Sevdaliza is an artist who has always been at the forefront of creativity, from early videos delving into 3D render work to her outstanding sonic exploration, she, for many, stands at the vanguard of creativity itself. However even with the following she has amassed Sevdaliza remains underrated for the true creative force she is. One could say with some conviction that the music industry and the systems that be have looked to push her as an independent artist to the side. This only caused her to push back and become an artist now known for being fiercely independent from the woes of a gluttonous and exploitative industry as she forged her own path and gave herself her own dues. de designs today.
Interview tak­en from METAL Magazine issue 46. Adapted for the online version. Order your copy here.
It takes true courage to fight back like this and claim what is truly yours. This however can become tiring, being in the creative industries as a woman is often a struggle, with deeply rooted oppressive forces dangerously magnified upon individuals. Even in this struggle against them you often become pigeonholed into a character which doesn’t represent the holistic nature of you. This constricting pressure has also been applied in other ways by fans, who seem to push idealised philosophical ideas of who Sevdaliza is onto her. A claustrophobic experience. Perhaps even this narrative I have just painted is yet another part of the suffocating mythology that can surround an artist as they strive to just be.
Through her recent pregnancy however an idea blossomed and was further developed. The idea that you could escape the pressures to be constantly creative, to be ideal, to need to update your social media all the time or to have to change your body to fit unrealistic beauty standards. To meet the modern music and fashion industry's expectations of the perfect artist. That idea came in the form of Dahlia, the first human femmenoid and the concept and creation which holds together her most recent EP Raving Dahlia. Dahlia has been created by Sevdaliza and her team to take on these tasks for her and allowed her to focus on herself. On her recent pregnancy and the true pleasures of writing music, when and as she wanted. Embedded with AI technology that can be constantly tweaked and developed set within somewhat realistic facial features Sevdaliza strove to create her replacement and medium for her freedom.
In this issue and conversation the metaverse and multiverse collide as we imagine different versions of ourselves and different worlds we could inhabit or create. There can be an oppressive vision here of crypto-landlords, crippling self-doubt and of the loss of self all together. On the other hand there can also be an element of what Sevdaliza created Dahlia for in the first place to be seen. For these places could contain within them the freedom to create another version of yourself, to let avatars do work for you, to build new worlds and futures but also to step outside of that and live more freely. ‘Fully automated luxury communism’ in the metaverse era? It's all twisted and intertwined but what is certainly felt through Sevdaliza’s music is an expression of these themes which is to be expected from an artist who always has running through their hands a thread to what is coming next.
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I saw on a recent Instagram post of yours that Dahlia had told you to go recharge in the metaverse – Sevdaliza is pictured floating on a boat in Dubai. I was just wondering how relaxing you found it?
Well, I have to say after Covid it was kind of refreshing to live in that world again and recharge without the reality of the real world hitting you. Every now and then it's really necessary to do that. So, I definitely recommend it to everyone.
Did you feel like you were actually in the metaverse at that point?
I think Dubai is really like a metaverse for me, it’s so surreal everything that happens in Dubai. It’s a whole city that has risen from nothing. That’s why I feel for me, it’s really close to the metaverse because it’s like an imagined city, its an imagined world.
It really is crazy how quickly it has sprung up.
Yeah, I remember I was on an aeroplane flying over Dubai about 15 years ago and I saw the Palm Islands from the top and it was being finished at the time and now it’s the most popping place for people to go on holiday. It’s crazy.
I know the metaverse is such a buzzword at the moment but do you feel that what is being described by big tech companies is actually going to become a reality?
I don’t know, I feel like it’s quite interesting, but I have to see what comes from it. Sometimes I feel like it’s more of a trend word and it’s not necessarily becoming or taking over our actual world. I wonder if it’s really something that we will go into and will change our lives or let it take over a part of our real life or is it just another development in technology which has been going on for so long. I remember playing Sims when I was 14 years old and it’s basically the next level of the Sims. I don’t really see any change. You know what I mean?
Yes, the graphics are actually kind of worse in some ways...
So that’s why I have to see what comes from it. Right?
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I guess it also depends on how seamless it is with VR headsets and technological advancements like that. I don’t know if you can actually feel truly immersed within something like that.
Absolutely, I agree. I don’t know either.
It’s interesting you’re saying that it could just become part of our world rather than we get absorbed into it. I feel sometimes when engaging with social media my brain is splitting between myself and my digital self. Do you find that and what is your relationship like with social media?
I think that social media has become a really important identity that I have. But I treat it as an identity. I feel like a lot of influencers or people that use social media as a job they see social media and their real world as one. In my case, it’s really two separate things. I don’t actually share a lot of real things on social media, most of them are an alter ego, imagined or something like that. I would definitely say that for me it’s doable because of that. It’s healthy and I can just leave it and be totally fine with it.
