JBL Fest when you were on stage?

Out of all the live performances I've done, that's probably the best sound quality performance I've ever had. I remember performing at a different event and the audio was terrible. It was not good, and I was really upset about that, but this was phenomenal. I was also able to hear myself through the monitors – everything just sounded really nice.

Since being noticed by Juliet Lewis on Instagram and then recording in a professional studio, performing at NAMM on the JBL truck to this, how has your life changed?

In North Carolina where I live, no one really knows who the hell I am. It's weird that on a national scale people know me, like I will go to New York City or L.A and people recognise me. Back home it's nice because nothing feels like it's changed, but when I go elsewhere that’s where I feel the change. 

It's really surreal to have people who know you from TikTok or Instagram that go, “You're that girl that sings and plays that guitar!” Or, “You're that girl who did that song Self Care!” 

And I'm like, “How the hell do you know me?” Like it’s some top secret thing that no one knows [laughs]. That's my reaction, every time.