Recently at the Twin Peaks UK Festival I had the pleasure of sitting down with Rebekah Del Rio, chatting to her about her career and working with David Lynch. She was really generous with her time, and I got to speak with her for over half an hour. When we were testing out the voice recorder for the interview she actually sang “Llorando” to me, so I forever have a personalised recording of it. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did.
MH: Hi Rebekah, thank you for taking the time to speak to 25 Years Later, firstly could you tell us about how you met David Lynch and John Neff and began your working career with them.
RDR: So, I was a country and western recording artist from the 90s, late 90s, and I had just finished my record in Nashville, and I had a photo shoot in LA where I had lived 10 years before. So when I was planning to do my photoshoot, my agent Brian Loucks at CAA calls me up and said “When you’re here, I want to introduce you to the director David Lynch.” And I said, “Blue Velvet David Lynch?” and he said “Yeah, yeah.” So I go: “Wait a minute, Wild at Heart David Lynch?” and he says “YEAH!” This really is a true story and I tell it all the time because it was so cute, as I just couldn’t believe it. I said “Twin Peaks David Lynch?” “YES REBEKAH, DAVID LYNCH!” So I’m thinking, “Oh, ok, ok, yeah I would love to,” and he goes to me, “Ok well, I want you to meet me there, he has a studio in his house, show up on time, look cute, and sing when I tell you to.” Now I’ve been singing “Llorando“ since 1993 and this was circa 1999, so I’d already been singing it, got the record deal, got the management deal, got CAA, got the publicist. I got the whole deal for this song. So obviously this is the song I’m gonna sing for David Lynch, cause this is THE song right? So I show up on time, I thought I looked pretty cute and when Brian said “Oh David, this is Rebekah Del Rio, she’s my client, she’s got a new album out soon and she has this great song and she wants to sing it for you. GO!”
MH: (We laugh) Wow, so you were just put right on the spot?
RDR: Yeah! So I stood up and I started to sing it, just like you’ve heard it before, and I get to halfway and I’m getting to the bigger part and all of a sudden David says, “Can you stop for a moment?” [I am thinking] “Oh my, he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t get it. Ok. Alright.” Then he says, “It’s really beautiful. I have this, I have this great mic, a Telefunken, there’s only 3 or 4 in the world! John Neff and I just fired it up and we wanna see how it sounds. This is the perfect song! Can you go in there real quick and just start from the top?” So I say, “Sure” and I’m thinking to myself, “HE LIKES IT! OK! ONE MORE SHOT, ONE MORE SHOT!” So I go to the booth, get in there, and John Neff says, “Ok, go.” So I start to sing the song again; I get to the build up, I get to the last part with this big old ending—the longest ending ever. And then, that was it, done! Then David says to me, “Ding dang Rebekah Del Rio, that was aces.” I’m thinking, “Did I just step into the ’50s? Like where am I right now?” Our meeting was literally one and a half songs, two cigarettes, a cup of coffee, and then ok Buh Bye! John Neff says, “Ok great, that was wonderful, thank you and it was lovely to meet you.” John is so adorable and so sweet. So we were literally outta there, 20 minutes, done! I thought, “Wow that was a whirlwind, that was like a David Lynch film, like what the heck just happened you know?” So I go home, do my shoot, get on with my life and get ready for my regular tour.
MH: So what happened after that?
RDR: Well my agent calls and says, “Listen Rebekah, I wanted to tell you that David is obsessed with your song. He just cannot stop listening to it”. So I was like, “Well what song?” ‘Cause I had other songs of course. He says, “Yeah the crying one, you know the, the ‘Yolanda’ or ‘Yolando.'” He couldn’t even pronounce it! “He recorded you when you were in his studio.” I was officially just auditioning for him so I’m like, “WHAT?” I had no idea that he recorded me. I was young you know, I was a new young recording artist, I honestly didn’t know. But now of course, I know! Anytime there’s a mic in front of me somebody is recording it! So anyway Brian says, “David’s so obsessed with it; he’s decided to put a whole part in his new TV series. It’s called Mulholland Drive, it’s gonna be on ABC and it’ll be just like Twin Peaks. You’re gonna be like Vonda Shepherd, you’re gonna be showing up in different episodes as the singer and it’s gonna be great. He wrote the special part just for you, you’re gonna love it and he’s gonna fly you in to do it.” I’m like, what? Ok sure why not? I’d never been in a movie, I was a baby and had no idea what was going on. Flash forward, I’m sitting in a little makeup trailer at 4.30 in the morning. Just as I went on stage David tells me, “Ok, now you’re just gonna mouth the words.” I say, “I can’t do that, I can’t mouth my own track. No! You won’t get the vibrato, I’m singing along.” So I sang. Every, single, time. Everybody in there, all the staff were just like “I can’t believe she can sing like that”. That’s how I met David and THAT’S how I got into the movie.
MH: Like one of his happy accidents.
