By Alex Distefano
By Daniel Kohn
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By Nick Schou
By Nate Jackson
By Nate Jackson
By Dave Lieberman
By Daniel Kohn
Orange County pop singer Bella don't need no stinking American Idol.
What's your musical background?
I started singing when I was 10. I went to a performing-arts school in LA and got discovered by a producer. I got signed by him, and I started writing songs, recording and performing.
Are you still in high school?
Yeah, I'm in 11th grade. I'll be 17 in two weeks.
What's your goal?
I'm trying to finish more songs to get a deal this year.
How does your songwriting process work?
I write with my producer. I go to LA almost every day after school, and we write. It's fun. It doesn't seem like work to me. My producer comes up with a track, and I try to think of song titles, and we start writing it. Then we record and mix it. We have about 10 songs finished.
Your schedule seems tough.
It's really, really hard to concentrate on both music and school.
How do your parents feel about your schedule and career?
They're very supportive. I also play the harp, and I go to LA for that, too. I was raised in a very musical family, and they're very supportive and helpful. My school is very supportive. I don't take art class, or P.E., or music, because I do dance and fitness and singing-all that stuff. So they changed the school schedule for me. They all believe in me, and I'm very thankful.
When you went to the performing-arts school, was it for harp or singing?
For singing. It's not like other performing-arts schools. It's more like private-agency kind of stuff. They were industry professionals, not just teachers, so it was really fun. I had to audition. I passed it, and it changed my life. Before that, I was singing and going to voice lessons, but when I got there, I improved my style, my performing, and it became more serious. I met kids who are like me and love music, so it was fun. They're not like school friends. They all sing and do movies.
Do you take dance classes because people expect that of a pop singer?
Not really, because I started dancing when I was really young. It's something I want to do.
I saw that there's a Bella street team on MySpace.
I met them on MySpace, and they messaged me and said they'd like to do a street team for me. They help me promote my music.
Is Bella Seoul another name you perform under?
My real last name is Lee, and I'm from Seoul, Korea. Bella Seoul sounds like "beautiful soul."
When did you come to America?
This is my third year. People are very surprised with my English because I've been here only three years. I knew a little English before I came here.
Did you come here to play music?
Yeah. I was going to be a singer in Korea, and I had a record deal. I was 14. I decided to come here to expand my dream to be a singer.
Have you lived in Orange County the whole time you've been in America?
Yeah. I always wanted to live in LA because it's hard to go back and forth. But I like it here because it's peaceful, clean, everything's new and everything's nice.
Would you ever want to do something likeAmerican Idol to make it?
Not really [laughs]. It's just not me. American Idol is singing, singing, singing, and I want something else. I just want to get a record deal and become a singer, but not through American Idol.
Do you ever feel like you're missing out on things other 16-year-olds might be doing?
Yeah, because I rarely hang out with my friends. My friends would get mad because I can't call them because I'm working. Some of them understand, but it's really hard to go out with friends and have a social life. My friends would be singers, producers and dancers. It's not bad, but it's not like other kids who are my age.
For more information, visit www.myspace.com/bellauniverse.