Photography by ELIAS TAHAN (All Rights Reserved)
Lina DAUGIRDAITE: I was completely mesmerized. It was so magical. You have a gift and I’m so grateful that you are sharing it with others!
CHRYSTA BELL: Thank you, Lina. It’s my honor and pleasure to do so. It’s my life purpose, so thank you for receiving it.
LINA: What are your first thoughts when you come off the stage?
CHRYSTA BELL: I mean, every venue is very different. Every feeling is very different. Tonight, because we had had very little sleep and some difficult travel, there was a bit of, like, as we discussed, like a dreamy quality. You know, where everything is kind of just almost real and a little bit unreal, which goes very well with the music, so that’s good! But you are always a bit amazed that you have this opportunity and that you’ve come to this distant land and that there are people there that are interested in your music and want to hear you sing. And you know those are…It’s a feeling of…It’s a mysterious feeling cause I don’t know anything else like it [laughs], but you’re kind of…You are very excited but you’re also, you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know what you will get, once you get there and there’s no turning back. So you’re very much giving yourself to an experience that is a complete mystery. Even after you’ve done the show and come back from it, you don’t always even know how to digest your feelings about it. Because as it’s happening there’s a lot of intensity and emotion and chemistry involved and so you come off stage and you’re like: “Ah, what just happened?!!” and even more so when you don’t have much sleep and you’re traveling a lot and you’re already in a different dimension so… Overall like, I mean, it’s my favorite thing to do in the world, to perform on stage and make connections with people in the audience and have this exchange. This makes me very happy…So… Sometimes it’s amazing, sometimes it has challenges, but it’s always worthwhile.
YOU'RE VERY MUCH GIVING YOURSELF TO AN EXPERIENCE THAT IS A COMPLETE MYSTERY
LINA: This is not your first time in Vilnius, is it?
CHRYSTA BELL: It’s my third time!
LINA: I love how you described the audience here, you said: “it’s like being with your loved ones who know you.”
CHRYSTA BELL: Yeah, it’s true! And this is something…You never know what places hold this for you and it’s very, you know, there’s no rhyme or reason to what culture and what city will respond to you in this way. And sometimes you’re really hoping some city that you’ve romanticized will feel this way to you and that you’re maybe a bit disappointed when that’s not what you get and then you have this other occasion where a city that you maybe weren’t expecting to be so receptive, responsive and in its energy with your performance and your music out of the blue. It surprised you. It’s really sweet. It’s like meeting people, individuals; it’s the same with meeting a city. You know like sometimes you just have a nice chemistry, and it’s ignited and you just have that with you and you’re excited to go back and see the city again, this place again… It’s the same kind of feeling…
LINA: what would you like your audience to know about you?
CHRYSTA BELL: Well…[Laughs] I don’t know!…Because in some ways I think I’m giving the most I have to give with the experience of a performance on stage so I don’t know that there’s necessarily anything else anyone needs to know except for what they feel during the performance and if they have specific questions I’m open…But I think that there’s beauty in mystique and beauty in the mysterious and so…You know, just receiving whatever you get from the show and being complete, this is nice, but I guess I could say that I am doing what I love to do most when we are together in this exchange of performing. It’s really nice for me.
LINA: I find you to be a very inspiring woman. You are very sensual, passionate, there’s this mystery…What does it mean to you to be a woman?
CHRYSTA BELL: Wow… I mean, I think it’s a gift. I think… It feels very natural for me. I think I am naturally very feminine. And I enjoy my body and I enjoy moving sensually. And this makes me happy and it makes me feel fulfilled and there’s not a lot of thought that goes into it. Just to inhabit my femininity fully makes me happy. And I feel like it’s a gift to do that. Because I think being a woman is…It’s kind of the way to go! [laughs] if you can help it… I’m sure being a man is great too…But I am happy in this body and I feel, like it was the right vessel for me to come in and present this music. This was my destiny. I like being a woman. I enjoy all the things that being a woman means. And I like to have all those qualities…[laughs] I mean, it’s the only thing I know but I think it’s my preference.
THESE BODIES ARE SO SPECIAL AND FUN AND POWERFUL
AND SENSUALITY IS A VERY POWERFUL EXPRESSION
LINA: Yes, you seem to be very comfortable in your own sexual skin. And that’s really great! How did you grow… Have you always been so comfortable?
CHRYSTA BELL: I think so, I think it started very young. I had very healthy parental connections. Very nurturing, wonderful, positive parents who didn’t make me feel shameful for being a sensual creature even if I was very young at the time and I think this is very important. I was always encouraged to explore my femininity and be sensual and feminine and there was no strangeness or oppression around it. There was celebration and I think that was very important in my development. As I grew older I never had anything associated with femininity and sensuality except for positivity and fun and pleasure and beauty and this is what I really want to convey as well that these bodies are so special and fun and powerful and that sensuality is a very powerful expression; it doesn’t need anything dark attached to it. It can be simply beautiful and peaceful, and natural.
LINA: How is the Chrysta Bell that we hear in the music or we see on stage performing, different from the “daily” Chrysta Bell?
