Photo: Märta Thisner (Bella Boo)

Bella Boo‘s debut album Once Upon a Passion provided a glimpse of hope in otherwise dire times. Released in Autumn last year, it felt like the perfect coda to an uneasy Summer: equal parts melancholic and hopeful, it served as a reminder that it could always get worse but that the music’s here to stay, and Gabriella Borbély, too. After two highly successful EPs for Studio Barnhus, it firmly established her as one of house music’s luminaries. Fast forward not even half a year and the global situation seems even more catastrophic then before. Also for Borbély, whose contribution to the Groove podcast channels her own feelings during a time of lockdown in her new home Los Angeles.


You usually not tour internationally very often. Did you however had gigs canceled? How does the current situation affect you economically? You’ve recently mentioned in an interview that you had started focusing “only on music”.

It didn’t affect me yet, I knew I wasn’t gonna make any money DJing being in Los Angeles without a work visa, so I had other work in line, making music for commercials, etc. But yeah, it seems like summer is cancelled and it’s really ironic that I just now, when everything is shut down, got my work visa for the US. With the uncertain times who knows when we can dance again? Existential crisis coming up.

After a few EPs, you released your debut LP Once Upon A Passion last year. After preparing much of the record in London, you recorded it while you were “obsessed” with your Stockholm studio, from which you were being evicted at that time. What impact did that situation have on your working process?

I really really felt I had to finish the album before moving out, it was like it was my only chance to do it. Of course it wasn’t, but dramatic me kind of needed that urge to make it happened, it made me super focus. It was an end of an era kind of feeling.

The album track “Hotel Europa” featured Gnučči, with whom you have collaborated before: in 2013, you and Cristian Dinamarca remixed her song “Oh My Goodness”. It was the first release under the Bella Boo name and, so far, your only remix. What’s your relationship with the rapper and how did that early remix come about?

I’ve made 5 remixes, check them out! I love Ana, we’re good friends and I’m a fan and we toured together for a year or two, I was her DJ. Dinamarca is also a good friend, and the remix came along naturally one time when we were just hanging out in the studio. I was really excited to finish something, at that time I was mostly just playing around learning in the studio.

Gnučči is not the only guest on Once Upon A Passion. Rapper Def Sound can be heard on “Way Chill”, “Girlfriend” features Miranda and Elektra Kilbey of the pop duo Say Lou Lou. How do you usually work with vocalists? Do you, for example, try to work together on the lyrics with them?

It’s a different process every time, and I’m still learning. I find that it needs to be a lot of trust in order to be honest. The less ego the better, but ego is also good – it makes it original!

The photo on the front cover of the LP was shot by your daughter and shows you behind the decks at home. Between your two Technics, there’s a record you wouldn’t expect a house DJ, or pretty much any DJ to play: Ornette Coleman’s The Shape of Jazz to Come, a milestone free jazz. What kind of set were you playing in that situation?

It was one of the first days of spring last year, and I was picking records for a gig in Amsterdam with studio Barnhus. I was playing Ornette Coleman for breakfast – I listen to a lot of jazz, probably have more jazz records than house to be honest!

What was the idea behind your contribution to the Groove podcast?

I wanted to catch the feelings I have right now, living in a lockdown in LA. Longing, sentimental and hopeful at the same time.

Last but not least: What are your plans as a producer? In a previous Groove interview, you have spoken about a collaborative album that is currently in the works and have also mentioned closely with Jens Resch.

Yeah, me and Jens have almost finished our album and there’s a remix pack of my album coming out soon that I’m pretty excited about! Look out for a Bella Boo release on Kornél Kovács’ label PUSS, and a compilation on Art Alfie’s label Velvet Pony. I just want to keep on making lots of music. I love, love, love being I the studio. With my existential crisis coming up I might change direction, though. Film scores? Might manifest that one day when I am confident enough.

Stream: Bella Boo – Groove Podcast 252

01. Baaz – Absent
02. Karima F – Two Eggs In A Hammock
03. MJ Cole – Liquid
04. Little Dragon – Lover Chanting (Jayda G Remix)
05. Mosca – Oral Us
06. RD – I Don’t Dance I Make Money Moves
07. Off The Meds – Karlaplan
08. Mount Kimbie – Carbonated
09. Mount Liberation Unlimited – Blue (Is the Color of our Future)
10. Everything Is Recorded & Flohio – 02:56am – I Don’t Want This Feeling to Stop
11. Call Super & Parris – Chiseler’s Rush
12. Laurence Guy – The One Where I Like The Vocals
13. Bella Boo – Unreleased
14. Carli – Lights & Strobes (Petter’s Trance Dawn Rescue Mix)
15. Bella Boo – Stars (Kornél Kovács Remix)