Do you feel like that’s what happened with the creation of Dahlia the femmenoid. Was that a parallel of how you are with social media?
I’m interested if you actually found that Dahlia and creating her worked in your aim of freeing yourself from the pressures of a patriarchal society and an oppressive music industry?
It absolutely did and I think that’s because I was able to step away because I had such a different life at the time, being pregnant and nobody knew, because I didn’t share that. I could really take a step back and be my pregnant self instead of being too worried about my Sevdaliza alter ego online. I think that’s when I realised that to live a healthy normal life I should separate this from my real life because in my real life sometimes things go on that I don’t feel comfortable sharing or don’t want to share. I think that unfortunately now it’s hard but I think people should still have some kind of freedom and be able to decide what they want to share and Dahlia gave that space.
When it came to the practicalities of how much she took over that side of things, how involved was she with the creation of the music or creation of your posts online? Are those automated or was that from you? In general, how does it work in terms of Dahlia actually taking over?
In basic terms, she helped with the music because she has AI technology and she can gather samples and randomly create melodies and harmonies, so they were also used. A lot of the posts were automated so sometimes there was like a whole month, which is quite rare for me, where I didn't have to do anything online. This was to take away a lot of the pressure from me during my pregnancy. It was really helpful and it kind of gave me the opportunity to have a peaceful pregnancy.
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That’s amazing. Do you feel like there’s something from these experiences that people can learn from on how to exist in modern life?
Absolutely, yeah for sure.
It’s interesting thinking about Dahlia and the metaverse because it feels like the metaverse could go in two different ways either we get absorbed into it or there’s some sort of automation that could happen where our avatars can exist and communicate with others and do these things for us, kind of like how you've used Dahlia to free yourself. Do you feel like that could happen and that there is a link there?
Yeah for sure! I think that is a good way of seeing it.
It seems that the metaverse is a place where new rules can be forged and created. For example in the Crypto Valley in Decentraland there are two big notice boards with their own philosophies written on it. I wondered if you had your own land and created your own place in the metaverse what kind of rules would you have?
I would definitely be very inclusive. Bullying would not be allowed. There would be free medication and free access to medication needed for diabetics and for instance hormones for trans people; these would all be free. I would also change the schooling system. I would include a lot of holistic education, for instance education about practicalities of life. I think one of the biggest rules in my metaverse would be that bullying is not allowed (laughs) not online and not off line!
What was interesting about Crypto Valley is that they also said that the architecture of the space “Will convey the disruptive anarchic visionary ground- breaking aspects of crypto life.” I just wonder what your architecture would look like in your space in the metaverse?
I think my architecture would be a combination of Zaha Hadid and Valerio Olgiati. They’re amazing and for me it would be hyper modern, but then still with a sense of ancient architecture. I really love the mosques in Isfahan in Iran and the way that the architecture is based around a holy concept. I think that is really amazing.
Would you have a specific colour palette that had to be used as well?
I am a Virgo, so I would definitely have almost everything in beige with a colour pop here and there (laughs).
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When we started talking earlier about digital and non-digital selves and their curation it made me think about a specific inspiration for your EP which is plastic surgery. I wondered what about plastic surgery inspired you and how much is that a surgery of the digital or the physical self?
Well, I think it’s almost the same and I think because we created this social media world with again a cycle of really unhealthy and unrealistic beauty standards. What happens now because Photoshop and Facetune are so accessible to everybody is that the beauty standards have become even more unrealistic. People actually try to become the real version of the thing that they photoshopped which is crazy because it’s really not possible without surgery. Back in the day the beauty standards were also very unrealistic but you could still do it without surgery. For instance in the Kate Moss era it was like heroin chic so people would not eat or in the Marilyn Monroe era it was the waist so women would wear corsets. They were still not healthy and natural but they were real. Now it’s crazy. It’s like you have to go through multiple surgeries in order to achieve these beauty standards which I think on one hand is very good because if people are really unhappy they should really do whatever they want with their bodies. But I also think it sets a very unhealthy and toxic standard for young women and sometimes I really worry about that.
I was chatting to my friend who’s writing an article about surgery and people going out to Turkey for example for Brazilian Butt Lifts and how there is a risk of death from these procedures. How much do you know about that whole world?
I know a lot about it. I’m obsessed. But not because I want to do it but I am just obsessed with why people decide to go through this surgery because it’s the most dangerous surgery in the world.
 So why do you think people go and do it?
Well, I think because we’ve driven an insane beauty standard to the new normal that’s why people go through it because they don't really have the knowledge of how crazy it is and how damaging it is.
With the EP cover for Raving Dahlia is that you or Dahlia?
It’s actually me when I was six months pregnant and I think that’s another interesting part about being on the Internet is that you can let people believe anything you want because at the time nobody knew I was six months pregnant. When I did this cover it was just tuned and it doesn't look like I’m six months pregnant.
