You can sit and dwell on the things that plague your life, letting it consume you, or you can take it and transform that pain into something beautiful. Dark pop artist Crystal Joilena did just that. While most may recognize her hauntingly beautiful voice from her work with Motionless In White on the track “Eternally Yours” from their Motion Picture Collection EP, she’s so much more than that. Her brand-new EP, Numb Until Further Notice, is like taking a peek into her diary and experiencing her own personal journey. Everything from facing your own demons, toxic relationships, her battles with mental health and finding your strength. It’s all there on these four tracks for all the world to see. Recently, we got the chance to discuss her latest work, the inspiration behind it, and what’s next.
For starters, tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
CRYSTAL: I’m 26 and I live in Queens, New York. I am also Australian, because my mother was born and lives over there along with the rest of that side of my family, I usually go there to visit them once a year, so it’s like living in two places.
I’ve been a solo artist for about five years now and I have been around music for most of my life, and musical theatre is what played a major role in what made me want to pursue a career in music. Growing up, I was involved in a few metal bands that didn’t end up going anywhere, so one day I decided to just start doing it on my own, and that was the best decision I ever made and what made me flourish. I don’t really fit in any one genre because I kind of just decide to base my art on what I feel like doing and the certain kind of feeling it needs, just whatever comes to mind.
What artists, if any, would you say you are influenced by?
CRYSTAL: Some of the top artists I am mainly influenced by are Sarah Brightman, Björk, Garbage, Motionless In White, Depeche Mode, The Weeknd and Bring Me The Horizon.
When you sat down to create your latest EP, where did you draw your inspiration from?
CRYSTAL: Definitely the pandemic, a past relationship, letting go of the past, success in music, my love of history and mythology and how much all of the chaos of 2020 completely changed me as a person. All of those things combined together gave me the utmost inspiration for Numb Until Further Notice.
You’ve always been so candid with your music, was it hard to expose yourself so deeply with this new content?
CRYSTAL: In the midst of writing and recording that EP, my life was going through a stage where things were constantly up and down. I would feel on top of the world some days and the next day, I would feel like I was at the worst possible place mentally. It was a cathartic experience and I had to just keep writing and keep recording, no matter how terrible I felt, I had to keep going. I wasn’t happy with a lot of my older music, and I felt it didn’t properly represent me as an artist or up to par with the expectations I had for myself, so I needed more outer inspiration. I was very happy with the EP and with everything in me, I plan to keep going up from here.
If you had to choose, which track would you say was the most meaningful to you and why?
CRYSTAL: Definitely "Siren"! I heavily enjoyed expressing my emotions on that one, the vocal styles I chose and I was seriously blown away by the production. I loved everything about it and it will definitely remain one of my favorite tracks.
You got to work with Jolly from Bad Omens on “Siren”, what was that collaboration like?
CRYSTAL: I’ve actually wanted to work with him for a few years since meeting him but I wasn’t sure where to start and it was kind of a spur of the moment thing. I just [messaged] him one night and told him I felt the guitar track I had already recorded over needed a lot more production and a different kind of feeling in post-production. He was the first person who came to mind because their music has always been top-tier and some of the best I’ve heard, especially other artists I’ve also heard that he has produced, it’s always fantastic! The collaboration went really well and I love him as a person, he is always so positive and that’s super important, there is way too much negativity in the world and we need more people like that! We are actively working together now on original stuff he has written, there is also one new song that is almost finished, and will be released after New Year’s, I’m most excited about that one!
Since “Siren” was one of the first tracks you’ve ever screamed on, how did that play out? Was it something you had to work up to or was it more of a hidden talent you were waiting to unleash?
CRYSTAL: I just really wanted to record something heavy and just lose it and get all of the bottled-up anger out, and that track called for it. I’ve known how to scream for years, and I just needed the proper heavy track to bring it out of me! There will be a lot of heavy tracks in the future that I’m currently working on.
Aside from your latest release, you’ve also released a few singles, including a few covers. Anything else up your sleeve you want to tease?
CRYSTAL: There will be a surprise towards the end of December! I’m really looking forward to releasing it!
Where can we find you and your music?
CRYSTAL: My music is available on all digital platforms, and I will have a main website and merch soon.
Last question, anything you’re excited about for the future?
CRYSTAL: Too many things to name!
Written & interviewed by Mikayla Anderson
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