Interview: Paul Bell

Jun 07 2024

Paul Bell talks to Louder Than The Music about his first set of worship songs, called 'Arrows', and what inspires his music.

For those who haven't heard of you before, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in making music?

I'm a husband, dad, foster carer, worship leader, songwriter, musician, middle-aged cyclist. I got my first guitar aged 5 and a half, and started writing songs soon after. For a while I did studio sessions which taught me a lot about how music and production works. I made my first album of my own songs in 2006, and over the next 15 years I made 5 albums of singer-songwriter music (one of them in Sweden), a Christmas EP, an instrumental EP of hymns. I did a whole bunch of gigs at places like Spring Harvest, Big Church Day Out, Greenbelt, New Wine, Keswick Convention, two tours across Scotland with Tearfund. So grateful for all the opportunities to make music over the years.

Tell us about your new album 'Arrows' and what the inspiration behind it was?

I've always been a passionate worshipper, and a worship leader in my local church, but I'd always held back from trying to write worship music until a few years ago, leaving it to others. Even before the lockdowns of a few years ago I'd been starting to feel like it was maybe time to try and write some songs TO God, rather than just ABOUT God. Then when the world seemed to slow down for a few months and all the gigs stopped, I had more time to write and reflect. I started to go for long bike rides which really helped me to connect to God - it might have something to do with the beauty of creation, but also the fact that I can't go on my phone while I'm riding my bike might be something to do with it...

If you had to pick a favourite track on the album, what would it be and why?

That's a tough one... depends what day you ask me. Heaven High is big, anthemic worship song, which I love to sing, but maybe my favourite if I had to pick would be "Worth it all". Just a simple song of devotion. It just says something I want to express to God.

What message would you like people to take from your music?

I love the idea that people would take these words and make them their prayers of worship and praise to God. I wrote these songs with specific moments in mind - calling on the Holy Spirit to fall, to stir up faith in a room, to express our devotion and surrender, so I'd love it if those things resonate with others.

How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?

I love so many different kinds of music. Folky songwriters, quirky pop production, some jazz, modern worship. For this project, I wanted to make it quite accessible/singable, so it all starts an acoustic guitar, but with layers of electrics and synths, and big drums.

If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?

I think Matt Redman - I just love the depth of the songs he writes. Always something fresh lyrically and carries it all with such humility.

How would you define success in your career as an artist?

Success is to be able to keep making music and sharing it, and having it mean something to someone.

What is your favourite album of all time?

Flags by Brooke Fraser. So many great songs.

You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your phone. What track is it?

Pat Metheny - Travels (Trio version). Just beautiful.

What does the next year hold for you?

I'm already collecting song ideas for the next project. I'll also be travelling to play some worship nights around the UK in the autumn.

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