Six Archetypes, the debut album from Soho Rezanejad, an artist from Copenhagen by way of New York, was released on January 19. It’s an evocative, bewitching work that reminds you of Björk, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Cocteau Twins, while still maintaining its own sense of self. We spoke with Rezanejad (also a member of Copenhagen synthpop outfit Lust For Youth) via email about her artistic process, the influence of Carl Jung, and the complexities of identity.

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You recorded this album by having people transcribe what they heard from your half-audible vocals. What gave you this idea?

In ancient Greece, when someone would engage in an art form, it was sometimes thought to be a spirit or “daemon” using a human's body to conceive. So my friends and I called it the “daemon method writing”, because it is like a spirit that possesses you, writing only half-consciously. It’s a guessing game. There’s no shame if you write a bad line, at the worst it’s only bad guessing. It’s also just useful if you’re suffering from writer’s block.

How did you get involved with Lust For Youth?

I met Loke (Rahbek) in 2013 when LFY only consisted of him and Hannes, and there were collaborations between Loke and I from the beginning of our friendship. But it was during the recording of ‘Armida’, on which I sing vocals, that I learned about Hannes and Malthe. That was the same day Malthe became part of LFY. As for me, I didn’t know I was part of the group until later.

 

Your parents are Iranian, you were raised in New York and now live in Copenhagen. How have your cultural experiences shaped you and your music? What freedoms does recording under your own name allow you?

Recording under one’s own name is a great responsibility. There’s no way out of the pit if you get confronted with something. You are bound to reflect and learn from your actions, which I find is an attribute to freedom. It is still possible to hide behind a persona, but the walls are frangible and bound to break and make you human again. You are someone who changes quickly, and expresses that conversion through an artform. You learn very loudly, and you learn it in public. Patti Smith said if you build a name and really go with it, you make that name your currency.

Was anyone else involved with the recording?

My friend Nat was visiting me from Berlin when I only had demos for the tracks that ended up on Six Archetypes. He's a generous listener and capable of delicate thoughts. We spent a lot of time together during the process of the album, and he helped open myself to new views. So it all started with him and our friend Tao guessing the words to the demos I was recording.

Then there was Miccel (Mohr) who worked with me on producing my previous record Idolatry. He was also in on this entire album, both as an instrumentalist and as coproducer. We worked on the songs intensively until everything fell into place. After the record shaped up, I became friends with artist and filmmaker Kamil Dossar, and together we worked on the visual series of the archetypes. This album is a trademark of the relationship with many of my loved ones. Atusa Zamani plays sitar on Elegie. Frederik Iversen plays trombone on December Song. Mathias Sarsgaard does drums on Reptile. Patrick Ryan Frank, a person I found in an airport layover, he wrote the words to ‘The Russian’.

This album starts off very intensely. Even before the first track was over, I felt the urge to collect myself. Do you favour immediate impact over a slow burn?

Sometimes this can be humiliating, but in other cases it is the only way to execute if you want something extraordinary. A space unfolds where people can stay or leave as they please. It is at least sincere—I live in Scandinavia where people can afford post-irony. I find this rare in the Middle East. For me, whatever I do, it’s important to be sincere and not confuse any people with mixed feelings. If it’s indecisive, I’d rather keep it to myself until I learn more.

Playing a concert is like building a relationship. Sometimes, whether you like it or not, your impulsivity will be in favor of someone else’s loose ends. I find the two complementary to each other.

You took some inspiration from Carl Jung, such as his concept of the "orphan complex.” Could you explain more about that and how it influenced this album?

When I read Jung’s work, it made sense to contradict myself out of respect for learning. I can identify with all of his archetypes, which goes to show how terribly limiting it is to grip a hardened image of oneself. Inconsistency is important for growth. I think it brings interest to what we have yet to discover about ourselves, rather than finding it frightening. It takes guts to get to know yourself. I respect people who are willing to go that far.

How do you think the orphan complex has developed since Jung’s coining of it?

Some of us take drugs and join the clubs to find light, to connect with other people who can agree that we are altogether here in search of family, acceptance, some kind of home in an unstable, sometimes rotten place. What bewilders me is that we are so many people in need of belonging to an external system, because we are afraid to belong to our own lives. This is something I read from a book called Anam Cara, by John O’Donohue. A book that has made my perception of life more delicate.

’Greed Wears a Disarming Face’ is one of the most compelling tracks here and reminds me a lot of Cocteau Twins, both in terms of production and vocals. How did it come to be?

Like all of the rest. I go from falling in love to losing interest very quickly, but the pursuit of finishing the material is time’s credibility. It is again like building a relationship. You don’t just bail when things get complicated or stale, otherwise you are chasing after the wrong thing in people. My songs feel like people to me. I spend a lot of time with them and each one will make me feel like a particular person under its wings.

What message, if any, are you hoping to convey to listeners with your music?

There are people in this world, they are remarkable in their presence because they neutralize competition. They bring people closer, make us more relatable to each other. They encourage and give light to keep on moving, all with this simple sensation and ease. I love that person who makes you think, ‘If she can have this self image to allow herself to do what she likes, then so can I’ - I hope I can be hopeful and strengthening for people.

With track titles like ‘The Russian’, ‘The Idealist’ and ‘The Prostitute’, is identity an important aspect of this album?

My friend Madeleine Kate went to Lesbos in 2015 looking to interview Syrians seeking asylum. She was there when 170,000 people arrived in one month to the island. During the conversations she had, many of the people arriving had difficulty pronouncing ‘identity’, as a word.

The archetypes are observations of myself as a multifaceted person. At first I tried to leave this out of my music. But it became irresponsible, as my work is empty without my internal world being exposed. My morals make me a terrible liar, but I am also an expert in contradiction. I‘m eager to transform my understanding of the world. Once learning better about ourselves, we can use that knowledge to assemble communities.

How did making this album affect your general outlook on life?

This record is not something I particularly enjoyed making, but it was a necessary transit for me to move forward. It was a bridge that broke several times, with many doubts that had to be reassured, and with many people who supported my breath and gave me a hand to recollect everything. Whether it is received well or poorly, that does not matter. What matters are the risks I took, and the things I chickened out on. Those are thoughts I will work on for the next release, and generally as a life principle.