The Bedroom Witch (aka Sepehr Mashiaof) has spent years building imaginary worlds, inviting us into the parallel universes of “Nowhere” and “Exile.” Both stand as metaphors to places in her life — one is for the homeland, Iran; the latter being the United States. Her new album, A Place of Hurt, takes place in Exile, and serves as the prequel to her 2019 concept album Diaspora, which chronicles a fantasy journey from Exile to Nowhere.
In “My Only,” The Bedroom Witch creates a blissful, euphonious sonic marriage of synthesizer, voice, and drum sounds all her own. Mashiahof’s silken voice glides over a gorgeous synth line; a sensuous dive into melancholic yet euphoric sonic landscapes; a futuristic Kate Bush if she had collaborated with Bronski Beat and another Peter Gabriel album. There is a very mid-80s sound to the synth line, a ballad for long drives at night, or a soak in the bubble bath. The introspection is powerful as it lovingly addresses a potentially dangerous escape hatch.
“My Only is a song about coping mechanisms, like getting through difficult feelings through substance dependencies,” says Mashiaof. “It’s about those most honest moments of recognition of our own self-sabotaging behavior. We all go through it, but how do we get out of it? For me, it meant coming to terms with the fact that I am in this body, for this lifetime. Somewhere, there’s power in realizing you’re stuck with yourself.”
In the dreamlike, (at times Lynchian) video sequences directed by Sepehr’s sister Sepand, the healers and demons appear at once synchronized and distant. Latex and bondage-clad, dancing “healers” writhe about in a scarlet room. Mashiahof confronts her inner demons in the video, embodied as otherworldly creatures moving synchronously in bright red chadors. Ropes and roses restrain The Bedroom Witch inside a ritual circle, as she’s sacrificed to a statue of herself representing trauma and eroded identity.
“The red room is sparse in furnishings but rich in color, and represents the tumultuous inside of our souls,” says Sepehr. “The healers, the demons, the sacrifice, and the idol are all interconnected here. It’s about having terror of the pain you know will accompany growth, but promising yourself, you’ll still go far in your healing.”
Watch the video for “My Only” below:
A Place of Hurt, out November 4, 2022 (Psychic Eye Records and Ratskin Records), addresses the fear of abandonment, hesitance to feel or receive love, self-sabotage, and romanticization of pain that comes with finding love as a trans woman who feels out of place in society. Throughout the album, the sounds of a city grind against lush synths and angel-demon croons. Car tires screech above wistful synth lines and give way to shattered glass, while hypnotic sirens bleed into dissociative 80s drum machines. She describes the collection of songs as a “love letter to heartbreak in the city,” as it reflects on the confusing and crowded paths The Bedroom Witch – takes to form human connections, find love, and self-actualize all while combating societal dogmas projected onto her identity.
“Society can break your heart, inability to show up for yourself can break your heart, a bad dream can break your heart,” she states. “As a Persian immigrant, exile can break your heart. But there’s also so many underlinings of hope in the album. There’s the hope to heal from the addictive, obsessive behavior that comes with a traumatized self, and the hope to one day be carried by love and support without feeling shame.”
A Place of Hurt is out on November 4, 2022
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