Malaysia-born, Glasgow-based indie singer-songwriter Belly Rachel has recently her new single ‘Cynical’, along with a DIY music video, filmed between Glasgow and London. A raucous release that sees Belly thriving on the ability to experiment with her music, it is the most emotionally raw and authentic song she has penned to date.
To help celebrate the release and share our appreciation for the track, we couldn't wait to speak with her about the track, finding out what inspired it, what's next for her as an artist, and who she'd love to collaborate with.
Its so great to speak with, Belly! Thank you for taking the time out. Can you tell us about the new single?
"I wrote ‘Cynical’ after an unfortunate encounter with a pervert while I was out walking my dog. I went home shaken as hell, more out of rage than fear, at the fact that I’m about to turn thirty and stuff like this still happens to me to this day. At the age of 11, I was groped in a mall while I was out shopping for school uniforms with my mother, flashed by a stranger at a bus stop at 17, and in my twenties, received d*ck pics by a weirdo who got my socials when I was busking. That day, it dawned on me that it will probablynever end. And the most depressing thing is I’m not the only woman out there who’s had these experiences. So I wrote this song, just because I needed a way to express my disgust and fury."
How would you describe your sound on the new track?
"My music is riddled with innuendos, humour, and an underlying layer of feminine rage. Probably because I grew up in a strict Christian household in avery conservative country, where I’m expected to bite my tongue just because I was born a female. My previous singles are less confrontational than ‘Cynical’ and the other songs in my upcoming EP. Hopefully I won’t scare people away, because my songs can be uncomfortable to listen to just because of their subject matter."
What influences most define your music?
"My biggest influence was my dad, who was and still is a fantastic singer. He was the reason why I picked up the guitar at 11 to learn the chords to his favourite songs. After I discovered Joni Mitchell though, my life was forever changed. I never knew music could be so powerful and vulnerable at the same time, and she stood out from the cookie-cutter pop singers on the radio at the time. I decided I wanted to make music like Joni, and naturally I started gravitating towards the music of other strong female singer/songwriters like Alanis Morissette, Jewel and Michelle Branch."
What’s next for you as an artist?
"I am working towards finishing my EP, but other than that, I am taking things slow and steady. I’ve been doing music for over a decade now, so I’m not as greedy or as ambitious as I was when I first started out. Nowadays, I’m more dedicated to releasing music that has something to say, and that has more to offer than a catchy hook."
What would your dream collaboration be?
"It would be mind-blowing to work with boygenius or Brandi Carlile. I’m a massive fan of their work!"
What is your songwriting process? How does it all come together?
"Songwriting to me is very spontaneous. I can’t really choose when the inspiration hits. I could be in the shower, in the middle of sleeping, or during a smoke break waiting for a gig to start. My process starts with me recording with the Voice Memo app on my iPhone, and then when I have the time, I’ll grab my guitar, sit cross-legged either on the floor or my bed and work on the idea. Usually past midnight."
What’s the most important thing for you when you’re writing a song?
"Condensing the emotions I feel over the particular subject I’m writing about, and then laying it all out as effectively as possible. At this point in my career, I don’t like writing songs that feel trivial anymore."
What advice would you give to band’s who are looking to make it?
"Be humble, keep your head down and get to work. I believe everyone has their unique group of listeners, it’s just a matter of hustling enough to reach their ears."
What has been your best moment as a musician/band so far?
"Honestly, being on the cover of Spotify’s Fresh Finds UK playlist was the highlight of my year! It was awesome to feel some sort of recognition after years of hard work and people telling me I’d never make it. I allowed myself a full week of feeling high and mighty, before I yanked myself back to earth again. Because obviously, an indie artist’s work is never finished."
Having relocated to Glasgow from Malaysia in April 2022, Belly has moved away from the constraints of living in a conservative Malaysian society and has fully embraced the notion of expressing herself to the fullest. Seamlessly intertwining elements of indie, alternative rock and pop, lyrically the track calls out the inappropriate behaviour she has experienced from men from a very young age.
With ‘Cynical’ being the first of a string of releases for Belly Rachel in the coming months, she is determined to firmly make a mark on the UK music scene. Watch this space.
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