Art is powerful, provocative, controversial, and thought-provoking. Sevdaliza is the walking embodiment of art with no boundaries. Although she doesn’t have more than about a dozen songs out yet, the Iranian-born singer from Rotterdam has been an interesting figure to watch these past few years. Through her dark electronic beats, alluring vocals, and brooding lyrics, Sevdaliza has not only captivated listeners, but also thrust them into her unusual world.
Watch: “Human” – Sevdaliza[youtube=https://youtu.be/9t7SclAXoQw?t=0s]
Sevdaliza writes in a manner that feels like it could be her stream of consciousness, yet she’s totally capable of telling a coherent story in short, scattered lines. Similar to her music, aesthetically, Sevdaliza does not shy away from trying new things. Every music video she puts out is inspired by classic culture, referencing old films or even twisted reflections of life itself. No matter what the subject is, Sevdaliza never fails to put her own futuristic, yet vintage stamp on everything she puts out.
As more songs and videos are released, the artist does not get any less mysterious. In fact, when you think you might have come to catch a glimpse into who she really is, you really know nothing at all. Unlike other artists, Sevdaliza is quiet when it comes to interpreting her songs and videos; rather than spoiling her mystique, she lets her listeners decide who she is.
We live in a world where if you want to know everything about your favorite pop star, it’s just one Google search away. At times it feels like singers and musicians are popular products. We buy their music and idolize their super stardom. For some artists though, it’s about relating to a group of people and being the voice that they don’t have. Being in any sort of spotlight is strange. The center attention is somewhere that I never want to be, and I imagine being a famous artist is like… all the time. Sevdaliza sets out to question that type of consumerism and adoration, which makes her so compelling. In today’s money hungry industry, she is putting out art without selling herself out.
Sevdaliza’s latest production, “Human,” tells us the tale about a woman in our success and beauty-obsessed society. Underneath the power suits and outer shells we seek acceptance on, we all inhabit a soul. Obviously it is not just our physical anatomy that makes us human; on a philosophical level, all of us are able to make decisions led by our own conscious. Every human is navigating, trying to find a role in their own life.
“Human” is carried by dark, electronic beats, but what differentiates Sevdaliza from other electronic artists is her ability to capture an emotion, not only through her so-real-it-hurts lyrics, but also through the music itself. “Human” feels empty in some places, like the artist is looking to fill a void. Perhaps her feelings of emptiness are a result of the technology obsessed, anti-social consumer culture we now live in.
It’s passing me by
Been in and out
And in front of my judgmental eyes
My precious disguise
Business so cold
Can’t cope with my own
How to not fail
The video suits the song well as it takes an interesting perspective on the greed that has played a huge part in our world. It also centers in on the beauty standards that people, particularly women, are held accountable to. The clip is set inside an artistically beautiful hall that looks like it could have been a 19th century palace, yet the characters in the music video give it an odd, futuristic feel.
Sevdaliza first enters into clear view wearing a black robe as she wanders to the center of the hall. We quickly find out that she is the center of the (presumably) rich audience’s attention. Sevdaliza works as a sex symbol in the video. Men are seen sweating as she takes off her robe to reveal her clad attire, a beautifully jeweled bikini peace.
The piece she is wearing brings about the scent of classic Hollywood nostalgia. The outfit she dawns in the video is a nod to old-Hollywood actress, Debra Paget’s costume in the Indian Tomb, where she was also seen as an object of sexual desire. Every watcher looks at the woman with pure lust and a hint of curiosity in their eyes. Things are not what they seem as the camera pans out; it is revealed that the Sevdaliza has the legs of an animal (Think an upright centaur… ).
I am flesh, bones
I am skin, soul
I am sweat, flaws
I am veins, scars
I am human
Nothing more than human
When the mystery of Sevdaliza’s character in the picture is unveiled, it’s easy to question the feelings behind the men there, watching her. Do they think of the woman as a beast? Do they only see her as a sex symbol? The reasons they watch with such intrigue do not matter, however; they are still there, fawning over and judging someone that they do not see as their equal because she is different. She is just another way to entertain their minds and, more intimately, their sexual fantasy.
The “Human” video is strange and sultry. Sevdaliza holds an abundance of power as she dances in front of the men, looking them in the eye, without a hint of fear or anxiety. It is one thing to be sexually objectified and another to be sexy. As she does look incredible in the video, it also takes a look at how “different” people are viewed. People who are unique become centers of unwanted attention. Sevdaliza has fused the power of sexual desire with the anxiety of being different to make for a beautifully dark, twisted piece of art. “Human” is the lead single off Sevdaliza’s upcoming debut album, and we cannot wait to see what distorted version of reality she will create next.
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cover: Sevdaliza © Zahra Reijs