Like an artwork come to life, Chrysta Bell discusses her inspirations, career, and upcoming fourth studio album.
interviewer GIUSEPPE ATTANASIO @giuseppeattanasioph
photographer and art director CARLO WILLIAM ROSSI @carlowilliamrossi and FABIO MUREDDU @fabio.mureddu
stylist CORINNA FUSCO @choodtsukiji
model CHRYSTA BELL @chrysta_bell
hair and makeup FULVIA TELLONE @fulviatellone @ SIMONE BELLI AGENCY
using PAT McGRATH LABS
special thanks to MARINA CAPPELLINI
View the full story in the December 2018 Issue of Desnudo Italia.
BEING A SINGER-SONGWRITER, model and actress is quite an accomplishment. It’s no easy feat, but Chrysta Bell does it with grace. Being an esteemed judge at the Sintra and Lisbon Film Festival 2018, where the music video for “52 Hz” from her new album will premiere, Chrysta Bell is headed to the studio to complete her upcoming fourth studio album. In the past, Chrysta Bell has worked as a singer-song- writer and actress numerous times with composer and filmmaker David Lynch. Most recently, she appeared on Twin Peaks: The Return and performing at an all-star tribute concert benefitting the David Lynch Foundation live at the Ace Theater in Los Angeles. However, with her upcoming album, Chrysta Bell hopes to delve into the world of noir pop, adding darker tones to her well-known ethereal sound and featuring a vocal and emotional range we haven’t heard in her previous releases. While on her way to the Sintra and Lisbon Film Festival, Chrysta Bell takes time out of her busy schedule to chat with our executive editor Giuseppe Attanasio.
You were very young when you first started singing. Did you ever think you’d be where you are today?
I feel very fortunate that I always knew exactly what I wanted to do in life. There was never a question of my commitment to singing and performing, never a plan B! There was a time around age 18 I thought about pursuing acting full time, but around 2 weeks later I joined a band and never looked back. Music was always my Destiny. I honestly always felt like if I was making music for a living, I was winning at life and I was fulfilled, so I dedicated myself to it. Even through all the trials and tribulations, I have never really considered stopping. The highs are so enriching to my spirit that the challenging parts have helped me grow as a person.
How much do you think you owe to the experience of Twin Peaks? Was it your first time acting?
Every aspect of the experience of Twin Peaks: The Return — from David revealing to me that there “might be a role for me” in it during one of our recording sessions for Somewhere In the Nowhere in 2015 — to this very day as I muse in amazement that it all actually happened, has felt like the greatest unexpected gift. Not only did I learn so much about acting by working alongside powerhouses like Laura Dern and Miguel Ferrer, but I got to see David in a whole new element, and I enjoyed watching him “do his thing” immensely. It was seeing someone do precisely what they were born to do. I care about David so much and seeing this made me really happy.
“I am happiest and most fulfilled when I am making music.”
In my perception, Twin Peaks: The Return has such depth, fortitude and significance it was like it existed already in the Great Beyond, but the cast and crew were the stewards to bring it in to this plane of existence. I won’t try to downplay it, being asked to be a part of it felt like some otherworldly and Divine appointment that I was not at all sure I deserved, and the pressure I felt to make David not regret choosing me was no joke. But at the same time, I had David’s faith that I could do it, and that was even bigger than my fear. It was my first time acting in on a TV show or feature film anywhere close to that magnitude, but David did not see that for one moment as a hinderance. He got the idea that I was Tammy, and that was that.
What did it mean to you on an artistic, professional and spiritual level to meet the great David Lynch?
When I first met David I knew of only a few films of his as I was till quite young. I became deeply affected as the years passed and our friendship grew stronger. I was moved by the genuineness and loveliness of his spirit. After every studio session we had together I felt as if I had not only accomplished creating great art, but I had connected to another person that I truly admired and respected in a way that enlivened my mind and spirit. David has a way about him that is undeniably comforting and sincerely inspiring to be around. He’s the real deal. A consummate artist living the “art life” and his dedication to his craft drips from his every pore. He also has this serenity about him that I believe is due to his decades of daily meditation.
I know you first met Carlo William Rossi in Italy, particularly in my city, Naples. Is it true that you feel a strong bond with it?
I feel a strong bond with both the city of Naples and Carlo himself. Sometimes good feelings are generated between artists even when very little time is spent physically with them. There’s just something already there, nurtured by an unknown thing, but palpable. The same is true for cities and when these feelings happen it’s very special. I felt immediate connection to Naples in this way. I met Carlo on the set of the music video for “All The Things” at Made in Cloister in Naples, which was a truly fantastic and inspiring place to film. Davide De Blasio, director of Fondazione Made in Cloister and dear friend, organized the production and I was introduced in that way to this marvelous city. “All The Things”, from my second album with David called Somewhere In The Nowhere, was perfectly suited for a music video at Made in Cloister, a place teeming with vibrance and decadence, full of secrets and a fertile environment for creating art.
Can you tell us about the experience as judge at Lisbon Sintra Film Festival? How did it start? What did you feel back then?
At this very moment I am on a plane to Lisbon to attend this Festival! I was initially asked to give a presentation of music videos I have made for the songs from my albums with David (including “All The Things” by Italian director Nicolangelo Gelormini). The presentation blossomed into my also being a member of the jury and performing live before a showing of Inland Empire, one of David’s films that features a song he and I wrote together called “Polish Poem”. In addition, during the festival I will be debuting a brand new music video from my new record for the song “52 Hz”, directed by Joseph Skorman. There are many facets to this trip for me I am very much looking forward to the experience.
What is your favourite song of all time? And among the ones you wrote yourself?
Impossible to pick a very favorite of all time! Among my long standing favorites are “Mercy Mercy Me” by Marvin Gaye and “Lover, You Should’ve Come Over” by Jeff Buckley. The favorite song from one of my albums is “Real Love” or “Half Asleep”.
Can you talk us about what inspired you to write your new album?
I am happiest and most fulfilled when I am making music. I think it’s fulfilling partly because it’s such an elusive thing sometimes to write a great song — I’ve compared it before to tracking a wild animal. You can put out your fresh meat and wait all night to catch a glimpse but it doesn’t mean you’ll get it! Or you may not see the animal you hoped for, which may turn out ok too, but everything has to be fluid with making music, at least for me. I can sit down to write a song, but it takes the perfect alignment of things to get something special, and there’s no formula for it. It’s kind of like ideas drop from the sky when it’s time. You just have to be waiting on the ground with open arms. So when enough of these really special and elusive tracks that get my engine going have been written, I do a new record.
“Italy has always welcomed me with open arms, and we’ve had a love affair of sorts, I hope it continues and only grows stronger.”
The upcoming record has some new elements in it my audience has never heard from me. My songwriting partner and I were really inspired by post punk, new wave as well as some psychedelic rock and even dark disco. We explored some serious territory here and I’m honestly pretty ecstatic with the results. We just came out of the recording studio in Austin, Texas, last week, and I feel we really accomplished something pretty great. I have no idea how my fans will react to this new music, but I am hopeful they will find fulfillment in it as well.
Is there going to be a European tour? Perhaps in Italy?
This is still actively unfolding, and highly likely for the spring. Italy has always welcomed me with open arms, and we’ve had a love affair of sorts, I hope it continues and only grows stronger.
Chrysta Bell’s album is scheduled for release in March 2019.