Alternative pop artist and producer CRYSTAL spoke to us about her newest introspective single ‘Break,’ upcoming sophomore EP, assessing life through her music, and more!
Since debuting with her single ‘My Flowers Are Dead’ in 2019, Wellington-based artist CRYSTAL has constantly been on the radar as one of New Zealand’s emerging pop artists. With a knack for penning personal stories into sublime music, CRYSTAL has had her music featured in local television series and in renowned Spotify playlists, and has also performed at well-known music festivals such as Cuba Dupa and Newtown Fest.
She continues to boost her presence, churning out some of her best-received works in the past years with the singles ‘The Chase,’ ‘Expectations Suck’ and ‘Skin,’ among others. Her latest addition, ‘Break,’ personifies the stressful situation she endured, nearing the edge of a breakdown as she struggled to find an apartment with a deadline in sight. “It honestly feels like such a weight off my shoulders to have released ‘Break,’” CRYSTAL explained to us about finally rolling out her track. “I spent months and months preparing for the release, so it’s been super rewarding hearing that friends and even people I don’t know are loving it. The response has definitely been motivational in pushing forward with my next releases.”
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Whether it’s ‘Break’ or her track ‘Perplexed,’ CRYSTAL is not one to shy away from talking about the innate, tender, and vulnerable feelings of living one’s life, growing up, and adulting. In a manner, writing personal, introspective diary entry-type songs is akin to creating a space to break down the many happenings of her life and to assess and make sense of herself and her surroundings. She chimed in, saying, “I’m very analytical and emotional, so writing very honest, detail-oriented lyrics makes me feel the closest to the art I’m making and to who I am as a person.”
Having listeners get a glimpse of her life is “kind of exciting in a way” to her, in the hopes that they get more insight into CRYSTAL’s life and perspective. “I used to be super shy with my music and singing when I was younger, but as I’ve grown into my artist project I can fully stand behind my art with confidence and reassurance that it truly is authentic to who I am.”
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As she builds her repertoire of original music, CRYSTAL realizes she’s inspired by artists who are “super literal and paint everyday life as it is” for lyrical context. Whereas, sonically, she is drawn to artists and producers who incite excitement through the music – be it in the form of automation, sample selection, textures or catchy motifs. “My own music is an accumulation of a lot of different interests and inspirations. I’ve always admired James Blake for his experimentation and ability to accentuate emotion. More recently, I love the work of Oscar Sharah, who is a producer/ artist from Sydney. He’s amazing at merging different genres together and has a great ear for tone and texture.”
CRYSTAL’s influences and ingenuity commingle to spew out a brand of music that’s distinctively her’s, as resonated in her singles as well as her debut EP ‘Garlic Ice Cream.’ Released nearly a year ago, CRYSTAL’s five-tracked EP ‘Garlic Ice Cream’ spawned hits such as ‘The Chase,’ ‘One Dollar Pizza’ and ‘We Feel The Same.’ With her sophomore EP on the horizon, the artist looks back on her previous project proudly. “I’ve definitely grown a lot as a person and as an artist,” she reflects. “Those early songs meant a great deal to my own development as an artist in terms of figuring out how I wanted to sound and what I wanted to say. I produced so much of the EP in the early stages myself, so it was cool to be able to explore and understand myself sonically as well as lyrically early on. I’ll always be grateful for what ‘Garlic Ice Cream’ has taught me.”
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As her impending EP ‘Dead Ends’ arrives on September 29, along with her opening for Wellington-based artist Sofia Machray’s gig next week in Auckland, CRYSTAL boldly steps into her new era. “I’ve been chipping away at the EP for over two years now, so I’m super excited that the release date is near. The EP is an exploration of dead end situations I’ve had to navigate since moving cities and growing up. The tracks detail many of the mundane tasks we all feel and think, while we’re on the grind, trying to chase our dreams which can feel never-ending, and all-consuming at times.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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