Inspired by a Philip Larkin poem, Arya Zappa shares new single "Now Or Always"
Image: Holger Rogge
Enigmatic Berlin-based musician, performer and DJ Arya Zappa is set to release her debut album Dark Windows - a gothic, layered, new wave record that plays with the notion of identity.
Ahead of that she's released a spectacular new track - complete with cinematic video - "Now Or Always".
Mixing torch-song vocals that are as much Cabaret as Berlin-era Bowie, and taking musical influences from The Cure, Gary Numan, Grace Jones and Dead Can Dance, Arya Zappa is quickly establishing herself as the high priestess of cool androgyny and dark sensuality. "Now Or Always" - written with regular collaborators, the guitarist Owen Ross and Russian artist Polina Kaimel - glows with the presence of Berlin. It's a pared-down track with slow and sensuous verses punctuated by stabs of spacey guitar, building to an almost (but not quite) sunny chorus warmed by an embrace of synths...and always present is Zappa's distinctive, booming voice filling the song with gravitas. Of the track and video, Zappa explains
"This song was inspired by the beautiful eponymous poem by the great Philip Larkin, 'Is It For Now Or Always'. The video shoot was a spontaneous idea based on another lucid dream I had recently."
Born in Iran/Persia, Maral Salmassi grew up in Germany and found her home in the country's techno scene, eventually founding revered label Konsequent Records in 1997 and going on to work on releases by Jimi Tenor, Zombie Nation and Andrew Weatherall. It took a long time for Salmassi to accept her distinctive voice and then realise she could use its unique power - once she did, Arya Zappa was born.
"Dark Windows is based on my dream diary, dealing with my ongoing metamorphosis and important life events, involving death, heartbreak, recovery and a new start,"
explains Zappa of her debut album.
"Some chapters of the diary deal with my life long struggle concerning my voice, which is symbolized in my eponymous short film, through the hair inserted in my throat. My childhood as a little girl with the voice of a whiskey gargling drag queen was a very special experience."
A very special experience - that's Arya Zappa and Dark Windows. Let it overcome you.
"Now Or Always" is out now. Dark Windows is out 26 June on Kobra Recordings (image by Ivan Engler)