By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Pasadena Weekly Executive Editor
Ella Beyer’s personality, clothing and songwriting make a statement.
The 18-year-old Pasadena resident reflects her belief that she’s an “old soul.”
So, when her photographer, Emily Ulmer, asked her to try on an oversized black jacket for a shoot to promote her new single, “Hellbent High School,” she was a little apprehensive. It didn’t quite show her style.
“I wanted a photo that fit the vibe of the song and my style,” Beyer said. “I had all these outfits with me in the car. We stopped by this dingy alley behind a toy store.
“Emily brought this oversized black coat that was way too big on me. I put it on me, she laid in the middle of the alleyway and looked up at me. With the clouds and the telephone line, it looked great. We didn’t even plan that.”
“Hellbent High School” reflects Beyer’s abilities to balance high school and teenage life, as well as her sweet charm and style.
“I’m so excited for this one,” Beyer said. “This song relates to so much that I’m going through right now. I’ve graduated from high school, which is super scary. This song is about just trying to find your true, authentic self.”
Like her previous singles, “Hellbent High School” was released by her Philadelphia-based record label, Winding Way Records.
“They’re super supportive and have given me great advice and promotion tactics,” she said. “I’m just so grateful to have that backbone.”
Beyer is the progeny of her dad, Dave Beyer, a professional touring drummer for Christopher Cross, Melissa Etheridge and Wilson Phillips, and her mom, singer-songwriter Debra Davis.
“I grew up going to their shows and just being inspired by the way the music made the crowd feel,” she said. “I love seeing people singing along with the words and connecting with it. I wanted to create something that people could relate to and connect with. That’s how I got into it. I was surrounded by it in my house.”
While attending California School for the Arts, she took songwriting and singing classes, making for a well-rounded arts education.
“I love being around these different collaborators,” she said. “Everyone is an artist at the school.”
When she’s not writing music or studying, Beyer uses her talent in partnership with the Dragon Kim Foundation, where she volunteers with Fostering the Arts. Her unique ability to mix her original works with covers of well-loved songs is a perfect fit for the program, which works to expose kids in the foster care system to opportunities in the arts.
“Fostering the Arts provides music and performing arts classes to kids in the foster care system,” said Beyer, who founded Fostering the Arts with classmate Leilani Rodriguez. “We worked with one facility in Pasadena and others Downtown.
“We started it through the Dragon Kim Foundation, which is a great nonprofit organization that provides high schoolers with money to help their community and what they’re passionate about. We started it during the pandemic because we didn’t know it would be a pandemic. When the pandemic (hit), we started these interactive videos, which we can send anywhere with a single link.”
Beyer recited statistics from the top of her head: There are 37,000 foster youths in Los Angeles and Orange counties who don’t have access to the arts. Beyer and Rodriguez took arts classes, so they wanted to give the less fortunate the same chance,
“It’s a vulnerable time, especially growing up,” she said.
That’s Beyer’s style. Her bubbly optimism shines through her music and her volunteer work.
Beyer is planning to attend the Los Angeles College of Music in Pasadena and then the Berklee College of Music in Boston. At both schools, she’ll study songwriting.
“I’m going to, of course, continue my passion through college,” she said. “I want to grow and make more connections and learn as much as possible. I want to be a singer-songwriter/recording artist. I want to keep doing what I’m doing right now.”