 I guess there now really is an option for people to get out of those unrealistic expectations by just editing your digital self which exists as you said like your alter ego rather than actually change your physical body. Dahlia however in some ways seems to do the opposite as her construction brings attention to the fact she is a robot. I wondered why you decided to still have robotic elements visible from her head down?
Because I feel like it’s quite interesting to show how much robots can copy human beings and the line between them is really fading.
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Turtleneck Drape Gown BALENCIAGA, earrings ARCHIVED PROTOTYPES.
It’s really impressive for example I know she has lungs. Was she able to use these and sing on the EP at all?
Not yet, but we are working on that.
Are you planning to take Daliah forward into your new music then?
Yeah for sure.
I was wondering as you curated and created Dalia, I presume it’s with a team of people, but did you feel attached and connected or detached to aspects of the robot?
I felt not so attached to the robot necessarily but I did feel attached to her expressions because they freed me so it made me feel really calm knowing that she was there and she can always do things when I can't. So, she’s almost like a friend.
In a lot of the music videos you’re looking at her and..
Yeah exactly, she’s a part of me that exists outside of me. The one that’s always working, that doesn’t need to sleep, that doesn’t need to eat, the one that is always there and always will be there when I don’t have the time or energy to do things. Of course, it feels like we have a bond
But you haven’t figured out how to make her do interviews yet and free you from this?
That’s the next step. It’s a bit expensive, we need to contact Elon for that.
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Have you met him before?
A few years ago.
A nice experience?
For sure!
If we move onto the multiverse I saw that you often direct or co-direct your videos. I was wondering as you go into creating a video project if you feel like you’re creating an alternate universe? Or multiverse at that point? Or do you feel like it’s based in your reality right now?
I definitely think that my music videos have always been extended visions of my world. I always imagine these kinds of worlds where things take place. I feel like now it’s become more logical and easier to explain this vision to other people. People think, “Oh, it’s a Sevdaliza music video” and there is already has an expectation of what it’s going to be. Even though they’re very different from each other I always feel like there’s a certain common thread in every visual that I make. I would definitely say they’re not attached to my real world, they’re always like fantasies in my imagination, an alternative universe.
Do all of those videos coexist within one universe?
Yes, I think so actually, even though they’re very different. I do think they all live in one universe, because it's the Sevdaliza universe.
One example of a world that you created within your universe was Oh My God. A track you went on to remix for this EP. I was wondering when you remix a track with someone else or rework it together if it feels like you are bringing the track into a different world or how do you see this creative experience within the lens of these worlds?
Um, I have this imagination for where I want to take a song that’s already been finished and sometimes you know, I work on songs for so long that, that’s how they are in my world. So, I bring in someone else and see what they are going to make from it. That’s what I did for Oh My God. I brought in a good friend of mine who also worked on other projects with me, Nik Roos, and I explained to him that I wanted to take this track into a whole different genre. I thought, okay, what can we do with it? I made a sketch on my Ableton, sent it to him and said, “Okay, this is what I really liked and how it should sound”. But, of course, I asked him to bring in his own flavour and his own exceptional technical work for it to really glue together. That was really nice. It turned out well.
Definitely, do you feel that it’s within the same universe as Sevdaliza then?
Yeah, absolutely.
I was thinking about multiverses and why this theme had been brought up and it seems to me that often there’s a focus on one person and how they parallel within different universes rather than focusing on parallels that exist between individuals and the world we actually live in. When talking about the shoot for Everything Is Everything you said the visuals stand “For the representation of myself and every woman.” It’s like there’s a replication of one’s self within others in that community. I was wondering how the shoot was for you in feeling that connection and being surrounded by all these other women?
It was really special that day and it was special for multiple reasons. I also think that it has to do with the fact that I was highly pregnant during the shoot, I was already eight months. There were so many different stories coming from the women on the shoot day. There was a mother and a daughter and during one scene, she asked me if I wanted to pause because they got really emotional. Then, we spoke to them and we found out that the mother had just been diagnosed with cancer a few months ago, that’s why the shoot day was a bit heavy for her. Her daughter was so proud of her. There were a lot of trans girls involved and they had their own really special stories. So, it was a really nice day full of wonderful women and of course all close to my own culture either they were born in Turkey, Iran or Iraq so it almost felt like a big family day.
I can imagine it being really powerful seeing those parallels of parts of yourself within other people.
In terms of your inner world you mentioned on Instagram that during recording of one of the tracks your baby was kicking loads. Do you feel like in a way then your child was part of the EP or helping you create the EP in some way?
I think that being pregnant and then creating music is such a different experience and every time you sing you’re really aware of the fact that your baby hears your voice because your voice is the thing that they hear the most when you’re in the stomach. So, yeah, it’s really different.
So I guess your child already kind of made music?
Exactly! (laughs).
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