Bella Penfold, X Factor contestant chats with Kevin Cooper about being mentored by Simon Cowell, spending time with Robbie Williams, her biggest inspiration, and the forthcoming X Factor UK Tour.

Bella Penfold, a singer from Essex, made her living singing in a hotel before deciding to audition for series fifteen of The X Factor in 2018.

In her first audition, she performed a cover of Joss Stone’s Fell In Love With A Boy which earned her four yes votes from the judges. Making it to the Six Chair Challenge she sang Blinded By Your Grace which moved Simon Cowell so immensely that he pressed his golden buzzer.

Being mentored by Cowell she also made it to the judge’s houses and the live shows but she was voted out of the competition during Big Band week after receiving the lowest number of public votes.

She finished the competition in eighth place and is now about to tour the UK with the other finalists.

Whilst relaxing ahead of rehearsals for the tour, she took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what she had to say.

Hi Bella how are you?

I’m good thank you Kevin, how are you?

I’m very well thank you and before we move on let me thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

Not at all, it’s a pleasure. I really do enjoy it.

And just how is life treating you?

Well I have to be honest with you and say that life at the moment has been amazing. I have had an amazing time for which I am truly grateful. I sometimes sit there and think to myself ‘wow what have I just done’ (laughter). Whenever I am sitting with my family and friends I look around and think ‘what the hell has just happened,’ it all feels like a mad dream (laughter).

Let me congratulate you on making the final eight.

Thank you, that is so kind of you.

I have to ask you, were you disappointed not to have made it through to the final?

Do you know what, I never even expected to get through the first rounds of auditions so I was never going to be disappointed. Obviously you get a little bummed when you are standing there on the stage being told in front of everyone that you are not going to make it through. But with regards to where I came I really was super chuffed because I honestly never even thought that I would make it through to the live shows. My dad said to me “if someone had rang you up and said that you could be a backing singer on The X Factor for one song you would have jumped at the opportunity. You would have been over the moon and telling everyone that you were going to be a backing singer on The X Factor. So how the hell can you feel disappointed when you have actually appeared on the show as an artist and you will be representing yourself on the tour?” My dad is totally right in everything that he says and I am super grateful.

Just what was it like being mentored by the man himself Mr (Simon) Cowell?

It was so good; Simon is such a lovely bloke. I remember being a kid watching The X Factor thinking ‘oh my god Simon Cowell is a bit scary’ but in reality he is such a down to earth kind of guy. You will never believe this but he is really, really nice (laughter).

He’s a nice man with rubbish dress sense but don’t quote me (laughter). I have been looking at a picture of you all and I think that Simon needs at least six inches cutting off the bottom of his jeans (laughter).

(Hysterical laughter) Simon really is so funny. I really do love him, and he is such a nice man.

At the end of the day we all have to remember that first and foremost Simon is a business man.

Yes we do most definitely. Also he is good at his job and he is good at making people be the best version of themselves.

Did you get the chance to spend some time with Robbie (Williams)?

Yes I did but to be fair we all got to spend quite a lot of time with all of the judges. They all interacted with us really well. Robbie is so lovely; he was such a joker. He was always cracking jokes and stuff and we all got to spend time with him which was really nice.

Were you all pleased to see Dalton (Harris) win the competition?

We were all so happy for Dalton but to be honest with you I would have been equally happy for whoever had won. I really would have been chuffed for anyone who went on to win but I am so chuffed for Dalton; I really do think that he deserved it. He has got the most incredible voice too so I really do feel that he was a deserving winner.

What was your highlight of the time that spent on the show?

I would have to say that would most probably have been the time I spent at Judges Houses. It was such an incredible experience, spending time in Los Angeles mingling with all of the celebrities. That really was so cool (laughter).

Whenever you are about to step out onto the stage, how do you control your nerves?

