FACT Rated is our series digging into the sounds and stories of the most vital breaking artists around right now. This week, Lottie Brazier speaks to Danish-born, New York-based boundary-pusher Soho Rezanejad, whose recent Six Archetypes album marries philosophical lyrics, deep synth sounds, evocative electronics and post-punk values.
NAME: Soho Rezanejad
FROM: New York
MUST-HEAR: Six Archetypes
FOR FANS OF: Nico, Zola Jesus, Lust For Youth
Growing up in Denmark, Soho Rezanejad’s childhood centred around big gatherings, where music “filled up the living room and a circle of people were always dancing or telling jokes. Never a day passed without a visitor.” Her parents’ record collection reflected a coming together of eastern and western culture: “everything from ‘90s Euro dance music to traditional or modern Iranian,” the 28-year-old recalls. These parties were savored all the more for what her parents escaped: in 1985, Soho’s father had to flee Iran. Her mother left a year later, and the two united in Denmark, their new haven.
Two decades later, electronic experimenter Rezanejad – who now lives in New York – says that understanding what her parents went through is a direct influence on her music. “I’ve written more freedom songs than love songs,” she says, “but maybe they come down to the same thing.”
This duality is explored in the introspective, gothic lyrics and desolate moods of Rezanejad’s debut album, the eclectic Six Archetypes. Full of Nico-esque vocal theatrics, it’s an intense listen that plays with droning darkwave atmospherics and juddering synth arpeggios. The glossy, sci-fi-esque album art features a female figure who looks like she’s just stepped out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, mirroring the album’s retro-futuristic production and distorted robotic vocals. “I thought of it as a reptilian figure conceived from an egg which cracks once there are enough memories gathered inside,” she explains. It’s an album she poured herself into, sleeping in the studio as the record took shape. Her devotion is telling on a record that, since its release in January, has been steadily amassing admirers – including industrial pop titan Zola Jesus, who featured Soho in her recent FACT mix.
“When I work on something, I take it with me everywhere I go,” says Rezanejad, who began creating Six Archetypes in her own personal studio, before taking the skeletons of songs to the studio of her main creative sparring partner, co-producer Miccel Mohr, “where the space is more concentrated.” From there, they worked on creating an album that despite its deep synth sounds and evocative electronics, was also rooted in Danish post-punk (Rezanejad also plays in the cult three-piece Lust For Youth, and has worked with the goth and synth-pop inspired Croatian Amor). She says it’s the scene’s sense of togetherness that appeals to her. “Community holds a vision together and strengthens people as a collective – it means you can develop a movement,” Rezanejad explains.
Six Archetypes – whose title and song names reference psychologist Karl Jung and his theory of the recurring character types that appeared unconsciously in people – may be a solo album, but Rezanejad loves to collaborate. The lyrics on the record were crowdsourced from a wide range of guests, including friends and people passing through the studio. “I would just play them the demos and ask them to write down what they thought I was singing. No word was clearly graspable, and from their transcription I found these beautiful sentences,” she says. AsRezanejad sings on the album’s haunting ‘The Russian’: “He wanders cities made burlesque with money and music and the howling vagrant dog / he is a soldier in his Cossack boots or a pale, blonde woman selling cigarettes / often, he’s a boy, working alone in a vast, half-fallow field, almost lost, and there’s a sky like the back of a jigsaw puzzle.”
Rezanejad hasn’t stopped since completing Six Archetypes. Having contributed a new track to a compilation called I Could Go Anywhere But Again I Go With You alongside other members of the Danish music underground, the artist is already working on further albums set for release in 2018 and 2019. Those releases are “a big move away from Six Archetypes in terms of sound and inspiration,” she teases. There’s also the small matter of her acting debut: a role in the 2017 Fedeora Award-winning Danish psychological drama The Charmer, playing a Danish-Iranian citizen caught up in a tragic relationship. Whether exploring music or film, Rezanejad is taking her talents to new horizons.
Lottie Brazier is a freelance writer. Find her on Twitter.