JBL Emerging Interview: Chrxstal Sarah on Gaia's Children & mother earth

In this Emerging Headliner interview powered by JBL, L.A-based singer, songwriter and producer Chrxstal Sarah shares how with her new single, Gaia's Children, and something called a sound bath, she hopes to heal mother earth – she’s got a certificate and everything. Allow Headliner to explain…

Chrxstal Sarah’s blissed-out new single, Gaia's Children, ponders what kind of world her future children may grow up in, and sees her grappling with the unrelenting uncertainty at the current state of the planet. It’s timely then, that when Headliner catches up with the burgeoning talent at her home in L.A, it’s pouring with rain.

“It's been raining so much,” she says – her tone warm and pleasing (Headliner can tell she can sing just by speaking to her). “Everyone's kind of losing it because I feel like we've never had this much rain, so everyone doesn't know how to drive and doesn't know how to function,” she laughs.

Growing up in a religious household in L.A, Sarah was raised on gospel music and motown, then later latched onto Radio Disney, then made her way through rock, indie, and in college when she wanted to learn how to DJ, EDM.

“Each phase of my life introduced new music to me in really cool ways,” she shares. “That sparked my creativity and helped me develop my sound, although not really any particular sound, in a weird way. 

"Music can shape and form the experiences you have and be so monumental to you at different points in your life,” she muses. “It can be what you need in the moment.”

Music can be what you need in the moment.

Sarah always gravitated towards music growing up; she joined the school choir, signing up for talent shows, and was writing poetry from a young age.

“I just knew that I loved to sing,” she remembers. “But I also was a very shy kid, so I didn't really know how to go about it. As soon as my mum figured out I could sing, she was like, ‘Church choir, school choir, conservatories, talent shows!’ – I kind of got thrown into it where I had to learn how to develop a stage presence and learn about music theory, and it flowed naturally. But it wasn't until my college years when SoundCloud was really popping off that I was like, ‘Let me buy some equipment, figure out how to record and work out what goes into the release of a song.’”

Stepping out of her comfort zone and getting used to performing took time; Sarah found it helped to focus on making the tracks, rather than agonising over how they might be received.

“When I first started I wasn't super concerned about the reception, I was just happy to have even made a song,” she nods. “It was really exciting to just get all my internal thoughts out, which I had a lot of because, as I said, I was pretty shy and wasn't really talking much about my emotions and feelings, so everything became really introspective. It was really therapeutic in a way.”

the industry is kind of oversaturated so it's hard to cut through the noise.

Graduating from soundcloud to Spotify, Sarah has only been releasing music since 2018, but has already been featured on Spotify's Fresh Finds. Introspective new track, Gaia’s Children voices the anxiety surrounding climate change, and includes the lyrics, “Our mama, she's upset / Can't understand why we've forsaken her / I pray she gets revenge,” and the repeated line, “I know you don't wanna hear it…”

The message is serious, yet the delivery, calm and undemanding. A quick Google tells Headliner that Gaia means the goddess of the earth. “I've always had a love for the planet and the environment; when I was a kid I was kind of a tree hugger and very in love with the earth,” she smiles. 

“So now, to see what's happening, it was inevitable to bring that into my music. No one can really ignore what's happening to our planet and the damage that has been done. I'm starting to see people who maybe weren't super interested or knowledgeable about what's going on having questions and being interested, and that makes me happy because I'm thinking that we can get to a place where we can have these discussions now, and do better in our personal lives and advocate for change on a larger scale.”

L.A.'s recent heavy rainfall creeps into the interview again, as it brought the issue of climate change home for Sarah, quite literally.

“All the rain I was talking about in L.A. got me thinking, plus I was – not even sad – but just staring out my window all the time looking at the rain. That's where the song idea came from. And even just outside of the environmental change, things we’ve experienced on a political and social level and everything we've been through within the last three years…I wake up every day like, ‘Okay, what's next? When are the aliens coming?’ That's where I started to get the idea for the song – out of feeling a little helpless right now and knowing that other people are probably feeling the same way. I got it all out on the page.”

I've always had a love for the planet & the environment; when I was a kid I was a tree hugger.

Gaia’s Children is Sarah’s first release of 2023, and she plans to use the song as a catalyst for change, a call-to-action for her fans, and a reminder of the type of artist she'd like to be. And she’s not all talk: on April 1st she’s hosting ‘Gaia's Children: An Immersive Sound Healing Experience & Climate Talk’ in L.A, which coincides with Earth Month. She tells Headliner that this includes something called a sound bath.

“A sound bath is a sound healing event or activity you can hold for a group of people, one person or even just yourself, and it consists of different sound healing instruments,” she explains patiently – she must get asked this a lot. 

“So you'll see crystal sound bowls, chimes or ocean drums – things that help you relax, relieve stress and anxiety that put you in a really deep mode of relaxation to heal you on an emotional and spiritual level. I got a sound healing certification in 2022,” she points out.

“I'd already been practising sound healing for a while after attending a sound bath myself. People can come in, relax, lay down – you can totally knock out. I've had people just fall asleep where I can hear them snoring,” she laughs. 