RDR: It really was, because then I found out years later, 20 years later, that David actually tried to cancel that meeting—several times. Brian was insistent so thank you Brian! He said, “You HAVE to meet her.” Brian is the quintessential CAA agent. He doesn’t get you gigs, he puts music into film, that’s just what he does. It worked you know, cause David loves Roy Orbison and I think unbeknownst to David, he’s a step ahead of everyone else. And the inclusion and the diversity right? He added a Spanish, fully fledged Spanish song, and a Latina in his movie and it touched a totally different demographic. In 2002! And then again in Twin Peaks. It’s just inclusive; it grabs hold of everybody and says, “Hey, there’s something for everyone here. Not just this group of people or that group of people. Come on!” I think Morrissey has that down too because Mexicans love Morrissey. Wooo! Yes we do! Which brings me to “No Stars“ again. I happened to be obsessed with Morrissey at the time, which helped me write that song. That’s why I repeat myself, Morrissey loves to do that. Especially when he’s got a song that goes, (Rebekah sings) “And I won’t be saying it again. No I won’t be saying it again”. You’re like, wait you JUST said it again! Stop it! I don’t care what he does though, he can do whatever he wants because I love him so much. But aside from that, there is “No Stars.”
MH: Wow! So how did it come about performing “No Stars” in Twin Peaks?
RDR: Well Brian calls me, “Hey Rebekah, David and John wrote this really cool instrumental and they’re thinking that maybe you’d like to come in and do a full write.” So again, cigarettes, coffee, let’s talk about this. So they let me listen to the track and I just thought, “Wow, it’s haunting and sexy, I love it.” Then David says, “Oh hey I got this little chicken scratch poetry here, just a couple of words I wrote, what you think about that? Think you could write it in Spanish? Oh and can you put a melody down and just come up with something?” So I say “Sure, gimme the track, I’ll take it home and in like a week I’ll bring you a couple of options.” So David tells me, “Erm no, actually it’d be better if you just did it right now”. So I go into the kitchen, cause David’s house, it’s kinda like a big house with a kitchen in the middle and a studio. So I take a moment to myself, I take the chicken scratch and see what’s going to happen there. I looked at it and I’m like, “OK.” I’m a Nashville songwriter, I honed my craft right from writing in Nashville and we write like this: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, out. That is the formula! That is a country formula! So I’m looking at this and thinking, how am I going to make this mish-mash of words into what I know how to do? So ok, I channel some Morrissey, I thought alright, I’ll make this a verse, I’ll add this, I’ll make this the chorus, I’ll add my own words, then I’ll repeat it here, just what Morrissey would do! Ok that’s perfect, add a little bridge, we’re done. So I come back, play the track, and wait to sing along. I don’t know what’s going to come out—I’ve got an idea—but I don’t really have a clue. I’m listening to the music and it’s in such a weird time, I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed it, but it’s in fives so I don’t know where to start or when to come in. It was literally a ride with no seatbelt and no idea where it’s going, so I’m just waiting for the next chord, that’s why there’s a delay you know…
RDR sings: My Dream…
RDR: Then it goes, I’m waiting for the chord…
RDR sings:…Is to go…
RDR: When’s the next part? OH MY GOD!
RDR sings: To that place….
RDR: That’s how it happened! It worked out so beautifully because it sounds like something Little Jimmy Scott would do, he did that, everything was delayed. He would sing over the next chord, that was his style. But for me this was just a mistake, it was like ‘aargh what’s next?’ So it worked out beautifully. Then years later I find out Showtime had picked up The Return. I emailed David right away, I emailed him in CAPS! That’s what he likes to do by the way, he’s an all CAPS man! You realise you’re yelling at me David? Anyway, I said “David darling, congratulations on Twin Peaks: The Return for Showtime. It’s fantastic! Don’t you think ‘No Stars’ would be brilliant in Twin Peaks? Don’t you think?” He says, “Yes I do”. YAY! Thanks David! And so, et voila!
MH: Such a brilliant story. I think the music is such an important part of The Return.
RDR: Of course he was gonna have music in it, of course. But No Stars was PERFECT. It was a tribute to John Neff too, to the years he put in with David. For us it was like, “Yes! finally we have something that’s a collaboration between us. Something so brilliant that we can call our own.” John, David and I, it’s not just me singing a remake in my own way or in Spanish, this is something we worked on together. We collaborated with the great David Lynch and the most amazing John Neff. He’s such a beautiful soul, I love him! We spend Passovers together because I just love him so much. He’s like my brother, so it was special because we had both put so much into it with David and we feel like this is our reward. We finally got something like, “Hey we did it,” we can call it our own. Without John, it wouldn’t be what it is. Without me, it wouldn’t be what it is. Of course without David, you know. I’m just saying this collaboration was very special. Together, it’s like, cosmic you know? I think so. Every time I sing it I get lost in there. It’s some other world. I love it.
MH: That’s how we feel listening to it and your outfit too, it was perfect. Was that your choice?
