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Estonian Artist KERLI Shares Insight On Newest Album ‘Shadow Works’ & More [Interview]

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KERLI, one of the music world’s most unique and stand-out artists has been absolutely killing the game. Her groundbreaking ideals are strongly portrayed through her work, as she is considered a true avant-garde musical talent. The Estonian musician has completely created and defined a genre of her own for her fans to indulge in, and her newest studio album titled Shadow Works showcases just that.

Out now on Seeking Blue, Shadow Works is a truly enigmatic and simultaneously gradient musical masterpiece. Featuring some of her most personal and innermost thoughts and feelings, the album exposes the most inner parts of KERLI’s heart and soul. Its tracks touch base on everything she strongly believes in, incorporating some pretty substantial ideas behind the concept of human nature and the divine, along with a few other mystical topics.

Shadow Works is an exploration of my own shadow, it’s a collection of music designed to connect the listener to their own disowned parts and to honor their hidden self. I explore the feelings of victim-hood, co-dependence, lust, guilt and defeat. There are also frequencies that symbolize the eventual triumph over darkness. The vocal scapes that start, part and end the collection are designed to bring the listener into a meditative state so that Shadow Work can be performed.” 

Shadow Works is inevitably a personal journey, one in which KERLI exposes us through her own human experience and thought process. We got the chance to talk to KERLI and discuss her most recent work, and touched base on a few other concepts regarding her intricately mystical mindset and unique artistic persona. She’s definitely made a name for herself, as no artist in the electro-pop world compares to her astounding talent.

Nocturnal Times: Growing up in the small town of Elva, Estonia, what inspired you to begin producing music and embarking on such a creative artistic journey such as the one you’re a part of today?

KERLI: For me, growing up in a small Soviet Union occupied town, was kind of a gray experience. I remember it feeling restrictive and depressing. So I guess I created a magical world in my head as a place to escape to. As a child, I was always coming up with elaborate ideas for games and forced all the other kids to play roles in the theatrical experiences I orchestrated. I also started writing books as a kid. And as a teenager – music took center stage. 

Nocturnal Times: Your musical persona is unparalleled to that of any other artist out there. How would you describe your KERLI image to listeners in one word?

KERLI: Fantastical. 

Nocturnal Times: Most artists use their talents to show the world another side of them – an alter-ego if you must. Would you say that your artistic persona correlates with your normal, individual persona or is it a different side of you that you chose to show your listeners?

KERLI: I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Because I guess I do have 2 very different sides to me. The creation and the creator. When I’m the creation, I’m really intense and over the top. I live every character to the fullest and obsess over them. My creations are never relaxed. They are always hyper put together and no detail has been overlooked. The creation belongs to everybody.

But as a creator, my life is actually extremely simple and private. I spend a lot of time in the rural nature of Estonia in very humble conditions – carry my water, chop my wood and grow my food. I do so because it keeps me real. I’m also a minimalist. The creator belongs to no one. 

Nocturnal Times: You’re continuously categorized as one of the few avant-garde visual artists out there, mainly because of the metaphysical and mystical topics you discuss in your work. Where did these ideals that seem so special to you stem from?

KERLI: I started studying spirituality when I was 13 years old. I’ve always wanted to know more about why we’re here and I’m so fascinated with all the different schools of thought and belief systems. Lately, as I spend more time in nature, I feel like a lot of my inspiration and energy comes from the Earth and my own roots. Ancient Estonian stuff fascinates me the most right now. It’s powerful stuff.

Nocturnal Times: Did you always dream of using the power of music to instill and spread these values and beliefs of yours onto others? How does it feel to be able to do so at this point in your musical career?

KERLI: Music is a powerful healer and I’m constantly in awe of the magic of it. 

Nocturnal Times: Your newest and most eclectic album to date, Shadow Works, reflects a wide array of these topics you seem to be extremely passionate about. What is the main message you hope to get across to listeners through this album?

KERLI: The mission of Shadow Works is to connect people to their shadow side – the unhealed wounds that we all carry. I explore feelings of victimhood, entrapment, defeat and addiction in this new music. It’s about our dark side that we all must acknowledge and heal at some point. Because until we are not aware of it, we are a slave to it.

Nocturnal Times: Do any of your songs featured on Shadow Works derive specifically from any previous personal experiences? If so, we’d love to hear all about them!

KERLI: Actually, all of them are extremely personal this time around. But for example, I wrote “one” just before going into the nature for the first time, after living in Los Angeles for 10 years. Little did I know I would spend 7 months living in the woods in solitude that time because I was so exhausted. This song is about going home, back to the simple things and the people that love you. It’s about realizing that no thing in the world or no achievement actually makes anyone happy. Happiness comes from connection – with yourself, with your God and with your tribe.

Nocturnal Times: The album begins with the track “The Opening of the Way (Intro)” and ends with “Shadow Works (Outro)”. Was there a specific reason you chose the album’s tracks to play in this particular manner? Is there a story to be told by its chronological order?

KERLI: The vocal pieces that start, part and end the album are supposed to take the listener into a bit of a meditative state so they would be more open to deeply connect with the music and do their personal shadow work.

Nocturnal Times: Your “Savages” music video displays your artistic abilities and eccentric creativity incredibly. How was your behind the scenes experience in creating this music video?

KERLI: Music videos are always so intense! This one took me and my co director Iizii like 4-5 months to make. The prep was really crazy because I hand make or design everything you see and for example, we had to paint a thousand vines black to get the set we imagined. Usually my whole family helps. And I have an incredible art family and glam squad in Estonia. The prep took like a month. We then shot it and threw the ball into Iizii’s court, who is a brilliant editor. I think I gave him many gray hairs with all the hours we spent on it but we’re both really happy with this experience and how it turned out, I think. Our main goal with it was to have fun and make it a cheerful and stress free experience, which it kinda was. We spent a lot of time really feeling into it and didn’t rush ourselves at all. 

Nocturnal Times: Will we be seeing any other music video releases for any other tracks featured on Shadow Works?

KERLI: There are so many stories to tell still so I’m pretty sure there’ll be more visuals to this era.

Nocturnal Times: The beginning of 2019 has been huge for you with all of these amazing project releases. Aside from your own personal endeavors, will you be collaborating on any grand projects with any other influential music producers in the near future?

KERLI: We’ll see what the future holds:) 

Currently based in NYC, I hope to inspire others positively through my writing. Electronic music has become both a passion and a form of inspiration in my life, and I wouldn't change it for the world. I aspire to share this passion of mine with others and help them understand the uplifting potential it can have on our lives!

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