To be honest with you I think that I actually do it for the nerves if that makes any sense at all. I think that it is the nerves that makes this job so special. I have always fancied doing an adrenalin based job, or perhaps become a thrill seeker, like a scuba diver, or a paramedic; for me it is all about that nervous energy. For me it is that which makes this job so enjoyable and actually makes you want to do your job. I actually do get a kick out of being nervous. I try to take those nerves and turn them into something good by saying “I love this so let’s go”.

What made you enter The X Factor?

(Laughter) well my family were always telling me that they wanted me to get an education first but to be honest with you I really was hungry for it, plus I wanted to prove my dad wrong (laughter). I worked bloody hard and got myself some good grades which I slapped down on the table in front of him and said “there you go, there are the good grades that you wanted, now I am off to do music” (laughter). By the time that I was nineteen I hadn’t really done anything music based, I hadn’t performed in any big shows or had any breaks and all of that made me really hungry for success. I decided to go for it and not let it go. I was so excited and I had so much energy, so I entered The X Factor.

What experience do you think The X Factor has given you?

I don’t really know, I have learnt so much from being on the show. If anything I feel like I have found my singing voice a little more since being on the show. I think that being surrounded by singers all of the time I have now learnt how to use my voice properly, and I think for me that was a great experience to learn that from some amazingly talented kids together with some amazingly talented adults. Janice (Robinson) was there who sang Dreamer and it was like ‘wow what an amazing experience being able to meet her’. The whole thing was an experience which I could never describe to people. It was all simply amazing.

Looking back, would you do it all over again?

Yes I would, I really would one hundred percent.

For anyone reading this who is thinking of auditioning for The X Factor what advice would you give to them?

Just go for it even if you think that you will never get through. As I have said I didn’t think that I would ever get through but then look where I ended up (laughter). You have just got to run with it but make sure that you run fast. Don’t go into it half-hearted, you have got to either go for it totally or don’t go for it at all. Let your energy and your passion carry you through. You have got to be prepared to fight for it like you have never fought for anything before and see where it takes you. Who knows it could actually take you all of the way.

Whenever you have any downtime who do you listen to?

I listen to everything (laughter). I listen to everything from Ella Fitzgerald to Stormzy. I really do listen to all different genres and music.

Who has inspired you?

That would have to be my little brother because he looks up to me. So for me to do something really good and amazing with my life means that he will be looking up to me and hopefully he will be striving to do something similar to what I do. The better I am then I hope the better he will be as he grows up and the more he will strive to reach his ambitions.

Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time?

(Laughter) I really would like to see myself releasing an album and touring. I know that it is going to take a hell of a lot of hard work and it may not be five years in fact it could be ten years but you never know. I am only nineteen so hopefully I have still got a few years left in me to try to really break through and perhaps even make it big, who knows.

Are you looking forward to the tour?

I am literally sitting here with a massive smile on my face right now as I am so excited.

The tour starts here in Nottingham at the Motorpoint Arena on Friday 15th February when do you start rehearsals?

Oh my god, that will be sometime in January (laughter).

Have you made any friendships on the show that you can see lasting forever?

Oh yes, everyone, absolutely everyone. The beauty of being on the show is knowing that our paths will cross time and time again. We are all staying in contact a lot already as there are a few of us who don’t live that far away from each other. It’s great.

What was the first record that you bought?

I can’t remember (laughter). Thinking about it that would most probably have been something by Michael Jackson.

Who did you first see performing live?

Please don’t laugh, that was Justin Bieber (laughter). Apparently he had fallen down the stairs so we all listened to the DJ for four hours (laughter).

What was the last song or piece of music that made you cry?

Blimey, I don’t know (laughter). Let me think…oh I know that would have been when they played Loren Allred’s Never Enough to me on The X Factor. That really did bring a tear to my eye. It made me cry when they played that to me.

On that note Bella let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today, it’s been delightful. You take care and I will see you here in Nottingham.

Thank you for talking to me Kevin, you take care and I will see you in Nottingham very soon. We will be coming to you first. You really do have to start with the best. Bye for now.