DIY Spotlight: Ariel Bellvalaire

Pop-rocker Ariel Bellvalaire started playing guitar when she was 12, obsessed with Canadian songstress Avril Lavigne. She’s come a long way since then, but the Avril influence remains.

“The guitar work is much better than when I started at 12,” she says. “It still has that Avril Lavigne, punk rock, pop flavor to it. Heavy guitar-driven, but still pop melodies. I’ve had people tell me it’s like Avril Lavigne with a hint of Van Halen, which makes me so happy.”

Now, Bellvalaire has been in the music game for 17 years, and she’s loving every minute of it. A highlight came when she performed in a Broadway show honoring Prince.

“All the stars from Broadway came together and put on a tribute to Prince, so we did the Purple Rain movie,” she says. “We had one of the actors from Wicked playing Prince, we had the lead actress from Hedwig and the Angry Inch playing Apollonia, and I was Wendy [Melvoin].”

You may also have seen Bellvalaire on TV without knowing it; she was a guitar playing hamster on a Kia commercial.

“That was probably the coolest film thing I’ve done,” she says. “They wanted somebody under 5’1” who could fit into the hamster costume and play guitar.”

Bellvalaire’s latest single is “Diamonds or Coal,” about back-and-forth relationships.

“The chorus starts out like ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’,” she says. “The diamonds or coal theme is like, are we going to shine like diamonds, or going to end, are we coal? There’s a little bit of playfulness in the music. But we have a little bit of a ska vibe in parts of it. One of my other big influences was No Doubt. And of course it has an awesome guitar solo because every pop song needs a guitar solo.”

Seventeen years in music means Bellvalaire has certainly subscribed to the DIY work ethic.

“[It means] everything you need to be your own artist—your own sound and influences,” she says. “Exactly what you want to portray to the audience. For me, it would be pop-rock with guitar solos.”

Visit arielbellvalaire.com for more.