Aphir’s heavenly electronic artististry is equally inspired by 17th century choral arrangements, as it is by modern hyperpop.
The singer-songwriter has just dropped her new single Red Giant, which comes from her upcoming album Pomegranate Tree (out October 5), which grapples with Amir’s relationship to organised religion and her ultimate departure from the Christian church. It’s definitely a concept album, rich and exploratory, seeking reason behind the joys and pitfalls of faith. Sonically, it’s one for fans of FKA twigs and Grimes.
With the release on the horizon, we caught up with Aphir to ask her some further questions about her as an artist.
Could you please explain the themes behind your new album, Pomegranate Tree?
I think at bottom Pomegranate Tree is a bunch of songs about trying to connect with people. I’ve tried to explore that by looking at ways in my own life that I’ve tried to make those connections in misguided ways, or people have tried to make them with me (eg. through organised religion, and through the music industry), but also by looking at the ways in which connection does feel possible. That part is really still a mystery though in so many ways.
Where did the title originate from?
The title is a reference to the Greek mythological story of Persephone, who’s the daughter of the Greek goddess of the harvest. She picks a flower one day in a field and it opens up this chasm to the realm of Hades where souls go after they die. There’s this rule that if you eat food in the underworld you have to stay there, and Persephone mostly resists but eventually she caves and eats seven pomegranate seeds. As a result, she has to spend seven months of each year in the underworld. When she returns, that’s when the spring comes. Pomegranate Tree is kind of a reference to growing something beautiful inside you even while you’re in the underworld.
How do you balance your work as an engineer with your creative projects?
Pretty easily! Working on other people’s stuff always makes me want to work on my own stuff more, and then engineering for other people is a great palate cleanse if I’m too in my own head about Aphir songs. Streaming my process with production live on Twitch also helps me keep in a regular routine of creation with new Aphir songs.
How did you become interested in choral music?
I think my first conscious interest in it came when I was in high school and listened to William Byrd’s choral masses for the first time. I also remember listening to a vocal arrangement in one of my friend Kat (Lack the Low)’s early band’s songs and fully realising how vocals could be wordless instruments underneath a lyrical toppling.
Who are some of your favourite musical inspirations?
I try to listen pretty widely and there are a lot of established musicians who I respect and draw from, but I wouldn’t be doing the things I’m doing without the immediate community of artists I have with Provenance Collective. I’m constantly inspired by them – Sandy Hsu and Romaeo for their lyrical genius, LOUV, Lack the Low, and Sebastian Field for their production wizardry and incredible vocals, Arrom for her otherworldly mixes and textured beats, not to mention the visual world she creates, and Sia Ahmad for her ride-or-die commitment to exploring new frontiers of sound, as well as her kind and careful mentorship.
Do you have a favourite song from the record – and why?
Equinox has always been my favourite song from the record because it feels so lyrically simple and beautiful to me.