Kansas City-based singer-songwriter Jaclyn Bell described her music as a cross between Kelsea Ballerini, Paramore and Chvrches, a sound she's been cultivating since she was 17. Her debut album, Wanna Be Mine, is a well-produced showcase for a voice that seems tailor-made for big audiences. We are fortunate to share an interview with Bell about her new album, her writing process and what's ahead.
Please introduce yourself. Describe your music for new listeners.
My name is Jaclyn Bell. I’m a local Kansas City singer-songwriter. My music is a blend between a lot of different sounds. Hints of Kelsea Ballerini, Paramore, and Chvrches. My music is relatable to people going through every type of relationship, I try my best to capture the moments of circumstances that people go through on a day-to-day basis and put them in my songs.
Tell us about your upcoming album, Wanna Be Mine. How long has this been in the works? What songs are you most proud of and why?
I’ve been working on it for about three years and I recorded here in Kansas City with some great local musicians and producers. The songs I would say I’m most proud of on the album are "Wanna Be Mine", "Killing All of You", and "Young and Free". "Wanna Be Mine" because it’s one of my most melodic songs. It’s really raw honesty when you put yourself out there in front of someone and tell them what you want.
Killing All of You is one of my favorites because it’s about watching one of your friends go through a really hard time in their life and wondering why they didn’t tell you about it. It’s a different approach on songwriting. Whether it’s about neglect or abuse I think a lot of people can relate to it because we all either know people or have been through some hard situations where the relationship is life draining.
Young and Free is a song that I wrote when I moved away for a brief time to a city that only had a few of my family members, but I had no friends. Instead of going out on the weekends like i usually would, I stayed in my room writing songs. When I wrote this song it was about learning from your mistakes, having fun and being in the moment, regardless of consequences and just being yourself.
How long have you been a songwriter? Who were some of your earliest musical influences?
I’ve been a songwriter since I was about 17. But the past five years I’ve been really writing loads of songs and making it a career, [studying how] Taylor Swift [and] Ed Sheeran write and compose [their] music. Some of my earliest musical influences were Taylor Swift, Colbie Caillat, and Paramore.
Describe your creative process. How often are you writing songs? Are you a heavy editor of your music or do songs come easily?
For my songwriting process it's a bit different. It’s like I catch a writing bug I could go months without writing songs and then once I feel inspired, I could write seven songs in three days. With editing, each song is different. Some songs I write once and don’t change anything about it. Others [...] take four or five different editing sessions to get it perfect. Each song is a different art piece so doing it all the same doesn’t really make sense to me. I think that each one deserves its own unique attention and style.
What music are you currently raving about?
Kelsea Ballerini and Chvrches. Kelsea Ballerini I really like how she has a fun twist on her country music [and] pop. She’s relatable, and her unique songwriting and voice really connect with her audience. I also really have been into Halsey recently. She’s really raw in her songs and she really makes you experience her music. I just put her entire artist page on play and listen to it.
What’s ahead for you in 2019?
2019 is the year that I put out my first album Wanna Be Mine and is officially the kickoff of my music journey and my career in making this what I do. I have a really good team and we have a bunch of stuff planned this year with a few media releases, a few singles that are already in the works, and obviously I’m still writing for my next album because the goal is to keep this going. We have some plans for getting my music out there for people to hear so I’m really excited!
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. The Hobbit really inspired me as a child because it shows how a small person can set out to change the world. That no matter how big or small, you can be pushed and push yourself to accomplish great things. This was always something that I try to do with my music, is influence people and bring a smile or a good tune to as many people as I can.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury shows how important it is to expand your interests and make sure you have an open view. Back in that time, books were the mass media. Now we have so many diverse ways of actually exposing ourselves to new thoughts and new ideas.
Reputation by Taylor Swift is definitely another recommendation because it talks about how when your reputation gets altered, you can present your side instead of bringing others down. It’s not her typical relationship album with break up songs, even though those are good too!
I really enjoy the Amy Winehouse Back to Black album. It’s really raw and she sells the story of every one of her songs.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I & II. I like these two movies because they show strong friendship connections throughout the years. Even when Harry is about to confront evil in the face, and he knows he’s going to die, his friends are willing to go with him and it shows how much they love each other even up to the point of death.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. It shows freedom. Yes, there’s bad pirates, but also there’s good ones who just want to be free. It was something that always allured me about the entire series is that these guys aren’t bound by anything or anyone except themselves. It also shows people with the freedom to travel wherever they want. I really like travelling and it was something that captured my imagination as a kid.