Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!
Vella carries a voice that can move mountains, so much so you can hardly believe she’s only 17 years old. Hailing from Tampa, Florida, the rising star has had a phenomenal past year ever since she went viral on TikTok, a platform where she does mind-blowing covers of all your favorite songs—showcasing her vocals that do not go unnoticed.
Boasting over 2 million followers on TikTok alone, with her most viewed video hailing nearly 40 million views and counting, Vella brings that same exact energy into the music industry. Each of her singles are paired with cinematic visuals to match, most recently unleashing “Rumors.” The song’s music video sees Vella arriving as the newest girl in town. Soon after, the neighbors start getting suspicious and begin spreading rumors—something we all can relate to at some point in our lives.
The message? Ignore the haters, and don’t let anything bring you down! “Rumors” follows the success of her debut single “Sky Without Stars,” holding fans over until the release of her debut project.
Flaunt caught up with the L3V3L Music signee via FaceTime, who describes herself as “outgoing.” She states, “I’m very passionate about music. Overall I’m outgoing and I love putting music out there. I love performing in front of crowds, it’s my favorite thing ever.
It’s crazy you’re only 17. Do you feel 17?
At times I do, at times I don’t. When I’m out there in LA, I feel older because I’m doing such grown-up stuff. I don’t feel like my age at some points, but I’m turning 18 anyway in October. [laughs].
What was it like growing up in Tampa, Florida?
It’s definitely hot out here. [laughs] It’s totally different in LA. It’s way open. It’s not a lot of music, but at times at specific places there’d be music. I’d be there most of the time. There’s a place called Ybor I’d go to, there’d be a lot of music. That whole place was a lot of music, I loved it so much. When I was little, most of the time I’d perform at venues if they had karaoke night. If a band was playing, I’d ask if I could do a little song. A lot of times at age 7 or 10, I’d love performing in front of crowds and being able to be part of the spotlight.
Who were your biggest influences?
My dad influenced me a lot with all the music I listen to right now. Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, those classic rock artists. Being part of the industry, those really truly impacted me, especially hearing it as I grew up. I’m who I am today because of the music I listen to.
How did your dad influence you to sing?
My dad plays the piano. There’s this one time when he’s casually playing, I said “oh I want to be a part of that.” I started singing, he said “Wait, I think we have something here.” He decided to put out a video on YouTube, which was me singing an Adele song, “Rolling in the Deep.” It got a thousand views, which for a 7-year-old, felt like a lot. It doesn’t seem like a lot now, but it was a lot for me. It’s still out there too, which is funny. That’s when I realized I wanted to be a singer and pursue that.
How did you get your name, Vella Lays?
When I signed to my record label, L3V3L Music, the owner Matt Hill suggested a stage name. I thought it’d be a really cool idea because there’s a lot of people named Gabriella. We had to pick something different. He decided “why not use the V in Valdez and Ella as in Gabriella, to make Vella?” He helped mostly with the name, because I didn’t know what to do. I’m so used to Gabriella.
“Rumors” is out now! How are you feeling?
I feel amazing about it. It did really well in Brazil. It got on the charts out there, which is crazy. I absolutely love that song. I knew right there and then I wanted to record it. When I first went with the label, they gave me some songs to choose for my debut single and it was one of them. I said “yeah, we’re doing this one,” because it’s such a cool song. Also a really cool music video. One of my favorites and I’m so happy with how it turned out.
What was your creative vision with the video?
The director Kavan came in with a strong creative direction and so I followed his lead! I thought we could do some really cool outfits, because my first single “Sky Without Stars,” only had one outfit for the video. I thought it’d be a cool idea to do more outfits, so we had a total of 8 or 9 outfits in the video. My favorite part was the fire scene. The location was really cool. We shot at a burned down house and it brought the video together.
How does it feel to hit a million on Youtube is less than 2 months?
It was crazy. I was freaking out about it. Mostly, I’d do covers on TikTok. Seeing people liking my original stuff makes me really happy. I don’t want to be known as a cover artist, I want to be my own artist. Seeing people like my original content makes me really really happy.
What was your biggest cover video?
The “I See Red” video really made me go viral. It gained 36 million views on TikTok – crazy! I got a million followers from that one video, it was insane. I would’ve never thought something like that could happen. It has 8 million likes currently. Ever since then, everything’s changed completely. People now start noticing me outside. One time I was at Urban Outfitters and this girl noticed me. I’m like “What! What’s going on?” It’s insane!
What can we expect from your new single, “Pull the Trigger”?
It’s a heartbreak song. There’s also going to be a music video and the song is absolutely beautiful. I’m really proud of this song and I think fans are really going to like it. It talks about how you need to have the same energy in a relationship. I’m not gonna spoil it. It’s a really good song, I love it so much.
3 things you need in the studio?
Tea, vocal warmups, and all the lights turned off in the booth. I like recording with no lights.
What do you like to do for fun?
I started playing the guitar and piano. I’m trying to learn because I want to write more, so I started playing the guitar. I’m improving a little bit, I’m proud of myself.
How did the COVID pandemic affect you?
When COVID started, that’s when I started doing TikTok. That’s really honestly the best decision I ever made. It changed everything for me. That’s how my record label found me. I was so happy. Until this day, I’m really happy I decided to make a TikTok. I was so bored at my house in quarantine not doing anything. So it was like, why not do TikTok? So right there and then, it started blowing up. Insane, I would’ve never thought it’d happen. It’s crazy.
What’re you most excited about going on tour?
I’m excited to see everyone. I’m excited to see my fans. I’m excited to perform with a band. It’s gonna be crazy because the band I’m working with is super cool. I’m mostly excited about Tampa because there’s gonna be a lot of people I know at the Tampa show. It’s gonna be amazing. Being on tour is my favorite part about this whole thing, because I love performing. I love seeing people, it’s gonna be really fun. I’m super excited about it.