The Iranian multidisciplinary artist delves into a journey of emotional turbulence, healing and self-discovery on new album SHABRANG.
In few of today’s big artists will you find a vision as transcendental as Sevdaliza’s. Unabashed, frank and totally forward-thinking, her approach to music is devastating and brilliant all at the same time. Her debut album, ISON, won over the hearts of many back in 2017, with its vast soundscapes and detailed reimagining of trip-hop, while sophomore project The Calling entered a glitchier, more classic realm altogether.
On her latest album, SHABRANG, the Iranian talent continues her streak of breathtaking work by delving into a decade full of emotional turbulence, healing and self-discovery. The record’s title lends itself from a story in Persian mythology – the legendary horse of hero Siyâvash, whom, in a trial for his innocence, is used as a vehicle for the Prince to ride through a blazing fire.
It’s a calamitous project, a mixing of styles and genres all distorted so far out of their comfort zones they could only truly be laid to rest by Sevdaliza’s soft-yet-cutting vocals. Tracks like “Joanna” are dark and stirring, followed shortly after by the bolshy, BjörkPost-era stylings of “Wallflower”. Elements of dance creep into play on songs such as “Eden”, mixing ethereal harmonies with dreams of the utopic garden, while “Oh My God” retains that dead-pan Shygirl rap brashness we all know and love.
“This album represents to me that the essence of it all to me is love,” Sevdaliza explains. “It is a deep letter to myself, my own bible I have to write in order to trust and believe in life. Trust in myself and my character as a human being.”
Ultimately, what SEVDALIZA finds on SHABRANG is a semblance of peace, amongst all the chaos in the world and her own life. Here, she seeks to empower and push beyond the boundary, and she does a damn good job of it too.
Catching up with the immensely talented singer below, we talked all things shelved demos to keeping spiritual during a crisis, take a look…
Hey Sevdaliza – so lovely to e-meet you, how are you doing?
I’m great. It feels good to be back in the rush of things after such a reflective period.
How have you been remaining spiritual/holistically living in the pandemic?
I’ve definitely allowed myself to be way more spiritual than before. The self has finally had some real downtime. I mean, it’s amazing how I’ve always showed up for myself, so I felt that I deserved it.
Has lockdown affected your artistic process at all?
Not really. My album was finished right when COVID-19 started, so I really took the time to not force anything.
Tell me about SHABRANG! What does it mean, and how did you land on the name?
‘Shabrang’ translates to ‘palette of the night.’ The name came to me, mostly how all meaningful things come to me, through the subconscious.
What were you reading/listening to while creating the album, and did any of that really impact any of the songs?
I was traveling a lot. I am sure that it has influenced me and therefore affected the music.
Does this project differ from your earlier work at all?
I don’t think it does. My work to me feels like a huge autobiography/self-portrait composed over the course of several lifetimes. I feel like I’m remembering the past and imagining the future.
In one sentence, could you describe how the journey through the album from Joanna to Comet feels for you?
Your videography is so immense – what can we expect from the SHABRANG era visuals?
It has been my passion to direct films for so many years, and I finally found the courage to take that first step. I wrote and directed “Habibi” off my album with my directing partner Ana.
Which was the hardest song to complete?
The ones you haven’t heard yet.
How did you celebrate finishing this masterpiece?
I’m not the indulgent type. Making this record and being able to make music from the core is a daily celebration for me. Life would be dull without love and music. Every once in a while, I put the record on in my car and I get goosebumps. That’s my humble celebration.
I know you must love them all, but are there any tracks that really stand out for you in any way (whether it be a personal connection with the lyrics or one that you just think is a proper bop)?
I feel like every piece has to hit that point before it makes my album. God bless those thousands of shelved demos.