White Poppy Talks Overcoming Depression, Recording Self-Titled Debut Album
Crystal Dorval is searching for contentment. The British Columbia native creates dreamy psychedelic pop under the name White Poppy, and much like her opiate namesake, her music induces an almost instant state of calm. Her self-titled debut, due out Sept. 3, is framed by celestial distortion and blurry vocal harmonies both tranquil and eerie. But White Poppy’s therapeutic efforts don’t stop at her music.
Dorval is also a multimedia artist who creates collages and takes photographs as trippy as her music. She’s also been dabbling in amateur holistics, taking on anxiety and depression via her blog Sanity Soap, where she shares music and other works that have helped her naturally treat her own mental health issues.
While gearing up for the release of ‘White Poppy’ Dorval chatted with Diffuser.fm about recording the album in her apartment and the fine art of coping.
The name White Poppy has certain connotations. Is there a peaceful meanings behind the name, or did you just like way it sounded?
Yes, the peace symbolism behind the white poppy flower was something that I really connected with.
What prompted the change from My Friend Wallis to performing as White Poppy?
It was sort of a weird and convoluted process. At first, I started changing the sound of My Friend Wallis, then I got a 4-track and a drum machine and briefly started a project called DAD. Then I did this “Song A Day” project. At the end of that came White Poppy. I have a tendency to try and perfectly organize and compartmentalize everything into separate projects and themes. I wanted to get away from that and just have everything I do under one name, White Poppy.
You have a diverse set of influences. What were you listening to while recording ‘White Poppy?’
To be perfectly honest, I can’t even recall what I was listening to last week. Mostly, I just go through phases where I get obsessed with an album or band or genre and listen to it exclusively. Right now, I listen to a lot of ambient music. For a while, I only listened to African music. I like compilations that are genre-specific or specific to geographic regions. You know, the thrift store finds like ‘Caribbean Favorites’ and ‘Bossa Nova Classics.’
After recoding in your bedroom, how has proper studio time changed the way you work in a recording space?
The album was only mixed and mastered at the studio, so that just consisted of a couple days of me hanging out while Jordan Koop, the engineer, worked his technical magic. The actual recording was still done at my home. I have recorded albums at studios with past bands, though, and it just feels too rushed for me. I prefer to work alone and at my own pace.
Your multimedia art is great. What is your art background?
Thank you. It started as a hobby. I never went to school for art, but I’ve been making it since I was a kid. I really gravitated toward drawing and painting in my early teenage years. I think it was an escape for me. I began experimenting with digital art and video making more recently.
Can you talk a little about Sanity Soap and why you started your site about anxiety and depression?
I started the site because I have always had a strong desire to help people feel good about themselves and their lives. I think it probably stems from my own experience of struggling with feeling good about myself, and life in general. I am in a place now where I am finally feeling more capable of coping and working through my depression and anxiety, so I am feeling hopeful about overcoming mental health problems. I guess I just wanted to share that with other people, in hopes that it might help or inspire in some way. It may sound sort of cheesy, but having hope that things can get better, is really the key to overcoming things like depression.
What art and music help you cope?
So many different kinds! I am a big sucker for inspirational stories. I think TED talks and uplifting documentaries are really helpful. Also, comedy is key. I recently learned about quite a few comedians who have struggled with mental health problems. I think having a sense of humor about your “issues” is a really helpful coping tool. Music and visual art are obviously important as well. I think it’s good to have things you can get lost in. Sometimes it’s just a matter of time until bad moods or anxious states go away, so having a distraction to go to like drawing or collaging or playing music is helpful.