Interview conducted by Hervé Jouanneau
1. What can you tell us about your upcoming album “This train” ? How long did it take you to record it and why has it taken so long to release?
This Train is a record with a lot of soul and it covers a lot of ground. It’s sensual, erotic, spiritual, wistful, hopeful, and at times melancholy. It took more than a decade to make. There are pragmatic reasons it was a lengthy process, but ultimately I believe that every record has it’s own karma and timeline. In the years of my life that passed as This Train was being made, I experienced the passage of girlhood to womanhood, child to adult. I think in the grand scheme of things that was important. The content of the record reflects the realness of life and some things can only be known through the passing of time.
I think I had to live a little before I could truly represent it.
2. The first title was “Strange darling”. Why did you change it ?
This Train has always been the name of this record. Strange Darling was a different record completely. It was an idea that David had as we were chatting in his painting studio one morning when I was visiting. I was singing him an old standard I loved called “Guilty’. He said I should make a record of covers, and that I could do it in his studio. He helped me make it happen and the project took many years to finish. This record of covers, called Strange Darling, is on it’s own timeline as well. It’s time for release has not yet come. Some day.
3. Who are some of your musical influences?
A few singers that I believe have influenced my personal vocal style are Annie Lennox, Julie London, Alison Goldfrapp and Joan Osborne.
4. David Lynch is credited as the producer of this album. What was his role in this project and what was it like working together on it ?
David was the captain of this ship. He wrote all the music, played guitar and drums on many of the songs and collaborated on arrangements (chord progressions) with Dean Hurley for the majority of the record and with John Neff for three songs. David produced the tracks when I wasn’t at his studio, and then played them for me on my visits. He would play the track a few times so I could get familiar with it and then present me with lyrics he had written. After some discussion about the tone and mood he wanted me to convey with my voice and performance, I would enter the vocal booth and improvise melodies over the music using the lyrics he had given me. I sang the song over and over until I had composed a melody that he liked and considered right for the track. It was a process that worked quite well for us. Of course it varied somewhat from song to song, but generally we stuck with that formula. David is obviously a masterful director, and he always knew precisely how to draw out the performance he was looking for. He was infinitely patient, completely aware of my emotions and conscious of how to make me feel most at ease and appreciated. This is so important with a singer. Our voices can betray everything we are feeling. David could get me in the zone with a few words. Even after all these years, it is a thrill and a joy to create with him. The performances he gets from me show colors and inflections in my voice that I don’t know if I ever would have discovered without him. New colors in my crayon box! This is a very significant thing for a vocalist. I am incredibly grateful to him.
5. You already worked with him on “Inland empire” with a very impressive song, “Polish poem”. Can you tell us when and how you get involved with him ?
Thank you! I am very proud of Polish Poem. I met David many years ago though the same agent that introduced him to Rebekah del Rio. His name is Brian Loucks. Brian knew that David was interested in singers and making music and had a feeling that David and I would hit it off. Thankfully, we did. David and I wrote our first song together the day we met. It’s called “Right Down to You” and it’s now the second track on the record.
6. Were you a fan of his work prior to meeting with him?
I was a huge fan of Twin Peaks as a girl. It was my favorite show. The theme song had a remarkable effect on my developing musical sensibilities. It had this quality I found absolutely intoxicating and no other music had ever made me feel that way.
7. What is your favorite David Lynch film?
Ah, the hard hitting questions! Do you prefer dark chocolate, red wine or coffee? I prefer all three! You’ll have to settle for my top three. Lost Highway, Wild at Heart and INLAND EMPIRE.
8. Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grew up, and when did you first got into music ?
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, where my mother Sunny and my stepfather Mitchell owned and managed Emerald Recording Studios. My mom is a singer and always nurtured my passion for music and singing. I was very fortunate to have parents that understood and encouraged my desire to be a musician. I was singing jingles as early as age eleven and played in my first rock n roll band at seventeen. I’ve been the front person in many bands along the way, in numerous genres. It’s always been music for me. Nothing fulfils me like creating and performing music.
9. What other projects do you have coming up ?
I am in a band called Black Book Angel that is developing the live presentation of my work with David. We’ve written some great original material as well that I look forward to sharing with everyone when the time comes. Soon.
10. Will there be any music videos released to accompany the album? Any concerts ?
Dutch Rall, my creative partner in Black Book Angel is also a filmmaker, and he has directed a video for the song Real Love. He also filmed ‘Making of’, which is a behind-the-scenes look into the creative process between David and myself. A very gifted filmmaker from Portland, Oregon, named Chel White is doing a video for Bird of Flames, which is a duet between David and me. Chel also created a stunning video for Thom Yorke’s ‘Harrowdown Hill’.
I will be collaborating with other directors as well over the course of this project. There will be a tour to support This Train, details of which are still unfolding…
Interview conducted by Hervé Jouanneau
Be sure to check out the Official Chrysta Bell Website for details on how to order “This Train” available today!