The Music Moment: Bianka Isabella

4 mins read

At six years old, Bianka Isabella found her love for music in her church choir. A few years later, she watched her cousin win ABC’s reality TV show Boy Band. “Seeing him write his own music and touch people’s hearts through his songs inspired me to pursue music,” she said. Now, she’s a junior at M-A with multiple songs released on Spotify, a debut EP on its way, and her very own rock band.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Isabella decided to put her original music online for the first time. She recalled, “It was really intimidating to start releasing music. I was in seventh grade when I put out my first song. It blew up on YouTube and got around 3,000 views, which is a lot for a seventh-grader’s first song. I got super overwhelmed, so I deleted the video.” 

In 2023, Isabella started going to Riekes, a center for fitness, arts, and nature awareness in the center of Menlo Park. 

“At first, I went to Riekes to work out, but that did not go as planned,” they laughed. “I figured out they had a music program, so I started to take voice lessons instead of going to the gym. As soon as I entered the music program, the staff told me to audition for the Spain trip.”

Isabella (center) with the Riekestra

Riekes put together a band—called the Riekestra—to travel to Spain during the summer of 2023, where the musicians and vocalists performed covers of hits like “Valerie” by Amy Winehouse and “Hotel California” by the Eagles at beaches and campsites.

“The band became so close because of how much we had in common,” Isabella explained. “We were all there to do something we loved. Performing was draining but so exciting at the same time. The adrenaline of being onstage was amazing.”

Playing with the band introduced Isabella to new genres that now influence her solo sound. “My music is inspired by a lot of 2000s pop punk, like Avril Lavigne and Paramore,” she said. “Rock was never my style—I always preferred Billie Eilish’s style—but playing rock with this band helped bring out a side of me that I didn’t know I had.”

When the Spain trip came to an end, so did the Reikestra, but the band members wanted to continue making music together. And so, their new band Psyche was born.

“We got together and continued to play the songs that we learned for Spain, and also added some new songs too,” they said. Though they only play covers at the moment, the band is planning to work on some original music in the future.

Being part of the Reikestra and Psyche has been a whirlwind of fun. She said, “For a really long time, I just wanted to be a solo artist. But when I started playing with a band, I realized that the connections you make and the support you get in a band are so much better than making music on your own. Being in a band is like being a turtle: you have a shell on your back.”

Outside of Psyche, Isabella writes her own solo music. She recently released “My Mistake,” a punchy pop tune that Isabella described as being about “the stage of wanting to be with someone but knowing it’s a mistake.” 

“My Mistake” is the first look at Isabella’s debut EP The Love Game, which will be released in April and chronicles the stages of a toxic romantic relationship. “It starts with being really in love, and then it turns into obsession, and then you realize, ‘Shit, I got played,’” she explained.

The process of creating a tracklist was a new and challenging experience for Isabella. “I wrote a lot of love songs when I was in a lovey-dovey phase, but then things took a turn, and I started writing songs about being obsessed,” she said. “After the relationship ended, I realized that all the songs I had written could make up a story. So I picked the best of the songs from each chapter of the story and put it into one EP.”

“I had to cut a lot of songs since I didn’t want to put out a full-length album, but I definitely might go back to some of those scrapped songs one day,” she added.

Isabella works with a family friend to produce her solo music. She said, “My songwriting is based on my emotions. Whatever I’m feeling at the moment, I just write it down. Sometimes I write with my guitar, and then my producer adds beats and instrumentals. Other times, I find a beat on YouTube and he recreates it, or I buy the beat and he fixes it and makes it better.”

“If I’m writing when I feel very inspired or emotional, I can usually finish a song in a day,” they continued. “But if I decide to write about something I’ve never actually experienced, it takes longer—around a week or so.”

2022’s bedroom-pop ballad “I Thought You Knew” was one that took a while to write. “The song is about a situationship between a girl and my brother,” Isabella explained. “My brother thought the girl knew that he liked her, but she didn’t know. I didn’t personally live through the situation, so it was really hard to write about. But I pushed myself because I thought the topic was super interesting.”

Isabella promotes her music on social media, posting weekly covers on her Instagram account. “I’m really bad at it, but I try my best to post online as often as I can. It helps me get out there and people leave really nice comments,” she said.

The intimidation she felt when she released her first song in seventh grade hasn’t gone away, but she’s learned how to manage it. “It’s intimidating to be in high school and release music, and it’s scary to think about if people will make fun of me,” they said. “But I’ve realized that there will always be people who like my music and people who don’t, and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s good to take criticism and improve, but I never take it to heart too much.”

Ben Siegel is a junior at M-A and in his second year of journalism. He is a Design Lead for The Mark and manages Bear Tracks, the M-A Chronicle’s weekly newsletter. His opinion piece calling for improved Holocaust education was recognized by CSPA as the best personal opinion about an on-campus issue in 2023. You can find more of Ben’s music journalism at Riff Magazine.

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