LIsTeN tO aRTisT inTErVIEw wItH BeTh isBell:
About BeTh isBell
BeTh isBell † Music Bio (2017)
BeTh isBell’s (aka Beth Bell) journey to become the rocker she is today hasn’t - by any means - taken a traditional musician’s path to artistic fruition. Beth, born as a young boy named Bill in Columbus, GA, grew up in the US and Europe through school, college and law school as boy, and then practiced civil rights law for years as a man. After being diagnosed as transgender, Isbell began transitioning and is now, after surgery, a woman. After her transition, she experienced hiring discrimination in returning to law, and at the time, there were no legal protections for trans persons, so she decided to return to college to pursue a new career in music & the arts.
She auditioned and was admitted to prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, but chose instead to attend Oklahoma’s Flaming Lips’ run Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma (ACM@UCO), graduating with the school’s first class of bachelor’s degree candidates in Spring 2013. An accomplished musician with a library of diverse yet equally compelling recordings, Beth’s gift as a songwriter and infectious live performances mix elements of both genders, all while maintaining, at the core, a magical soul and mastery of craft capable of inspiring the hope within all of us to be who you truly are and become our dreams.
Beth’s musical journey began in the late 90s, after a divorce, as she was winding down her career as a civil rights attorney and beginning her journey to cross the gender divide. She fell in love with music, singing songs around campfires with talented songwriter and guitarist friends. Infused with these folk influences, the first country song she ever wrote, “The Good Woman Waltz” became the title cut of her first CD, originally released under the name Bill Isbell, and the #1 song in the Texas Top 40 for original songwriters. Simultaneously, she began furiously writing punk rock songs and released The Flying Lennys EP a punk-pop collection that featured a special guest appearance by one of her close friends, neighbor, and musical mentors, Jazz legend Joe McBride.
Living as a women in a man’s body was not an easy evolution; Beth was thrown out of clubs and banned from playing some of her favorite venues as her soul and body transitioned. But, she persevered. During this trying period, she focused on song writing and improving her performance skills as the front person for Dallas psychedelic blues rock band - and underground critic darlings - The Dead Prophets. Beth’s prolific songwriting contin-ued and she placed in several national songwriting competitions and went on to release a number of EPs spanning genres including coffee-house style folk-rock, acoustic rock, and electric blues [“Live @ Blue Moon” (B. Isbell), “The Awakening” (B. Isbell), “Aardvark” (Beth Isbell) and “This Is The Blues!” (Beth Isbell)].
In September 2014, Beth and her band alternative psychedelic rock band BeThisBell (aka BeTh isBell), a collection of good friends from music college (ACM@UCO) released “We Are The Gods!” - a full-length psychedelic-grunge-punk-glam rock album, produced by Trent Bell (Chainsaw Kittens). The band issued a 5 song follow up EP "Work It Out" in April 2015, with Trent Bell again producing. Beth was the main songwriter for both releases. As a result, BeThisBell was invited and performed at the 2015 CMJ Music Marathon in NYC.
Beth currently lives in Humboldt County, CA, on the gorgeous North Coast of California, about 4 hours North of San Francisco, where she DJs the popular Flower Power Hour psychedelic rock radio show for local station KMUD FM, as well as co-hosting the station’s Friday drive-time new releases show Musical Possibilities. Beth works with developmentally challenged adults during her day job, even occasionally getting to put her musical skills to use to teach and entertain the facility’s disabled clients. “It’s very rewarding, but challenging, work.”
In December 2015, Beth released a 4 song EP “2015” under her new stage name “Beth Bell”, a nickname given to her by local Humboldt guitar legend "Jimi Jeff" (Robinson), with three new songs recorded in Humboldt by producer Jimmy Foot (Bongo Boy Studio), and orchestrated pop song “Love Tonight” recorded ACM@UCO.
In February 2016, Beth Bell officially released a 6 song EP “Shine On!” featuring some of the opening and closing songs from her three most recent official releases. The new EP kicks off with contemplative Work It Out, the Bowie-esque We Are The Gods!, and this EP’s powerful title cut Shine On!. The EP rounds out with the inspiring In This Moment, recent single “Love Sublime” – a message to her twins and the LGBT community, and the heavily pop-orchestrated “Love Tonight.” Six very uplifting mainstream rock songs intended to inspire. And devoid of drug references and F-word filled grunge punk rants for which BeThisBell albums are known.
Beth and her new and old bandmates have begun work with Trent Bell on their next full length full band Beth Bell debut album “Sun King” which includes some new, sonically different, tracks featuring OKC keyboardist Holly Moorad. The new Beth Bell “Sun King” album is expected to be completed and available later this year or in Spring/Summer 2019.
Guitarist & vocalist Beth Bell (Bio: http://www.sonicbids.com/band/bethbell/), and guitarist Justin Hays met at music college (ACM@UCO) and formed the band BeThisBell in Spring 2011. Shortly thereafter Cody Fowler (who is also in the band Horse Thief, signed to Bella Union Records) joined the band on bass and turned us on to Kellan Turner on drums. The band has played shows at various venues, music festivals, and pride festivals Oklahoma City, OK, and Dallas, TX, and the band's music has received FM radio airplay and been selected by several Sonicbids promoters for various licensing, airplay, and other performance opportunities.