“But you're just supposed to get as relaxed as possible! You'll have a sound healing practitioner, which in that case would be me, and I'd be there playing the instruments and providing that experience for people. 

"I was pretty drawn to it because of music, and it’s cool that people are introduced to this healing modality through music. It can be really cool for people who aren't really down to sit and meditate for 30 minutes in complete silence; it's a great alternative to putting yourself in a meditative state. So I'll be providing that for folks and we'll also be talking about climate change and our feelings and concerns around that, and how we can make a difference in our personal lives and otherwise.”

I'm here on this earth. I care and I'm going to do my part.

Contending with a sea of fake news and climate change deniers, the response to the event is heartening for Sarah, who welcomes anyone who is interested in learning what she’s about.

“It's really cool to see people being more open minded and interested about how they can make a difference, or at least learning about it, because a lot of people – and they have a right to feel a bit hopeless – are like, ‘Well, it is what it is now.’ 

"There are so many people in power who are making things so much more difficult for us, but there are so many things in your daily and personal life that you can do just to say, ‘Hey, I'm here on this earth. I care and I'm going to do my part.’”

Take a listen through Sarah’s Spotify releases and you’ll discover an artist that has crafted a unique collection of songs filled with soulful vocals, alluring harmonies and expansive instrumentation. When it comes to music production, she is self taught, having soaked up as much as she can from producer friends. She shares that initially thinking she needed to do it all drove her to learn a new skillset: 

When I first started, for some reason it didn't occur to me that I could go to someone for a beat,” she admits, shaking her head slightly at the memory. “So I started to get familiar with music production, thinking that even if my focus is singing and songwriting, I at least want to know as much as I can about production – so if I wanted to drop a song today, I could do that. I started to learn and I got pretty familiar with things. It helped develop my sound as well just by being involved in the whole process.”

In her home studio space Sarah shares that she’s recently started using JBL 305P MkII powered studio monitors, which have made her realise a surprising detail that she was missing in her music before:

“One thing that I'm really happy with is the bass,” she enthuses. “It's funny because the type of music I make is not crazy-heavy and bass-y, or even a huge sound all the time, but definitely as a listener, that's always what I'm drawn to, especially when I'm producing – in terms of what sounds with more depth can hold. 

"I really like the bass on these speakers, and the overall sound is very clean. Sometimes with studio monitors, it can sound a bit muddled, but these are just really clean – the sound is really powerful,” she stresses.

“Another thing I really like is that the vocals are very much in the foreground, if that makes sense? Obviously as a singer, my vocals are what I focus on the most as far as how everything sounds, so now I'm like, ‘Okay, they're right here in my face and I can hear everything and I know how everything's sounding.’”

Especially for indie artists, JBL monitors are such a great find for a bedroom studio.

Going forward, Sarah sees the monitors playing a key part in the production process when it comes to improving her demo recordings and working on her vocal arrangements.

“Before I was using them, I would mostly use my headphones, but now I can definitely see myself starting with the monitors and sticking with those for the most part – especially for the vocals. I'm really excited to keep using them for that, because you can definitely hear everything and get everything super clean. And especially as indie artists, they're such a great find,” she points out, “particularly the setup, which was super simple. 

"For the most part, I'm recording in my bedroom studio space, and the way these studio monitors are set up and in terms of the features, they're perfect for small spaces. However, if you’re a larger, more established artist, the sound is amazing – and you have a full blown studio, so you're good! Anyone and everyone can use these; they're pretty perfect for anyone looking to produce and having it be a seamless process.”

An independent artist overseeing (not to mention financing) every aspect of her music releases, from her socials, to PR, live shows, to production, Sarah sees her monitors playing a particularly important role when factoring in how her tracks will translate over different playback systems and streaming platforms – allowing her to feel confident that her music is perfected prior to release.

“As far as releasing goes, you want to hear how they sound on the studio monitors, the headphones, you gotta do the car test and the phone test, and make sure the sound across every medium is perfect. The car test is honestly my favourite,” she grins. 

“When I’m driving and listening to music, that’s one of the best experiences – just driving and blasting music, so I have to make sure the song sounds good in the car, and these monitors are perfect for that.”

In terms of standing out as an independent artist in a changing industry, Sarah admits it can be difficult, but she remains focussed on continuing to make her mark, and on her own terms. A self-proclaimed "chameleon," she refuses to be put in a box, releasing everything from R&B, to indie, to chill, downtempo tracks. With more music planned, some live shows and more events as part of the Gaia’s Children world she’s building, it’s safe to say this won’t be the last you’ll hear of Chrxstal Sarah.

“It’s all about consistency and never giving up,” she reaffirms. “That's the only thing you can fuel yourself off of because with the industry right now, there's so many pros and cons to the way things are going. On one hand, if you decided today that you want to drop songs and you've never done it before, you totally can, and there's no one to stop you – and you could be on all the streaming services. 

"But at the same time, the industry is kind of oversaturated and it's so hard to cut through the noise, so really believing in the art you're making and being consistent is the only way to keep going. I’m just excited and interested to see how things go,” she smiles.