Your Daily Guide to St. Louis Arts & Entertainment

Thursday, February 28, 2013 / 12:09 PM

Talking to Heather Buckley-wilson of B.E.L.L.A. About This Weekend's Gina Gala

Talking to Heather Buckley-wilson of B.E.L.L.A. About This Weekend's Gina Gala

Courtesy of Heather Buckley-wilson

Gina Gala takes place this Saturday, March 2 at 2720 Cherokee. Dubbed “a celebration of women in the arts,” various artistic disciplines will be represented, though the musical portion of the evening, which begins at 8 p.m. Performers will include Lauren Zehara, Letter to Memphis, Blue Fruit Snacks, Lauren Haas, and B.E.L.L.A., founded by songwriter Heather Buckley-wilson. Proceeds will be split among a variety of causes, including Growing American Youth and Vona’s Angels.

Buckley-wilson started the event to network with and showcase other female-fronted acts in St. Louis. To some degree that type of get-together was born of necessity. Though able to go out and find new music on occasion, much of time is spent at home with husband Zach and the couple's four young children. Bringing a musical act into that mix has obviously been an interesting and challenging addition to her life, but one that’s also shifted her creative attentions away from dance.

On her birthday earlier this week, the South City-residing Buckley-wilson responded to a handful of questions, regarding both her band and this weekend’s event.

For those unfamiliar, can you give some basic descriptions of your music and your collaborators?

B.E.L.L.A. is made up of Derrick Richard and I. I’ll give him some weird abstract picture to describe the mood and he make my audible picture into a reality. We call it “quip”: quirky indie pop. Sometimes it’s blues rock, sometimes it’s bright-colored pop, add a little dubstep and really honest lyrics and you have B.E.L.L.A. We like to think of our music as a mix of Blondie and Tracy Chapman; although Derrick’s NIN man-crush surfaces every now and again. B.E.L.L.A’s music is relatively upbeat. That’s our music in a nutshell.

Talk a bit, if you would, about the creation of your music. For instance, how it begins, in terms of what instruments and when lyrics come into the picture?

Okay, get ready for a TMI. It usually starts in the shower. Sometimes it feels like I'm in my own dream sequence: raging rock guitars, soaring choirs, bright lights, strings for a touch of drama. That’s how it starts. I get the melody, and music... words are always fuzzy, but still there. I always have to go back, and fill in the blanks, but if it was too easy everyone would do it, right?

Launching a music career can be tough enough. How do you balance your music with a busy home life?

You marry a Wilson man! When I'm writing, or recording, or rehearsing and the kids need something, he really picks up my slack. Short of adequate ponytail making, we'd be lost without my husband. It’s overwhelming because we have a small tribe, but we do what we have to do to get where we want to be.

How did this weekend's festivities come into being? What was the process of lining up the venue and the acts?

Before B.E.L.L.A., I bellydanced. I was used to performing with women, and for women. Switching to gigging with the band, I didn’t meet many women. I said to a friend, at rehearsal, "We should have a show of all women performers." There, the Gina Gala was born. Since I'm really new to the music scene, I relied on a friend of mine, Edgefield C. Johnson. He pointed me in the right direction as well as plain old hooked me up. He introduced me to Devon Cahill of Letter of Memphis.

Have you played with these folks before? If not, what local acts have you shared a stage with in recent times? Even beyond that, who would you enjoy playing with, if given the option?

Recently we played we Edgefield C. Johnson, JR Rudd, Liberation Redux. Allyson from Liberation Redux is also playing the Gina Gala. If I had my choice, far and wide, I would love to play for Alanis Morissette, Citizen Cope, and no matter how random... Marry Me Jane. That’s my musical orgasm!

Any projects in the works beyond live playing? For example, are you recording? How about trying to place music "in the right hands,” etc.?

I am currently writing for an indie label in Seattle. B.E.L.L.A. is in the process of mixing our first album, called Juxtapose. It will drop around the end of April. The label will shop our record with their artists on the west coast. My cousin wrote most of Dawn Richards’ album and some songs on Keisha Coles’ last album. I’m not an R&B girl, but I firmly believe, once done, the music will get to where it needs to be. Look: less than a year ago, I worked at a job I saw no future in. We decided WE are the authors of our destiny and it’s only us to blame if we don’t take control of it.

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