By: Shayla Lee
If you listen to a lot of music like I do, you probably know exactly what I mean when I say I usually have that one certain song that I’m playing on a loop because I just need to be listening to it at all times. Trella’s song ‘Vapor’ is that song. From the beautiful lyrics to the layered instrumentals I just couldn’t get enough. Trella chatted with FEMME RIOT about her EP ‘Vapor’, empowering others, and breaking down barriers as a woman in the music industry.
FEMME RIOT: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Trella: I was born and raised in Florida, growing up on the beaches of Jacksonville. I have always been super into music. My parents say I started singing long before I could ever talk. Three of my biggest passions are music, the ocean, and humans.
What inspired you to become a musician? Was it something you always knew you wanted to do or was there an “ah-ha” moment?
My mother was a music teacher most of my life, and my dad is a pastor. I grew up with music both in the church and at home. My mom had students in the house for voice and piano lessons pretty much throughout my entire childhood, so music was really just a part of me. I started singing before I could talk, and I haven’t really shut up ever since. I picked up the guitar at the age of 10 and started writing as an expression, and really as therapy. I went to a liberal arts magnet high school focusing on vocal performance, and began to really dig into music, taking classes such as opera, jazz history, music history, vocal technique, keyboard, music theory, recording, etc. I do remember taking a keyboard class in high school, and really finding a passion for writing in the realms of jazz, pop, and soul as I began to write from the keyboard. I was also a part of the songwriting club in high school where my love for writing was really encouraged, and I began to focus much more on the craft. I would say that music has always been a part of my identity. I never knew that I would make a career of it, it kind of just naturally happened and then one day I was like “I guess I should quit my job”….and here I am!
What is the song-writing process for you like?
For me, the songwriting process literally looks different every time I go at it. There is absolutely no formula, and that’s what is beautiful about it. Sometimes a melody comes to me in the car, on a walk, or in the middle of the night, then I voice memo it, and come back to it at the piano later that day. Sometimes melodies haunt me for days, and force me to write them, and then sometimes, I sit down with my writer friends, and pump out a full song in 6 hours. It really just depends on the day. It is a super fluid process and that’s what is so special about it.
What three words would you use to describe your music?
Jazzy, Poppy, Smooth
‘Stand Up’ is an empowering song that you said you wrote to empower yourself as well as others. Can you talk more about what inspired you to write this song?
I wrote this song when healing from a dark time in my life in which I felt like I had been held down for years by many different forces. It’s a “rising up from the ashes” type of song. I wrote it to help myself believe and understand that I am stronger now and more powerful than ever. I also wrote it for my friends. I work with a mentoring organization for teenage mothers in and around the metro Nashville area, and I see these friends go through the worst of circumstances on a daily basis, yet they are so strong and go about life in a way that truly challenges and inspires me. I wrote this song with their faces and stories in mind as well. They inspire me daily as friends, and they are incredibly strong/brave women and mothers.
I see ‘Crash’ as a song about breaking free from a bad situation, whether that is a toxic relationship with a partner or friend. What was the inspiration behind this song?
I wrote ‘Crash’ as an anthem of independence after just freshly getting out of a toxic relationship. This song is about ripping off the labels that had been put on me for years by other people, and stating who I am in my own words. The “break-up” whether it be with a toxic friend or romantic partner can really play a number on your identity and it is super important to remember who you are, declaring core-self, and pointing out the lies, or the “wicked games” that these lies have been playing with your heart and your sense of self.
‘Vapor’ is another standout song on the EP. What was the inspiration behind this one?
I wrote ‘Vapor’ as an expression of the season of life that I was in at the time. It was a period where I had become incredibly numb. I was distracting myself with temporary and fleeting things, and had completely shut off emotionally. The concept of ‘Vapor’ is the idea of accepting a substitute for the real thing in an attempt to feel something.
Have you faced any adversity being a woman in the music industry? Have you ever felt pressure to be molded into something you’re not?
Of course. I would say that being a woman in any industry you must work 10 times harder to prove yourself. I have felt pressure at times to have an image that is simply not true of who I am. I have also felt myself fall into stereotypically “female” roles within the industry while some less stereotypical roles that I possess are simply overlooked, therefore I have to fight to be recognized and have a voice in these areas. I must remind myself daily of who I am. ALSO, I have INCREDIBLE kick-ass female mentors in the music industry that empower and encourage me daily. Confidence breaks down most barriers in my experience.
Confidence breaks down most barriers in my experience.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Lots of new music in the works. I’m about to hit the studio this summer, and plan on releasing a ton of music starting in the fall. More writing, more shows, more collaboration, more creative ventures.
Five songs you’re listening to right now?
Anything else you want to add that we haven’t asked?
If you enjoy my music, tell your pals! It can be tough getting your music into this complex universe as an indie artist.
If you want to follow Trella on her musical journey, you can follow her on Spotify, Instagram, and Facebook! If you’re new to Trella’s music, our top three faves are ‘This Year’ for Christmas vibes, ‘Vapor‘ if you’re looking for ‘that’ song, and ‘Stand Up’ if you want to feel empowered. All of the photographs in this article were taken by Mikaela Hamilton and provided by Trella.