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WHO IS

WHO IS BELLA RIOS

The college junior has been through love, heartbreak and emerged as a better songwriter on the the other side
Bella Rios
Bella Rios (Credit: Nick Spanos)

Hailing from Chicago and currently based in Princeton, N.J., where she’s studying economics at Princeton University, music has long been a part of Bella Rios‘s life. She started classical piano training when she was 5 before moving on to guitar, bass, and, eventually, saxophone. Coming from a musical family, Rios grew up on a steady diet of rock, in particular Queen, Fleetwood Mac, and Aerosmith, while vocalists like Adele, P!nk, and Lady Gaga influenced her desire to start writing her own music.

Even though she just finished her finals, Rios found time during the school year to record Sincerely, her first EP, out on May 17. Rios’s sincere yet cutting lyrics tackle the ups and downs of love and the mental anguish that goes along with it — specifically in the steady rocker “Ever After,” where Rios rails against an ex who has done her wrong. Throughout, she alternates between telling the story of romantic anticipation and utter disappointment. She doesn’t mince words, either, calling her ex an “asshole.”

On other songs, she addresses her OCD, anxiety, and body image issues. As she continues to grow more comfortable with herself, Rios says her music helps her work through feelings she’s chosen to ignore.

If Sincerely, is a harbinger of what’s to come, then Rios can start thinking about leaving the Ivy League behind (unless her parents are reading, then she should stay in school!) and focus on her music career.

For now, however, school’s out and Rios is ready to rock.

Tell us three things about yourself that are important.

I like my circle small and close.

I am the coolest version of myself when I’m singing. I’m an introverted geek otherwise.

I feel deeply. I reflect on everything I’ve experienced and internalize them into my being, how I act, how I understand, who I am. Putting it into song is my favorite form.

Tell us something that’s embarrassing.

I got the most horrifying orange spray tan the night before my senior prom. To this day, I can only look at the photos from that day if they are in black and white.

Who’s your biggest influence?

My parents, in life and music. They are my most trusted confidants, and, despite not being the most musically inclined, their music taste isn’t too shabby either.

Who’s your smallest influence?

Technically, Angus Young (He is 5’2”). Listening to AC/DC has made me feel like a badass from the age of 7 and up. I actually might still have the oversized Old Navy AC/DC t-shirt I religiously wore as PJs in middle school.

Bella Rios
Bella Rios (Credit: Nick Spanos)

Who’s the most exciting musician in 2024 (besides you)?

Chappell Roan. Her music is so honest, and I love the ’80s renaissance vibes.

Name three Americans so odious that they should be set adrift in a dinghy in the Arctic Circle with enough food and water to only last them 24 hours.

To quote the infamous words of Chief Brody in Jaws, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Do you believe in magic?

Call it what you will, but I see magic everywhere – in my family of six getting along perfectly for more than an hour, in the laughs of my friends, in the way sunshine hitting your face can immediately make your day 100x better, and in music bringing so many people together.