by Matteo Marino
DECEMBER 15, 2016
italian version here
Chrysta Bell is her first name and full professional moniker. We saw her for a second in the first Twin Peaks behind-the-scenes featurette, and she charmed us. Since INLAND EMPIRE‘s Polish Poem, she is David Lynch’s musical muse. Their collaboration gave us the critically acclaimed album This Train in 2011 and now an EP of new material, Somewhere in the Nowhere. Her role in the highly anticipated new Twin Peaks series on Showtime is still a mystery (as everybody’s role) and her gig at Naples in October was too dreamy.
Ciao, Chrysta! The first article of davidlynch.it (entitled “Do not sit too close to the TV”) was about my first encounter with the work of David Lynch, the precise moment when I fell in love with his world. I invited readers to tell me about their own “first moment” and now there is an amazing collection of their stories and feelings. So, first of all, I ask you: how did you meet David Lynch’s work for the first time? How did you feel about it?
My first encounter with David’s work was through the original airing of Twin Peaks, and though I was too young to catch the nuances and perceive the sophistication of the show, I was enthralled with the way the music and the imagery conspired to create a stirring inside of my little body. I was hooked from the first few measures of the music with the opening imagery of the show. It was an awakening of sorts to the power of what imagery and music can do beyond simply entertain.
In a very touching video (in “Twin Peaks Definitive Gold Box Edition”) Angelo Badalamenti describes the way Laura’s Theme took life. On one side there was Lynch describing his feelings to Angelo, and Angelo at the piano translated them into music. Every song has different origins, I guess, but could you please tell us how you work with Lynch? How your worlds collide?
When we wrote our first song, our process was born and it has changed very little in the 16 years we have been creating together. David shares a track or a musical idea—it can be a new idea, or something he’s been sitting on for a while. If I relate with it and feel melodies coming as we listen together, we know it’s something we want to explore togther. He goes downstairs to get some lyrics, poetry, writings of some kind. Sometimes he already has something lyrically in mind that he wants to experiment with on a specific track, and other occasions he starts writing lyrics on the spot. From there, I go to the vocal booth to start improvising melodies using the lyrics and doing my best to come up with verses and choruses that evoke the mood we are hoping to convey.
As you know, Lynch loves abstractions. Do you love them too?
I can certainly relate to the appeal of abstractions and the power when they are used artfully in story telling.
Italian fans are very excited about your presence in the cast of the new Twin Peaks. When they saw you in the first behind-the-scenes many of them told me “I fell in love with her”. I know you can’t tell us a word, but, speaking in the abstract, what could we expect?
Thank you for sharing those positive messages! I am ecstatic to be a part of the show and I truly believe it’s is going to be a remarkable, historic and exceptional offering to the world of story telling. I also believe it woll have a significant and perhaps astounding effect on pop culture.
Did you meet Julee Cruise or other singers on the set?
I did not. I have had the pleasure to perform at events with Rebekah Del Rio and Sky Ferreira on other occasions.
Suppose you can choose to be a male character and a female character of the original Twin Peaks. Who are you?
Dale Cooper and Donna Hayward.
Which musicians and performers inspired you?
Marvin Gaye, Annie Lennox, Fiona Apple, Otis Redding, Frank Ocean, Nina Simone, Prince, Astor Piazzolla, FKA Twigs, Rhye
How much important is singing live for you?
It’s pretty much my favorite thing to do in the entire world.
All The Things for me is already a classic. It moves me in every aspect: the music, the performance, the lyrics. Could you tell us something more about this song?
All The Things was recorded around 8 years ago and was intended to be in This Train. But David decided against it when we were putting all the songs together for the album. I knew the song would have it’s moment because it was very powerful. It was essentially the first track for the EP Somewhere in the Nowhere and the first song from the EP to get a music video.
All The Things video was filmed in Naples, in the same place you had a concert in October. A coincidence or the sign of a special connection with this town?
I definitely have a connection to Naples in a number of ways. The city itself has a good feeling for me and I feel a personal connection to it. Like you would to an old friend. Also I have a personal connection to Made In Cloister, the very special venue where both the music video was shot and the performance was given. This space feels like a vortex of artistic energy and is managed by very intelligent and interesting people who want to create a sophisticated and innovative ongoing community of artists there. And the physical space itself is decadent and mystical; there are original frescoes on the walls still being uncovered during the rehabilitation. Overall Naples holds something unusual and beautiful for me. Surely some past lives have been spent here.
Somewhere in Nowhere: getting lost is wonderful or frightening?
Talking about your new album produced by John Parish. Should we expect find the same sensual and elegant atmosphere of This Train and the last EP?
The new album is sensual and elegant, but this music approaches those attributes from different angles than the music I make with David. There are different instruments incorporated into the new record, like trumpet, organ, piano and violin. It’s soulful, dramatic and cosmic like the ones with David, but the overall tone is different. I am hoping the fans will go willingly with me in this new direction. It’s a different planet of music but in the same galaxy as This Train and Somewhere in the Nowhere.
Thank you, Chrysta Bell. The italian fans are waiting for your next gig!
top picture by ELIAS TAHAN
Official Site: www.chrystabell.com