Leila Bela

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Leila Bela
Native name
ليلى بلا
BornTehran, Iran
OriginAustin, Texas, U.S.
GenresExperimental, avant-garde, noise
Occupation(s)Musician, writer, actress, record producer, film director
Instrumentsdrums, harp, santur, violin, psaltery among other instruments
Years active2002–present
LabelsEllahy Amen Records

Leila Bela (Persian: ليلى بلا‎) (born in Tehran, Iran) is an Iranian-born American avant-garde musician, writer, photographer, actress, multi-instrumentalist, playwright and recording artist from Austin, Texas.


Bela was born in Tehran, Iran to a family of Persian aristocrats. In her teens, she began writing freelance articles about underground music for various local papers. Her first major job was an interview with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails, she had been told by the paper to just cover the show but upon seeing her Trent Reznor introduced himself and offered her an interview and allowed her to use his recorder to record it and she accepted, he later invited her to the opening of the very first Lollapalooza as his guest and reporter. She started her first magazine in 1998 while attending college at The University of Houston where she majored in theatre with a minor in Literature and independent studies in photography and playwriting. She was one of five students chosen out of thousands of people who had submitted plays to study with Edward Albee, an award-winning playwright known for his dark themes. Her Shakespeare audition in her second year at university also landed her in a class taught by master Shakesperean director Sir Peter Hall who chose four people to teach during one semester in Houston. She performed such roles as Natalia in Three Sisters in 2001, Lady Nijo in Top Girls in 2002, Regan in King Lear, Pheobe in As You Like It, and Antigone in Antigone.[1]

Despite her teachers urging her to follow an acting career, Bela decided to start writing a concept album of experimental music after school and soon left the theatre world for music with a theatrical twist. After releasing her first album, which she had recorded at home on a small recorder, she started playing live shows. She joined the supergroup Pigface briefly in 2004 after an invite from bandleader Martin Atkins to play drums with his band after he saw her performance of her music as an opening act for his show.[2]

Bela agreed to play a few shows with them then left the band to pursue her own musical projects. In 2002, Bela launched Ellahy Amen Records, a label based in Paris, France and Austin, Texas for avant-garde musicians.[3]

According to her website, Bela got the idea to start her own label after getting offers from other labels that she wasn't satisfied with, not wanting to be on a male run label and according to an interview with Bela on Persian radio; after Mike Patton sent her an email urging her to pick the label that was the best permanent home for her album and not just a quick fix.

Artists signed to her label have included Bela, eight-year-old singer-songwriter, Maya Bond and Lexion Blacklord (a musician from Switzerland). She is also the creator of a custom-made instrument called a Beltar, which has sympathetic strings and can play either noise or melody. The Beltar can be used both electrically or acoustically. Bela designed it to look like a weapon based on the theory Trey Spruance related to her of how "instruments are the weapons of angels". She is a student of Unity Church teachings and has studied many spiritual paths, she is also very active in the creative realm of Quantum Physics.In 2004, she was invited to play SXSW's music festival to promote her album.[4]

Bela collaborated with Eric Tessmer in 2010 on a Persian folk song called "To Beya" Bela wrote the rearrangement of the song and directed the video that is now being shown on a Persian Film Festival site.[5]

Bela was featured in Dazed Magazine as one of 12 artists who made alternative anthems for Dazed. She created an experimental track for them to stream called Bitten Reformer. The track is a feminist world anthem.


Year Album
2003 Angra Manyu


  1. ^ Dalton, Dixie Ann (2006). "Leila Bela's 'Angra Manyu' takes noise to new heights". Reprint of The Daily Cougar. Retrieved 4 April 2007.
  2. ^ Gray, Christopher (2004). "Austin Chronicle review". Retrieved 4 April 2007.
  3. ^ Marie, Sarah (2008). "A Holiday Blast, Winter wonderland of noise!". The Austinist. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  4. ^ Marie, Sarah (2008). "Merry Everything Xmas, The Austinist". Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  5. ^ Marie, Sarah (2009). "Eric Tessmer Band heats things up, The Austinist". Retrieved 22 February 2010.

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