After graduating from music college in 2013, the band began recording We Are The Gods! at Bell Labs in Norman, OK, with producer Trent Bell (Chainsaw Kittens) at Bell Labs, Norman, OK. We brought in Nick Ley of the band colourmusic (and now a member of The Flaming Lips), in to play drums on the album. Justin & Beth played all the rhythm guitar parts on the album. Our friend Blaise Thompson of the bands Moon, and Drainbows, and Beth laid down all the lead guitar parts on the album, with Justin laying down the lead on Ruby. The band's sound is alternative rock painted with psychedelic, proto-punk, indie-rock, garage, shoegaze, & blues-rock influences.
Due to the strength of it's first album, the band recently picked up a music publishing administration deal with Essex Music Intl., Inc., which also administers publishing rights for David Bowie. Garrett Haines of Treelady Studios mastered the album. Both Trent and Garrett are former grammy award winners for their prior studio work. The band's first album We Are The Gods! was officially released on September 15, 2014. https://soundcloud.com/bethisbell/sets/bethisbell-album-we-are-the-gods
The band followed up their September 2014 WATG! album with a 5 song EP "Work It Out" released this past April (2015). Whereas, We Are The Gods! told a dark angry twisting story ending in hope. Work It Out is, as the title suggests, a workman-like effort at delivering on that hope, living out that dream. From Beth's soaring guitar work - pouring her soul out in Bleed, to the passionate plea at the end of the EP to let your individual light Shine On, the contemporary alternative vibe of Work It Out finds society right where it lives musically. Produced by Trent Bell, the band's Work It Out EP is another well-crafted work of contemporary sonic art. https://soundcloud.com/bethisbell/sets/work-it-out-ep
The band is returning to the studio to record another album tentatively titled "Sun King" with Trent Bell producing in Oklahoma City, OK. More details soon.
Frontperson BeTh isBell recently released several solo EPs: The Sun King and Shine On!,a Jazz Poetry EP with Holly Wood called The Raindrops EP, and 2 Current/Recent Local Band CDs ?Question Everything?'s Live and Big Mama Acid & The Cosmis Argonaut's RayTiator. And, BeThisBell, the band, has recently released a 5th Anniversary Reissue Version of their groundbreaking psychedelic rock album We Are The Gods! with artist interview & new tracks.
BeTh is also a published poet signed to a book publishing deal under the name Sarah Isbell andhas released four books: The Broken Whale - an existentialist poetry collection and an illustrated children's book called The Book Of Green Goo: A Lesson On Being Snotty - an imaginative Dr. Seuss themed look at tolerance, acceptance, and some basics of health safety (cold/flu). Pieces of Humboldt: A Humboldt Collective Art Project features gorgeous scenic photography paired with matching poems from over 30 local artists (poets & photographers) about her home Humboldt County, CA. AND her most recent book, Psychotic Kittens - a second collection of BeTh's poems and poetic writing. She has another poetry and children's book written, and is looking for a book agent and book publisher following the collapse of her last book publishing contract due to the publisher (Tate/OKC) filing for bankruptcy.
Beth Bell and BeThisBell Music Publicist: Jory White, Vesperize PR (San Francisco, CA)
Beth Bell and BeThisBell Music Attorney: Tomy McDonald (Tulsa, OK)
Music Publishers: Essex Music Intl., Inc., TRO Workshop Prod., Inc., and WCI Publishing, L.L.C.
Sarah Isbell Books Agent: LOOKING FOR NEW BOOK AGENT
Books Publishers: WCI Publishing, L.L.C. and LOOKING FOR NEW BOOK PUBLISHER
Meet BeTh: I used to do civil rights law, was pretty good at it, if you're in the midwest, you even have rights on the job because of a case I worked on. Around the turn of the new century, I was diagnosed with Gender Identity disorder and began to transition from male to female. That was a difficult journey. But I am who I am & like who I am now, Sometimes society does not make it easy to be yourself, but being your true self is the only path. Be yourself.
Let the world experience your true light.
"I live to create, fucking art for the masses, this bitch loves to rock!"
- BeTh's personal haiku! :),
I've always been interested in music. Picked up a guitar in high school, but never stuck with it back then. After my divorce & during the whole transition process, writing songs kept me sane. If not for songwriting & music, I would have lost hope & would not be here. That's a pretty serious, but true, statement. In light of my gender change, I decided to go to music college to pursue music. And I'm thankful that I did, because my songwriting & performance skills have improved greatly. I don't have much opportunity or the money to return to law ... so got to find a way to make this work for the sake of my twins!
"PRETTY GOOD THOUGHT PROVOKING LOU REED STYLE PUNK ...
OR SOMETHING!!" ... a fan ... I just love my fans!
The WATG! album is a ride through depression, despair, and eventually finding acceptance of your true self. Perhaps because the songs mirror my journey, many people have told me that when they listen to the new album, it has an almost magical therapeutic effect for those experiencing going through similar emotional struggle & pain. It's been a hard journey, and these songs are a relection of that, but they also reflect the wisdom that the pain of the soul can bring, it's healing power, and how the depth of one's emotions create grace. And beauty. We are all beautiful.
I truly hope that you know how beautiful and special you are to the world. We need you!
BeTh iBell's music has been described as "edgy, subversive," "passionate," "innovative," "alternative art at its best"
"which redefines 'dark' as a plausible blend of the psychedelic & the acoustic!", and BeTh as "an artist who is truly one of a kind!"
BeTh is a 3 time Top 10 category finalist in the USA Songwriting Contest -and- a TAXI Top 10 monthly songwriter pick (7/08).
I recently received my Bachelor's degree in music performance and music business in May 2013 from ACM@UCO.
I would like to eventually teach. And tour. That would be sweet. And fight. For your right to be yourself too.
I am a songwriter. A teller of tales. A painter of sounds.
Thanks for your support!
Contact Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org