When Chrysta Bell was performing at the atmospheric Masonic Lodge at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, David Lynch introduced her on stage.
“David’s introduction of me was a story of two lovers sawing this log together,” she recalls. “[He said] ‘Looking into each other’s eyes, the sawdust rises in a gentle breeze and is caught by the moonlight. And that sawdust is Chrysta Bell.’ Then I had to start singing.”
David Lynch first saw Chrysta Bell sing in 1999 and called her: “The most beautiful alien ever”.
“I took that as the highest compliment,” she tells The Big Issue. “Recently he likened me to a praying mantic, I also thought that was remarkable. I’d always thought if aliens came down, we should have them talk to David as our representative. But I’ve since decided they should talk to an old-growth tree or maybe an octopus and that would be the best representation of Earth.”
The pair hit it off and started collaborating on music, releasing two albums over the last two decades echoing with reverb-drenched guitars, Bell’s ethereal vocals and a mood that is definitely Lynchian.
As a long-term collaborator, who better than Chrysta Bell to explain what the word ‘Lynchian’ actually means?
“There is a feeling that is invoked that the word Lynchian can describe. It is an alchemical process. That otherness, you can sense it unmistakably, but can you describe it? I don’t know why you’d want to.
“This is partly why David is such an extraordinary artist. He has given so much of his life to art and that has infused something in the atmosphere. There is a collective resonance of Lyncianess that’s out there somewhere. Whatever frequency he’s tuned into for his art, it’s a consistent frequency which translates to all mediums.
“The reason series three of Twin Peaks is so Lynchtastic is because it’s the sculptures, the paintings, the music, the writing style, the symbology – all of it together.”
In Twin Peaks: The Return, David Lynch cast Chrysta Bell as FBI Agent Tammy Preston. Preston and Lynch’s character Gordon Cole shared the same real-life mentor/protégé relationship they developed creating music.
“In the studio we’re working one-on-one. On set there’s so many people there but somehow David manages to give you just as much energy. You get that thumbs up and you’re like, I can do anything!”
At the Manchester International Festival, Chrysta Bell is performing and compering three nights of Lynch-inspired concerts involving the likes of Ana Calvi, Douglas Dare, Whyte Horses and These New Puritans who have reimagined compositions from Lynch’s films.
“We decided to deep dive into that realm,” says Chrysta Bell. “This is the perfect opportunity to unleash the Lynch so that’s what we will be doing.
“I live for the live performances. I love to look into people’s eyes, I love to create slightly awkward moments of holding the gaze too long… I live for it, I love it. I give all that I have. If I’m going to come all the way to Manchester I’m going to give you all I’ve got… I’ll have a good time, anyway.”
Anna Calvi, These New Puritans, Oliver Coates, Douglas Dare, Whyte Horses, Hatis Noit and Chrysta Bell are all performing as part of David Lynch Presents: Music, a three-night music series at HOME running from 12–14 July. For more visit chrystabell.com