Wonderland.

NEW NOISE: BELLA CALYPSO

The London-based artist unveils her brand new single beside a spellbinding visual, filmed by her cousin during lockdown.

Photography by Faysal Hassan

Photography by Faysal Hassan

While many of us were baking banana bread and spending hours on end scrolling through TikTok during the lockdown, Bella Calypso spent some one-on-one time with her creativity, producing her enchanting new single, “Haunted” in the process. Opening on a plush bed of sparkling synths, the track builds a feeling reminiscent of a typical love scene from a sunny rom-com. But as Bella starts to spill her sultry vocals, we soon realise that the song is far from romantic as it sings of an ex-lover “Haunted” by the absence of the artist.

Totally empowered and unapologetically confident, the artist sings, “You see me everywhere you go. And I know how much you want it, I don’t blame you at all.” Driving home the contrast between the two exes, the visual shows the artist dancing along to her own tune, while her lover remains stagnant — unable to compute the loss of her.

Having partnered with her filmmaker cousin and fashion designer friend to complete the project, Bella’s cousin explains, “We wanted to create a story that people could relate to, and to convey the monotony of being trapped in an emotionally destructive cycle.”

In light of the release, we spoke with Bella about the inspiration behind the project, the process of creating the visual and cover art and what she’s planning next.

To view the video and for the full interview, head below…

Hey Bella! How are you doing?
Hey! I’m doing great thanks! I’ve just dyed my hair blonde and preparing for a well needed holiday to Sri Lanka! The last few months I’ve been trying new things and getting involved in lots of new projects so has been pretty hectic but definitely rewarding, feels like things are heading in an interesting direction!

How did you first get into music? What sparked the interest?
From a very young age, I was always getting involved in some form of singing, acting, or dancing, anything to do with performing and doing something creative. I think I was in my first professional show when I was six! Anyway, my passion for music was always there, I would always have my headphones in since I bought my first Walkman, carrying around a pack of CDs. That wasn’t for long as iPods were released etc., but I’ve always been tuned in. Music was the way I was able to understand myself and the world around me. Anyway, it was only when I went to uni in London that I got into the music scene myself. I first started writing with my cousin Lawrence in his studio and then started meeting people all over London. It took a few years to find my voice and sound, but it’s been an incredible journey!

Who would you say is your biggest inspiration?
I actually think Dolly Parton is so inspiring. She made so many power moves and reclaimed her own agency in a male-dominated industry. She knew what she wanted and she went out and got it, not to mention she’s an incredible songwriter! I also love Jhene Aiko’s music, her use of storytelling and healing music speaks to my soul. I listen to her even when I don’t want to listen to music if that makes sense!

What is your favourite thing about what you do?
I love the element of collaboration and meeting new people. I love the energy of having a bunch of people from different backgrounds and with different stories in one room, creating something with a shared passion. If you write a song, make a video, or create something original then no one can take that away from you, regardless of what people think of the end product.

And congratulations on the release of your new single, “Haunted”! What was going through your mind when you wrote it?
Thank you. I wrote and recorded this song in the studio with my friend and collaborator PaPa Shiraz. Shiraz played a beat that had this eery guitar sound and that’s when we came up with the idea of being Haunted by something. We were both talking about past breakups and thought it would be a cool idea to sing from the perspective of a character in a position of power, fantasizing or even knowing that their ex is regretting the split and haunted by their memory. So yeah I guess I wanted to have a bit of fun with my experience of a breakup.

And how did you come up with the concept for the music video? Or did you already know what it would look like before writing the song?
My filmmaker and director cousin Milo Sharpe thought we should collaborate on a project, so the “Haunted” video was the perfect opportunity. We sat down and brainstormed ideas with the aim of creating a story that people could relate to. I liked the idea of someone else being the feature of the video, so we put the “ex” as the focus of the storyline, going about his day being “Haunted” by the memory of me. We essentially wanted to convey the monotony of being trapped in an emotionally destructive cycle against an eerie London backdrop. We then researched locations and started from there. We agreed that to execute the complexity of an ethereal female phantom with the harsh modernity of a 21st-century backdrop, style and fashion would be key. Therefore, we brought in my good friend, British Fashion Council scholar Rhiannon Davies to do the styling for the video which added another incredible layer to the project. For one of my outfits (a simple white shirt with a black overtop) for example, Rhiannon drew upon inspiration from Arthur Miller’s classic The Crucible, a nod to the ethereal and supernatural atmosphere Milo constructs in many scenes of the music video. Rhiannon noted that she and I “both recognise the strength of femininity” and the combination of Rhiannon’s designs and my lyrical expression is a testimony to the power women hold in themselves and the variety of ways in which they can express this.

What do you hope people will take away from the overall project?
I want them to feel “Haunted”! Haha… no really! I want people to be able to relate to the scenario, whether you’re taking on the role of the phantom, fantasizing about your ex being haunted by their memories of you, or understanding the feeling like maybe you were the one who messed up and it’s hard to move on from that when you think of your past lover every day. On another level, I want people to understand the marriage between both femininity and strength and how this is portrayed through the phantom character in the video.

Does “Haunted” feel different in any way compared to your previous work?
Absolutely. This is definitely the biggest project I have ever done surrounding one song, and it also got me out of my comfort zone. Bringing in elements of creative direction, filmmaking and fashion with Milo and Rhiannon was amazing and is also something I have never incorporated before in my music. For my cover art, I also dressed as the “Magician” tarot card, adding to the otherworldly nature of the song and its visuals but also adding a note of hope — in tarot, the Magician card represents tapping into one’s full potential, hinting at the transformation and strength that can be found after a breakup. I loved adding more dimensions of meaning to the music and lyrics by putting thought into other creative outlets and expressions. It has definitely inspired me to pursue similar projects in the future. Also Haunted is my favourite song I have released to date!

Are there any themes you have yet to explore in your music?
Yes, so many! The last few songs I released were relationship-oriented, which is fun, but definitely not the only thing that inspires me. I would love to create feel-good music to feed the mind and soul, so you can just feel relaxed and happy. Sorry if that sounds cheesy! Lol! I also want to experiment with different frequencies and instruments more. Let’s see…

What’s next for you? Are you working on anything else exciting for 2022?
I am definitely going to start experimenting with my sound more this year and push the boundaries of what sort of music I want to make. I am not putting pressure on myself, just want to keep creating and seeing what I come up with. I am also continuing with acting training on the weekends and got to get involved in some cool projects already. I’ve branched into a bit of writing and had my short film shown at The Unseen Film Festival at Soho House which was cool!

And finally, if you were not doing music, what do you think you would be doing?
If I wasn’t doing music, or something to do with performing, like dance, acting, sport etc., then maybe I would run an animal sanctuary or something along those lines. I am a vegetarian and love caring for animals – I applied to work at a zoo once then declined when I realised you had to get up super early every day! I’m kidding, maybe I wouldn’t do that full time, I was also involved as an ambassador for Code First Girls, which encourages women to get into the field of computer coding and technology. So perhaps something similar to this! I feel like if you are passionate about something you can always find time!

Photography by Faysal Hassan
NEW NOISE: BELLA CALYPSO

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