The Full Blossoming of a Blue Rose
In her fourth studio album singer Chrysta Bell is exploring new territories, moving away from ethereal dream pop into a modern revision of punk, new wave and psychedelic rock. Her new record “Feels Like Love” will be released on 5 April. Her European tour will open in Varese, Italy, on 28 March at Cantine Coopuf. It is an opportunity for her Italian fans to appreciate the evolution from her previous releases.
There is definitely something new in the air. In my opinion, Feels Like Love is a milestone that will affirm Chrysta Bell’s songwriting and her wide range of vocal interpretation at a planetary level. She has reached full maturity, thanks to a more daring approach to making music, and represents the perfect combination of her performance and the contribution of her studio musicians.
From the guitar solos of Tonight We Rise to the romantic pop noir of Time Never Dies, Chrysta Bell has finally found her independence as an artist. These songs are different from her previous collaborations with filmmaker David Lynch in “This Train,” an album where Lynchian obsessions such as space-time dimensions, dream, transcendental meditation and electricity were predominant.
Songs like 52 Hz in her new album don’t owe anything to anyone. They are expression of a mature personality. 52 Hz is dedicated to the world’s loneliest whale that sings at a frequency nobody else can understand. It may sound like an environmentalist song similar to Lou Reed’s Last American Whale, but it isn’t. It’s more mysterious than that. It gets even eerier with Blue Rose where the influence of her mentor Lynch merges with Chrysta Bell’s sensibility. A blue rose does not occur in nature. It is not a natural thing. In Tibetan mythology it is called a tulpa, an object that can only be visualized through meditation.
It is not a coincidence that actress Chrysta Bell plays the role of FBI agent Tamara Preston in the third series Twin Peaks: The Return as part of the Blue Rose team — a secret task force in charge of investigating paranormal activities. In other words, events that normally are labelled as unnatural, just as blue roses are not supposed — in theory — to exist in nature. Tammy Preston goes checking out the reports and digs up the dirt in Twin Peaks, only to realize that this place attracts her like a magnet. A place where “you can check out any time you like / but you can never leave,” like in the Eagles’ song.
Chrysta Bell, first of all let me tell you that I consider “Feels Like Love” to be nothing short of a masterpiece in its own genre. In the past you’ve compared making music to tracking a wild animal. Do you think the wild animal has been tamed with your new album?
I truly love this question and I appreciate that you feel this way about the record. I am extremely proud of this music. In keeping alignment with this simile, I do not feel as if the wild animal has been tamed, but more that I have been given the gift of bearing more intimate witness of it’s true nature, so that I may more deeply understand, appreciate and marvel over the complexities and grace of the creature.
I am not a musician myself and may have omitted some information regarding your new sound in my introduction. Is there anything you would like to add regarding the musical aspect?
The new music is more terrestrial in contrast to the astral qualities of my previous records. These songs are still dreamy, but the dream is more visceral. There’s exploration into genres I have not approached before, like post punk, new wave, and even disco. And we even traverse into territories that one might even use the term psychedelic to describe. It’s a new world for me but somehow, thankfully, by some miracle perhaps, the transition is seamless.
In Italy we are proud of the fact that on 28 September 2014 David Lynch chose the Lucca Film Festival to announce that there would be a new series of Twin Peaks episodes. You are now opening your European tour in Varese. Is there a special connection between you and Italy?
I like to think this is the case. And of course it’s possible it’s all in my head! I do feel a love affair with the Italian Culture. Italy is the country in which I have performed the most on Earth since releasing my first album with David in 2011, This Train. The nature of the Italian sensibility seems to resonate with me and my music, and the feeling is utterly mutual. I feel my band eats the best, is treated the best, is appreciated the most, in Italy, over all other countries. I love the venues we play in Italy and I love the audience responses. Our performances in Italy are consistently some of the most artistically and soulfully satisfying of any that we do. So yes, I feel a connection with Italy. It Feels Like Love…
In “Twin Peaks The Final Dossier”, a book written by Mark Frost (co-author of the TV series), your character Tammy Preston asks herself: “To identify root causes of human misery and evil, do we first have to find them in ourselves?” In order to understand what’s going on she needs to enlarge her frame of reference. Is this kind of attitude something you identify with in your personal approach to life?
I have learned a lot from Tammy and her insights have influenced my life. She approaches life with more of a scientific and academic perspective, even when the subjects she is investigating are more philosophical, paranormal and ethereal. She’s looking for answers, I am seeking acceptance and growth. I do think it’s important to go as deep as I can internally, but for me personally as an artist and a human, the quest for misery and evil within myself is not necessary to find empathy and those aspects may not be a part of my own karmic destiny to experience at this time. The true acceptance of what I find on my inner explorations is what is powerful to me, and utilizing that inner knowledge and awareness to expand and grow towards the ultimate destination of Enlightenment, no matter how far off that destination may be. To love and accept my nature as it is revealed, without judgement, is my quest. The tool I use is Transcendental Meditation for this process.
Are there any major artists that have influenced you? Somewhere, somehow I couldn’t help thinking about Nick Cave. Was I mistaken? At the same time I had the impression you’ve cut the umbilical chord from your mentors and found your own voice…
There are so many major artists that have inspired me. Some that come to mind are Marvin Gaye, Peggy Lee, Maria Callas, Nina Simone, Prince, Annie Lennox, Sade, Siouxsie Sioux, St. Vincent, David Bowie and yes, Nick Cave as well! All of these influences and so many more have been a part of my musical and artistic identity in some form or another…
On a lighter tone, what do you do when you’re not playing music or acting or modeling? What are your interests/hobbies?
You mean in my free time? Trying to remember what that was like! I love to draw and write letters (with a pen and paper!) to send to my loved ones. I love to dance. I love to read novels.