David Lynch: From Ethereal Music To Transcendental Meditation

David Lynch and chanteuse Chrysta Bell
at the premiere of Inland Empire in 2006.
(Photo courtesy of Chrysta Bell's Facebook page.)

The name David Lynch is synonymous with words like surreal, sinister and serene. That might sound contradictory, but even amid some of his edgy film works like Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks or Mulholland Drive are moments of tranquility either in emotional or musical terms. And outside of his art he is a staunch advocate of Transcendental Meditation, which he has been actively utilizing for the last forty years. Maybe it’s the way he focuses many of his radically different ideas.

I spoke with Lynch recently for New York magazine online about his new solo album Crazy Clown Time, and we also discussed his recent collaboration with singer Chrysta Bell called This Train, his design work in the Parisienne nightclub Silencio and his passionate thoughts about TM. He was in Paris at the time.

How is everything going with Silencio?
I just designed Silencio, I don’t have any stake in it. The word on the street is it’s a great club, and people are really enjoying it.

I’m assuming you’ve been there a few times?
Yeah, I just photographed it last week, and it’s a beautiful club.

You’ve been a filmmaker, musician, painter, furniture designer and photographer. How did any or all of these skills come together when you designed the club?
In a way it was the furniture part, and then a little bit the film part because film takes you to sets or locations where a space is kind of critical for a mood and for certain things to happen. So in designing the look of the club, I was thinking of a beautiful, elegant place that is warm and where people feel good being there. That was the main thing.

Was it inspired by the club of the same name in Mulholland Drive?
Not at all, only the name. That would be a strange club.

You have to two new music releases out now: your first proper solo album and an album that you wrote and produced for Chrysta Bell called This Train.
Her album is beautiful.

Upon first listen, her album is very reminiscent of Julee Cruise because of the slow motion, ethereal pop vibe, but there are obviously distinct elements as well. What lured you to her voice and inspired you to work with her?
I think I met her in 1999, and the first day I met her we did a song that’s on there called “Right Down To You”. Every time she would come to town we would do things. I think she’s got a great voice, she’s beautiful and she’s a killer performer. She just loves being on the stage. She’s got a bright future.

You have been very involved with the David Lynch Foundation and its mission to promote Transcendental Meditation, which is been something that’s been very important in your life. Could you talk about that?
The Foundation raises money to give Transcendental Meditation to any student anywhere in the world who wants it or any school that wants it for the whole school; that means the teachers, staff, students and principal. What has happened now is it has spread out to schools with so much violence that once a week at least an ambulance or police will be called. They get this Transcendental Meditation for a year, and one year later the violence has stopped, the students are happy, grades have gone up, the teachers don’t have any burnout and they love going to school and teaching again. It transforms life.
        Now in the prisons, they have big studies on Transcendental Meditation with the prisoners and guards. There have been studies on the homeless. The homeless are getting so happy, and all these things in them that were driving them to the streets get fixed from the inside. All the torment and stress inside students can only get cleaned up by going underneath that, by transcending, by really experiencing the big self within and experiencing pure consciousness. All that positive stuff is within every human being, you just need a technique to get to it and bring it out.
        Then there are studies with young kids and prostitution, and the traumatic stress they experience — they get this technique and start returning to life. In the post traumatic stress disorder with veterans who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, who can’t sleep and are in torment, they get this technique and get their life back. Their family is so happy. There’s so much suffering, and it’s the experience of the transcendent within that is missing from our lives. Transcendental Meditation gives effortless transcending. It’s an ancient technique brought back by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It’s so enjoyable and bring so many benefits, and people are catching on to this fact, and more and more people are starting to meditate. It’s a real beautiful time.

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