As shown by the sheer virality of videographer Bardia Zeinali’s work, intelligent art direction and creative production has completely shifted the way in which we consume music today. Take Iranian-Dutch experimental electronic and trip-hop musician Sevdaliza, who has bewitched the world with her haunting sounds and even more haunting visuals.
This is where Zahra Reijs comes in. Also based in Rotterdam, Reijs is a 27 year-old fashion documentary photographer whose work has been published in magazines such as Oyster, i-D and Vice. Her work is dreamy and surreal, with a more human twist shown in the sensitivity of the images and attention to her subjects.
For five years now, Rejis has been artistically documenting her best friend Sevdaliza, both behind the scenes, for official promo and in video direction, which is a more hands-on collaboration between the two artists.
She’s also the sharp eye behind ‘Bluecid’, Sevdaliza’s most popular video from her debut album ISON. It features Sevdaliza ballroom dancing with French pornstar François Sagat, an extremely elegant and sensual affair that enhances the choral and ethereal effect of the music. She is also responsible for ‘The Valley’, the track that propelled Sevdaliza to fame. Using a split screen, the video doesn’t shy away from a homemade quality, as a moody Sevdaliza is shown trying on different looks, and identities.
Whilst acclaimed Dutch-Ghanian visual artist and director Emmanuel Adjei has been more instrumental in creating Sevdaliza’s latest works, her best friend still looms large in production, with her holiday pics of the artist in Sicily posted all over Instagram.
Reijs also continues to be the sole director of Sevdaliza’s image, with her visuals for the video and promo of ‘Darkest Hour’, some of Reijs’s most beautiful work yet, showing a mournful Sevdaliza holding a sleeping lamb to her chest against a blood orange studio backdrop.
Sevdaliza is also regularly invited to her studio, where they experiment, staying true to their original concept of the shape-shifting and multiple subjectivities of Sevdaliza’s musical identity.
These conceptual shoots are also accompanied with text from Sevdaliza, “A repeated process of disrobing, or unsheathing. The immortal part of man shakes off from itself, one after the other, its outer casings, and – as the snake from its skin, the butterfly from its chrysalis – emerges from one after another, passing into a higher state of consciousness.”