The Real Ding
GET TO KNOW: Ilan Bell
After spending the last few months building and cultivating his sound, New York-based singer-songwriter Ilan Bell is now ready to introduce himself to the world with his heartfelt debut single 'Through It All'.
Co-produced alongside Grammy award-winning producer Paul Falcone (Jay-Z, Beyonce, Tom Odell), 'Through It All' makes for a wonderfully rich and mesmerising initial offering. With his sweet and passionate voice layered across a warm and progressive piano-led aesthetic throughout, he is certainly one to keep a firm eye on for the months ahead.
So with the new single available to stream now, we sat down with him to find out more about his origins and influences over the years.
What was the first band or artist you fell in love with?
The first time I heard Bruce Springsteen was back in high school and I was totally blown away. His songs felt like they were getting at some secret truth and I just wanted to be in on it. I think in some ways my career has been driven by chasing and never quite reaching that level of songwriting.
Did you ever form a band when you were younger and if so, what did they sound like?
I played with friends growing up but I wouldn’t really call that being part of a band. Growing up, I was drawn more to singer-songwriters like Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan who would write and perform their songs mostly by themselves. I guess I was a pretty introspective kid and that kind of writing spoke to me. These days I’m much more open to collaborating because a career in music can be a lonesome enterprise at times, so I try to surround myself with good company.
What has been your primary inspiration in writing music?
Over the years I’ve learned how to write, produce, mix, and master songs but what I keep coming back to is the lyrics. For this album I tried to look at America through some of the people I’ve fallen in and out of love with—hence the title, “American Love.” And even though producing out the album was a lot of fun, I feel the most grounded when I focus on the words of my songs. I guess it’s a way of getting to know my subconscious.
What is a song you wish you had written yourself?
Hands down “Romeo and Juliet” by Dire Straits. I think it’s just one of the most devastating and brilliant songs of all time. Who would’ve thought to write a breakup song for Romeo and Juliet? I saw Mark Knopfler perform it live at Red Rocks and he had me in tears. Might have to cover it at some point…
If there was any moment in your career you could relive, what would it be?
I think I would like to relive the moment I first sat at a piano, way before I could even call music a career. I guess the beauty and the pain of any first is that there’s no way of doing it twice. But looking back at how it felt like to discover a world like that—well, there’s just nothing quite like it.
Which artist would you most love to share a stage with?
This would probably set myself up to be massively upstaged but definitely Tom Odell. He somehow manages to just sit at a piano and make an entire stadium come alive. I’ll probably never know how he does it since it’s the kind of thing you can't teach, but I would love to be a part of it.
And is there an artist you would love to collaborate with as well?
Writing with Josh Ritter would be a dream. I’ve always gravitated towards artists who really hone in on the lyrics of a song and no one does it better than him. He has a way with words and melody, so writing with him would be a true masterclass.
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Honestly, I’m really happy with where I am now so I wouldn’t want to change all that much. If I can keep writing and producing for the amazing artists I’ve met in the city and continue to be an artist myself then I’ll be pretty much right where I want to be. At the moment, I'm just trying to stay the course and let the songs do their thing.
Ilan Bell's debut single 'Through It All' is available to stream now. Check it out below.