A few years ago, Chrystia Cabral started recording at home for an audience of one, exploring electronic instrumentation with gothic and industrial aesthetics. Under the name SPELLLING, she’s already notably succeeded. Her striking 2017 debut, Pantheon of Me, led to a record deal with Sacred Bones and the release of her critically acclaimed 2019 album, Mazy Fly. Now, she’s getting ready to put out the most ambitious project of her career thus far.
After getting her M.F.A. at UC Berkeley in 2019, where she explored performance and storytelling, SPELLLING broadened her lyrical interests and creative personas for her new album, The Turning Wheel, out June 25. On The Turning Wheel, we see her ascend from D.I.Y. producer to composer, enlisting over two dozen horn, woodwind and string players, pianists, bassists, guitarists and percussionists—a big collaborative effort she was able to pull off despite the limitations of the pandemic.
“I thought this would be my dream album to make, [and that I’d] have that opportunity to do something totally different from how I’ve made music in the past, which is to work with other people, get into a studio,” she says. “So that was the intention. It did not come together that way at all.”
Citing figures Minnie Riperton and Marvin Gaye as examples, SPELLLING says the roots of The Turning Wheel lie in “romanticizing the type of music that I love to listen to over and over, this era of soul music where people were cutting records and being in the same space together, and the lush orchestration of the ’70s soul music that I love.”