CHRYSTA BELL: Chrysta Bell on stage is less clumsy. I mean, I think there’s naturally a character that you step into when you go on stage but it’s not like a conscious effort. It’s just like there’s a character that you step into when you go into school or you go into a grocery store you have to facilitate the occasion and to be on stage you are just a bit bigger and more dramatic and more excitable and more responsive and more…Just more YOU. So this is what happens. You can’t really turn it on or turn it off, it just happens, at least for me. I mean, like when I sing, I have to use my hands, I can’t not use my hands, this is like an automatic response.
LINA: I love that, It’s so powerful!
CHRYSTA BELL: [laughs] It just happens… I think my voice is connected to my arms!
LINA: You grew up in a musical family, and you were introduced to music at a very early stage. That’s a wonderful gift from your parents. I wonder though, as an artist, you want to grow your “own voice”. Have you ever had challenges to find it?
CHRYSTA BELL: [laughs] yeah constant challenges! I mean, I think that’s part of it, that’s part of the beauty. You have to really really want to do this. It’s not easy. It’s not a sure thing. It’s never a sure thing. It’s always a big question mark. And even if it seems things are going well and things are going beautifully it’s always on trial, so you have to give all that you have to it and be constantly looking for the next part of the journey and be aware that, if you are able to continue to do this, it’s a gift, every step of the way…And so yeah there’s always challenges finding your voice, finding your way, finding your place in the world of music, but that’s why it’s so wonderful [laughs]. You know if it was simple, maybe it wouldn’t be so meaningful and fulfilling, but it’s all I want to do and I’ll do it until I can’t do it anymore [laughs]. This is my blessing and my curse. It’s my, I don’t know, I think it’s my destiny.
LINA: Let’s talk a bit about David Lynch and your collaboration with him. You must remember the time when you were creating the first ever song together. What was going on in your head at that moment?
CHRYSTA BELL: I mean, I was very nervous and very excited, very hopeful, and very curious how it would go and what would happen and if we would have magic. Because you don’t know… And you have a lot of opportunities to create with different composers, producers, collaborators and it doesn’t always go well. You don’t always strike gold, so to speak, as David would say. So when David and I wrote a beautiful song the day that we met, we were both really excited. And since then it’s been, you know, 16-17 years and we’ve kept this excitement and we still do it and we still create together and you know, yeah…I was very nervous that first day and now that is replaced with just gratitude.
BESIDES BIRTH IT'S THE MOST NATURAL THING.
IT'S GOING TO HAPPEN TO EVERYONE AND YET NOBODY WANTS TO TALK ABOUT IT.
LINA: And what have you learnt from David Lynch?
CHRYSTA BELL: I mean, there’s not enough time [laughs] to share all of that! I’ve learnt what it looks like to be a true artist and what that means to someone who has so many mediums of art in which they create and he is very inspired. I mean, countless types of art: painting, poetry, puppet making, wood working, printing, obviously script-writing, directing, music, you know… He does everything. It’s very inspiring to see someone so creative and so I’ve learnt a lot from watching an artist at work be dedicated to all the inspiration that comes to him. It’s very nice…
LINA: I read that you are practicing transcendental meditation…?
CHRYSTA BELL: Yes.
LINA: What has it brought to your life?
CHRYSTA BELL: Deeper sense of wellbeing. It’s like a secret weapon to use if you ever have stress or anxiety or unease… You always have this super precious tool that you can use that takes you into a really…Hmm…Enlivened and much more at ease place. So this is very helpful [laughs] this is like…This is amazing! And if you do it every day you just have that sense that infuses deeper and deeper into your daily life. Just a sense of sweetness and of a connection to everything. So you feel enlivened and creative, because there’s this loveliness that you have this connection to everything…And that feels really nice! I give it big thumbs up! [laughs]
LINA: It must have affected your creative life as well?
CHRYSTA BELL: Yes, because when you have less stress, less anxiety you want to be more creative.
LINA: Are there any causes that are particularly dear to you?
CHRYSTA BELL: Aside from transcendental meditation, I want to bring awareness around end-of-life rituals, and end-of-life practices. I think this should be a bigger part of a conversation for our culture, because it’s something that we don’t talk about and it’s a beautiful, perfect process. There’s a lot of tension and resistance around it. And my other business in Texas is a natural burial cemetery. So this is my other thing that I do and that my life is dedicated to. So awareness around end-of-life practices and rituals and bringing it more into the daily-life conversation and not having so much fear and restriction around it.
LINA: this is very interesting and so true – we are so fearful but it’s such a natural thing.
CHRYSTA BELL: Besides birth it’s the most natural thing. It’s going to happen to everyone and yet nobody wants to talk about it. But it’s a transformation, it’s a perfect part of the cycle and I want to talk about it more.
IT'S JUST TAKING A DEEP BREATH AND
ALLOWING THE PROCESS TO UNFOLD WITHOUT TRYING TO CONTROL IT
LINA: Do you believe in luck?
CHRYSTA BELL: I guess that depends on your definition of luck. I believe in destiny. I believe in patience, because that’s been the key to my luck. It’s just taking a deep breath and allowing the process to unfold without trying to control it. And this is easier said than done, but when you can surrender to the process and not have to know what’s happening, but be at peace in the mystery this is the best way to go; hardest way to go, but the most effective way to see ongoing success and fulfillment, I believe.
LINA: It’s desire without attachment, right?
CHRYSTA BELL: Hmm, that’s a good one, yeah! That’s exactly what it is - desire without attachment.