Joe and Martina Costa have been playing music together since the days of MySpace, where Martina first found Joe, hoping for some free guitar lessons. They both grew up in the central valley of California and tell us in our recent interview how music had always been important to them growing up. Martina explains that she never dreamed she would grow up to be a singer living in Nashville, she was always interested in and studied agriculture. She started singing karaoke and had such fun that she caught the performing bug and that is when she found Joe on MySpace.
Joe’s dad grew up playing guitar and singing, introducing him to music from an early age. Initially, he played the drums for all different bands in high school including a rock band and a blues band. It was only when he started writing music did he decide he didn’t want the other performers in the band to sing his songs, he wanted to sing them.
While Joe credits the ’60s and ’70s rock bands like The Eagles, Don McLean, and Creedence Clearwater Revival as his influences growing up, Martina’s very first memory was hearing Waylon Jenning’s voice on vinyl and then recalls listening to Janis Joplin, Patsy Cline, and The Judds. As Joe got older he got more into the ’90s country stars like Garth Brooks, George Strait and even into rock bands like Green Day and Blink 182. They both explain how they feel all of their influences are heard in their music today.
Martina tells us the story of how they met and eventually became not only a duo but a couple as well. “It was ten years ago, we were still living in California and we met on myspace,” she explains. “I was trying to hit him up for free guitar lessons, next thing you know we were hanging out and started performing together and kind of fell in love while singing together. The music came first and the chemistry was already there, everyone else saw it way before we did.” Whether it was playing around campfires, family functions or BBQs they would always end up singing together and people thought they were together for years when in reality it had only been a few months.
Shortly after getting married, the duo Terra Bella made the big move to Nashville. We discussed what was missing in the California music scene; “We were basically a west coast band and we just felt like we had done everything we could living there, we were a very busy touring band but we didn’t have a great record, we were writing decent songs but felt like there was something else out there that I could learn from,” Joe explains. After Terra Bella opened for Lee Brice, they had a chance encounter with his production manager who convinced them to go visit Nashville. “After the first day of hanging out in Nashville, we were like ‘we have to move here, there is just something in the air that feels right,’ Martina tells us. “It’s a long drive, we are a long way from family but there was just something about it, it has taken the career places we never thought it could go.”
They are proud of their California roots and proud that artists like Jon Pardi, Brett Young, Devin Dawson, and Cam are also representing their state in country music. Looking ahead to their next EP, they explain that the one word they would use is to describe the new songs is authentic. “We both come from farming and ranching families, my family is out in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by cattle ranches. We strive really hard to represent California in the best way possible and where our roots are firmly planted,” they tell us.
Terra Bella do write songs together, one of the tracks on the EP they co-wrote with two other friends, Joe, however, is a writer on each track. “The rest of the songs I co-wrote with various friends, we feature a lot of female co-writers on this EP which makes me so proud. I love that combination, both perspectives, since we have female and male singers, it rounds it out really cool,” Joe tells us. “There are so many talented female writers and singers in Nashville and we want to do everything that we can to promote them and give us the best music we can have.”
Looking ahead to this summer Terra Bella is so excited to finally be playing a show in New York City at Rockwood Music Hall. They say “We have driven through, we have been to a Yankees game, we’ve stood in Times Square but we have never played and we are over the moon about it because you guys love country music. Just talking about it I’m getting the nervous butterflies.”
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