Singer Bella Gaffney is enjoying her busy folk journey
and live on Freeview channel 276
We spent a little time talking about her studies, life in a pandemic, soup and obviously her music, and how her latest solo project is gradually coming together with a little help from two charitable organisations. More on those later.
First order of discussion focused on Bella’s newly released single Black Water, it’s a delightfully twee song that pays homage to a series of beautiful rivers that connects Bella to both her friends and family who live miles away. Her vocals smoothly sail along the Dales River and the River Wharfe, subtly accompanied by a delicately played fiddle, delivered with ease by Emily Lawler. It was also produced by frequent collaborator Dan Webster in York, a fitting homage to visual splendour of the Yorkshire landscape and a suitable epitaph to Bella’s connection to the earthy land she holds so dear.
It’s a rather beautiful affair and as such it felt like such a good place to start the discussion, namely by gently chastising Bella for only deeming us worthy of the grace of her vocals on anything else, at least yet.
“I do have two other albums but they’re not on Spotify or any other streaming services”, her laughter throughout belies the fact that she would prefer if you bought her actual CD rather than give in to the whims of the “evil” streaming overlords. Cue more laughter.
Originally hailing from Bradford, Bella departed for university in Nottingham - the posh ‘un - before making her way to York, where she resides now. Over the years she’s carefully honed her craft, not only vocally but also on both the guitar and the banjo.
“When I was younger, about 14, I used to go to a place called The Topic in Bradford. It’s where I learnt a lot of folk songs and a lot about traditional music there. So, you could say that influenced a lot of the music that I wrote, a folksy acoustic-style.”
Around this time Bella met Polly Bolton, and together they would form The Magpies. Polly would eventually leave. The band have released a rather lovely album called Tidings. Give it a listen.
“We actually did a gig at The Greystones back in March 2020, it was one of our last ones before the lockdown, loved it… it was great”. Ah, the lockdown, how did she cope? I asked, “I was a bit lonely, I didn’t have anyone to play with.”
Not to be deterred, Bella turned her focus to the digital-sphere, forming new musical relationships over the internet.
“I got involved in this project called Global Music Match, which partnered us up with musicians from all over. We met people from Canada, Estonia, loads of places. We all got to know each other and eventually collaborated together. The album I’m making at the moment has come from that.” The album set to be released in 2022 came about as a result of the Project which was funded by Arts Council England and also the York-based charity Doing it for Liam.
Our conversation deviated off-piste for a while longer, we talked about all of the things one must explore while in Bradford — of which there’s a surprising amount. Bella’s musical influences were also discussed.
“John Martin is one of my favourites, brilliant guitarist... he’s dead now”, cue more laughter. “Martin Simpson as well, he’s great and, obviously, Joni Mitchell but I listen to all sorts.”
Bella Gaffney, when she isn’t arduously working on her PhD or intermingling with international musicians to broaden their collective creative horizons, will be making some time to tour throughout November. It’s a great opportunity to hear some of the new material from her album and also to be enthralled by her amusing anecdotes.
I asked her about the inspiration behind Black Water, a beautiful ode to the Yorkshire landscape, her answer was suitably fitting.
“Yorkshire’s just nice… innit?”