How does a person construct a sense of self in a culture that doesn’t offer them representation? Multimedia artist Sepehr Mashiahof uses dark, direct synth-pop vocabulary to address that question, creating her own intricate narrative of identity, and driven by a desire to heal. As The Bedroom Witch, the Iranian-American artist navigates growing up a trans immigrant whose pop idols were both Googoosh and Christina Aguilera.
Her fourth album Diaspora follows the thematic idea of exploring identity through pop that’s been visible throughout her work. Here, her journey of self-discovery examines generational trauma. Playing with dark synths and restless rhythms, she keeps her hooks polished and seductive, while retaining their industrial grit. The mood shifts from introspective (the spaced-out synth ode “At the Gates”) to euphoric (“Fountain Choir,” a burst of ecstatic energy) as her metamorphosis, reflected in the album’s sequence, progresses.
Mashiahof’s music inhabits a place of myth and magic, where unseen forces operate beneath the surface—like the protection spell cast by her ancestors, which she describes in “Sea of Insects.” Diaspora’s power lies in Mashiahof’s ability to couple themes of death and transmutation with melodic repetition. Hers is a self-contained world where foggy vocals and luscious drums remain always out of focus, as if emerging from a smoky sacred vision; her own complex self, manifested in music.