RDR: It was! It turns out, when David asked me, I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone else, but he said “Come camera ready. We’re not paying for hair, makeup, outfit, too bad”. So I paid a lot of money to get my hair done, I had the best makeup artist, the best Beverley Hills hair, it cost me a lot of money! The dress however…I searched high and wide, every store I could go to. I looked online, I bought things that didn’t fit, blah blah blah. I wasn’t prepared! Maybe two days before the shoot I was at Macy’s of all places, a nice little department store in LA. So I’m looking and looking and looking, I tried on about ten dresses but I hated them. My friend was with me and we were SO frustrated. We were leaving because they were closing the store, the manager was at the door ready to pull the shutter like, “get the hell outta my store lady.” No one else in the store, everyone has left, the till is closed. We’re walking out and I’m thinking, “I can’t believe it’s 2 days till the shoot, I don’t have a thing I can wear.” I’m walking and there’s this big, long, rack of CRAP. Just dresses, shirts and a mish-mash of things that were gross. All of a sudden, in my peripheral vision I see a tiny little slither of chevron…I say “Hold on” and the managers like, “seriously?” I go to it, I pull it out and it’s the dress! The Dress! I didn’t even try it on. It was so inexpensive and actually cost me more to alter it. I had it altered and a funny thing about that, when I had it altered I had a regular bra on. But when I wore it for the show I had a push up and a corset to make me look smaller, so the alteration was wrong. It was supposed to be up here [points to collar bone] but now it was HERE [points to cleavage]. Oops! That’s how I found the dress and I’m actually auctioning that dress off here at the festival to benefit the Phillip C DeMars Foundation because I’m not gonna fit in that dress again honey! Someone is going to treasure it and it will help a really good cause. Everybody loves that dress and I cannot find another one.
MH: So when you were on set performing “No Stars“, did you get direction from David or did he just ask you to be yourself?
RDR: Well, when we did “No Stars”, I literally, I promise you, I channelled Mulholland Drive. I saw the girls in the balcony, I was at the Tower Theatre, I just went back in time there. And Moby behind me? Like, wow. David said nothing to me, like just…didn’t even say do your thing, I just did whatever I wanted. The only time I had to redo a tiny bit at the end, was because his track was different from mine. Mine isn’t as long, his is seven minutes long for Christ’s sake! I cut mine down. So I didn’t have the end, I didn’t even know where to stop. “No Stars, no stars, no stars, no stars,” you know, what am I doing? It kept going on and on! That was it. But other than that he said nothing. Then when I got off the stage Brian was there standing next to David and Sabrina and looking at the recording. He says “Oh my god, that was amazing. The lighting, wow!” That lighting was awesome, I just wish I could walk around with that lighting. Just walk along my life with that lighting! It makes me feel years younger! It was so beautiful and soft.
MH: It was the perfect end to that episode and it felt like the perfect time in the season too.
RDR: Oh my God, what Catherine says! I tell people this, every cast member aside from Kyle, we had no idea who was back. We had to watch the whole thing, of course we would, but every episode I’d wonder is this my episode? Is this my episode? Then when I saw Catherine say, “The stars align”, I just started crying. Because I just knew she wasn’t in this world anymore; she was in a different world. She was giving us a new way of looking at things. I solidified that, you know, with the song. It was just perfect, it was. But that’s David Lynch. He knows what he’s doing! He’s the professional!
MH: I think that shows in everything that he does. Do you have any plans to work with him again?
RDR: David? Oh I hope to! I’m hoping I can do a little more of the Festival of Disruption, which is such a wonderful festival. It benefits the David Lynch Foundation which brings Transcendental Meditation, it helps children at risk, teens, people who have PTSD coming back from war, women who are running away from domestic violence, people in prison, and just people in general. I use it, I love it and couldn’t live without TM which was gifted to me by David and I’m so grateful. I can’t tell you how grateful I am. Especially with the loss of my son. My son was very spiritual, very much into self realisation and I feel like when I meditate I’m literally on that same level as him. We’re always together anyway but that feels a lot closer, as we’re just on that plane together. So I am really grateful for that.
MH: That’s such a beautiful story, thank you for sharing that. Just for a bit of fun, if you could perform a duet in the Roadhouse with any other band who would you choose?
RDR: Oh gosh, If I could perform with one person, hmm, Little Jimmy Scott! Can you imagine? I would do Sycamore Trees, I would do that with him. Then I’d probably get back up and do a little ditty with Karen Carpenter. She’s the best!
MH: Perfect choices! Thank you so much for agreeing to speak with me, it’s been a beautiful experience. Do you have any parting words for your fans?
RDR: Thank you for having me at the Twin Peaks UK Festival! It was absolutely amazing and I’m so grateful to be a part of it. Do go to the David Lynch Foundation and learn about how you can help people better their lives and also, the Phillip C DeMars Foundation.
On a last note…Silencio.
If you enjoyed this interview check out some more featured on the site!