Gabriella is an appropriate Student Spotlight to end and begin a new year with, because I’ve watched her and her sister Micayli grow up, and she’s watched just about every transition Molly’s Music has been through. I met her back when I was still teaching by myself and had no other teachers working for us, no Sarah talking to the customers, and no other studios except for Costa Mesa. She was one of the original OC Glee members, back before it became Studio M (you can even catch a younger version of her singing in this Glee video). And I even accompanied her to recording sessions in LA. Gabriella is and always has been exceptionally talented. Even when it seemed like she wasn’t listening, she still seemed to absorb everything I said. She’s also one of those fortunate singers who can hear a vocal sound and intuitively know how to reproduce it. Unsurprisingly, I’ve more recently discovered that her excellent ear has given her a knack for songwriting!
As a quick then and now, here’s a track of “Part of Your World” she recorded when she was around 8, followed by her original song, “Holly” that she sang at our recital last year.
Without any further buildup, enjoy her interview with Sarah!
MM: What’s your story as a musician?
GW: I’ve been singing with Molly for almost nine years, I started when I was 7 and now I’m turning 16! I was also a part of the first original glee club at Molly’s Music. Before that I’d learned piano when I was 4 so it could help me develop learning skills and overall persistence. Well, I didn’t like the piano so much, but I was very persistent in begging for singing lessons! Eventually when my mom let me take a few singing lessons, I wasn’t practicing or paying attention. Every single one of my singing teachers had given up on me and my mom thought she’d need to cover her ears at my recital – I did “Tomorrow” from Annie. But when I sang I must have done alright as she told me she was asking/joking ‘is that my daughter?’ After that I won her over, she wanted to see me sing more, and the singing teachers were bugging her all the time. And now, I’m actually teaching myself a little bit of piano again.
MM: I hear you’re recording a song, an original. Tell me more!
GW: I was coming up with little songs even back in kindergarten, but as you know obviously not that good of ones. One day at show and tell I forgot to bring something so I just sang to avoid being embarrassed. It went a lot better than I thought it would. So well my kindergarten teacher made me sing “Tomorrow” to every kindergarten class, every first grade class, Junior kindergarten, the teacher’s lounge, and the front office. So I sang tomorrow about 12 times that day, looking back at that I think she should be my manager.
Now, I’ve written about 70 songs total, counting the bad and good together. Out of the good ones, there’s somewhere around 30! Whenever I write something I’ll notify my mom immediately while running down the stairs. Usually she likes whatever I’ve written, but sometimes she’ll tell me to revise something.
Sometimes I’ll just sing and record it on my phone and make it up as I go like improv. So then I’ll just have to tweak it here or there. Sometimes I won’t record, of course, and I’ll miss out on a good song with potential.
Last Christmas I wrote a song, “Holly.” I’m actually recording that song this month. I’m hoping this’ll be the first of many recordings. In the past I’ve done a couple but since then I’ve been wanting to get back in the studio. I’ll hear other parts I want in my songs, so sometimes I’ll have to go back and record that separately at home so I don’t forget, whether it’s backing vocals or a buh-uhhh-buh type of thing. I’m excited I won’t just hear it in my head anymore, but have it recorded.
I don’t really share my music on social media yet because I’m worried about it getting stolen without copyrighting it. But this song “Holly” should be out on iTunes! And soon I will be sharing some of my original work in addition to posting covers. A lot of my friends already listen to my music and say they want to buy my first album, too. I have a lot of projects getting under way, so I’m using my instagram for that more now, you should check it out @gabby.wells.
MM: What are some of your favorite songs and lyrics you’ve written?
GW: Oh! Well, this ones something I’m happy with: (find my heart)
“can someone find my heart a home
Because I’m homeless
and I need somewhere to go
I thought that I was welcome here
but to you I’m just a stranger with tears
can someone find my heart a home
and say they’ll never let me go
just like you used to”
Another line I like is:
“you’re my number one fear
that keeps reoccurring,
like a deja vu that keeps conjuring you,
but there’s no one to hear me.”
My favorite songs are probably “Find My Heart,” “Car Wash,” and “Bang Bang.” The chorus of “Find My Heart” is the top one above, which is about being heartbroken over someone who you thought you belonged with. “Car Wash” is about cleansing yourself of who you are. I don’t know though, maybe I should change that name because it’s a lot better then it sounds and doesn’t belong in a 90s commercial. Lastly “Bang Bang” is about comparing being in love and then broken hearted to fighting in a war.
MM: What are some of the other hobbies and interests you have, and where does music fall in that?
GW: I mentioned I used to act a lot, I also am starting to model now, too, and I compete in dance at Focus Dance Center as well. I started out singing more than acting, I think the plays were more about out-there topics. Music just fills me, I can’t wait to turn on the radio on the car ride home and just absorb it all. It’s my favorite time of day, especially if it’s not that great of a one.
I do visual art, too, painting with watercolor or oil or anything. There’s this one girl, I’m not sure who she is, but I imagine her and somehow she finds her way into all my paintings. It’s just another way to express myself, I think, because I never purposely put her in them. Sometimes I add quotes from my songs with the art, like what I do with my captions on Instagram, they’re always my work. I’m not sure who said it, but I’m obsessed with the quote “You have to love. You have to feel. That is why you are here on earth, you are here to risk your heart.”
MM: What do you like about that quote?
GW: I like doing something I’m afraid to do, it makes me feel strong, powerful. I mean, of course you’re scared to death, too. But it makes me feel like I just conquered the world.
Performing counts, I have stage fright, and anxiety, but I get up and push myself because I love singing and it’s not that I just want it, I need it. Not just singing, but music in general, that’s why I’m going to make it my career. So I have to get over the fact that I’m anxious, just like taking the band aid off. I still stress out just as much now as before, but I deal with it.
MM: Any last thoughts? Favorite foods, books?
GW: Sushi is something I’ve loved forever! And as for books, Everything, Everything! It’s about a girl who’s basically allergic to the world, how she hasn’t been outside for 17 years. But when she meets the boy who moved in next door, she realized life should be more than just waiting. It’s so good, no joke I finished it 4 hours after I started reading.