Suicide Moonbeams.” Touched with a preternatural sweetness (“It’s your birthday every day, blow it out, eat the cake”), the song sends off the listener with a loving message of reassurance. “There are those moments when you might feel like you’re alone, but really the access to unity and connection is always there,” says Chrystabell. “It’s about acknowledging that camaraderie with the beings around you, and then taking turns lifting each other up. Because the truth is that there will be times when you’re strong, and times when you need guidance and help—so then the question becomes, how can we all take better care of each other?”
Within the very first moments of her new album Midnight Star, Chrystabell fully transports the listener into a dimension of her own making, a sci-fi fantasia as resplendent and glittering as her mind itself. The most visionary work yet from the Texas-based artist—a hyper-creative polymath whose past endeavors include a series of musical projects with filmmaker/luminary David Lynch and a central role on Twin Peaks: The Return—Midnight Star ultimately casts an indelible spell while radically magnifying our sense of possibility.
Chrystabell’s fifth studio album and debut release for Love Conquered Records, Midnight Star takes its title from its lead character, a beneficent being seeking to save humanity from life on a troubled Earth. “The record is essentially the soundtrack to a glamo-futurist TV show that’s never existed,” explains Chrystabell, who names cult sci-fi films like Liquid Sky among her main touchstones for the project. “Each song is an episode, a different lifetime for Midnight Star until she comes into the full realization of her potentiality. It’s her hero’s journey, and my hope is that it might help others to open up to the divine, the erotic, the absurd, and everything else encapsulated in the work.”
Produced by her longtime collaborator Christopher Smart and recorded at Ice Cream Factory Studio in Austin, Midnight Star embodies an otherworldly sound fitting of its fantastical narrative. In dreaming up the album’s lavishly detailed collision of post-disco and synth-pop and space-age psychedelia, Chrystabell deliberately strayed from the moody urgency of her past work, such as 2019’s Feels Like Love and 2017’s We Dissolve (made with producer John Parish, who’s also worked with the likes of PJ Harvey and Sparklehorse). “This is music that has the quality of flight; this is about lifting up,” says Chrystabell. “We’re moving into the Age of Aquarius, and things are becoming more ethereal right now, and I was feeling that within myself—that it’s time to move like light and air.” At the same time, Midnight Star elegantly spotlights the luminous vocal presence she’s brought to the stage in headlining sold-out tours across the globe over the past decade, once again proving her rare ability to stun and captivate with even the subtlest of expression.
On the album-opening title track, Chrystabell presents a heady introduction to the wildly enchanted world of Midnight Star. Lit up in lush synth lines, mercurial rhythms, and an exquisitely soulful vocal performance from Chrystabell, the shapeshifting epic marks the start of a wide-eyed odyssey into the beyond—one that culminates in enlightened freedom. “Midnight Star in the most realized form is the highest knowing,” Chrystabell reveals. “It’s whoever you are in your imagination when you don’t let limits control you. It’s the purest journey, it’s the superhero in your mind that you would be if there was no one telling you you couldn’t.”
As Midnight Star unfolds, Chrystabell imbues her unearthly storytelling with so much worldly insight, offering up tender instruction for living more ecstatically. On the brightly kinetic “Breathe Into Euphoria,” for instance, she speaks to the blissful ease of surrendering to transformation. “‘Breathe Into Euphoria’ is about breaking down the idea that consciousness awakening has to be challenging,” she says. “You don’t have to muscle your way to awareness; you can let go and dance your way there. Maybe you’re coming from a place of heaviness, but now there’s the chance to shed the limitations that have weighed you down and held you back from that beautiful alignment.”
Elsewhere on Midnight Star, Chrystabell turns her most intimate fascinations into a lens for exploring more sweeping philosophical concerns, such as on the enraptured yet pensive “Love Confit.” Built on a pulsating soundscape partly inspired by the music of Kraftwerk, the bold and breathless track examines the tempestuous nature of desire. “I have this love affair with France, where we flirt but then go our separate ways; it’s tumultuous but there’s a real loveliness to it,” says Chrystabell of the song’s origins. “‘Love Confit’ is my love letter to France and my acknowledgment of our sweet connection, but there’s an element of regret or illusion or missed opportunity. It’s the awareness of your own darkness clouding your access to the love you really want, and then just driving into the unknown with the hope that there might be a next time.”
After drifting through a vast spectrum of atmospheres and moods—the incandescent electro-pop of “2139,” the eerie ambient-goth of “Silent Scream,” a magnificently celestial cover of Psychedelic Furs’ new-wave classic “Love My Way”—Midnight Star closes out with the radiant and revelatory “Suicide Moonbeams.” Touched with a preternatural sweetness (“It’s your birthday every day, blow it out, eat the cake”), the song sends off the listener with a loving message of reassurance. “There are those moments when you might feel like you’re alone, but really the access to unity and connection is always there,” says Chrystabell. “It’s about acknowledging that camaraderie with the beings around you, and then taking turns lifting each other up. Because the truth is that there will be times when you’re strong, and times when you need guidance and help—so then the question becomes, how can we all take better care of each other?”
Throughout Midnight Star, Chrystabell inhabits each track with an unbridled dramatic intensity, a quality she partly attributes to her childhood experience in musical theater as well as her longstanding collaboration with David Lynch (who once remarked that she “has an intuitive ability to catch a mood and ﬁnd a melody that’s really spectacular”). “Something I’ve learned from David is that everything in life is a story, and in every moment we’re acting,” she notes. Having launched her career in the late-’90s with the neo-swing band 8 1/2 Souvenirs, Chrystabell first joined forces with Lynch for a song featured in his 2006 film Inland Empire, and later worked with him on her 2011 album This Train and the 2016 EP Somewhere in the Nowhere. Over the past few years, she’s undergone a full-tilt liberation of her creative spirit, embracing a more potent sense of freedom than she’d ever felt before. “With this project in particular, there was a distinct lack of self-imposed limitation on what was possible,” says Chrystabell. “To a certain degree, I’d always had some idea of how I fit into the world of music—but in order for my art to have real integrity, I had to dismantle those ideas of whatever it was I thought I was supposed to be. Where I am now is so much less fragmented; I feel far more realized as an artist and a person, and that’s where this music was coming from.”
In composing Midnight Star’s enigmatic meditation on rebirth and renewal, Chrystabell drew a great deal of inspiration from another essential aspect of her livelihood: her role as president and official steward of Countryside Memorial Park, a natural-burial cemetery founded by her late father. “What we do is help people return to the earth without the encumbrances associated with the modern death industry, such as embalming and caskets that are toxic for the environment,” says Chrystabell, who often accompanied her mother in singing at memorials and funerals as a child. “It’s allowed me to connect with the sanctity and perfection of that cycle, and given me a visceral awareness of the impermanence and ethereal nature of life that propels me to live more intentionally.”
For Chrystabell, the making of Midnight Star hinged upon a profound creative breakthrough that’s brought her infinitely closer to fulfilling her purpose as an artist. “In a way this work came from my wanting to create something representative of my appreciation for the artists who’ve come before me, whose music has helped me expand my own inner awareness and provided clues to the great mysteries of existence, and also helped me accept the parts that cannot be known,” she says. “Music and meditation have always been the mediums that have given me the most potential to gain access to greater aspects of Self and my understanding of truth with a big ‘T.’ This album is my offering to others, an invitation for a musical adventure that may take them closer to that mystical place. I think it’s an auspicious moment in time for everyone to be seeking and finding that expansion. It’s my wildest dream that Midnight Star can help guide the way.”