Arkhon is out now!
American singer, songwriter and producer Zola Jesus has dropped her sixth studio album, Arkhon. To celebrate the release, the artist has shared with MILKY five things she learnt whilst creating the body of work.
"When I look back at my work, I see there's a theme where I fixate on my fear of the unknown. That really came into fruition for this record, because I had to let go of so much control. I had to surrender to whatever the outcome would be. That used to be really hard for me, and now I had no other choice." the singer shares. "I had gone through a deeply transformational process of inner growth. That annihilated a lot of tension in my voice, because my whole attachment to things changed,"
I made Arkhon as an exercise to see what would happen if I let go of the outcome. In the past I’ve been so fixated on the final result, that the process of making a record is usually difficult and highly critical. In my studies and practice of zen, I’ve learned to loosen my grip and relinquish the power that expectation had over me. I spent some time at a Rinzai zen monastery in order to deepen this practice. This encouraged me to change how I view what it means to make music, and how that music is made. I was on a mission to enjoy every moment as if that was the only goal. Non-attachment and non-duality has been a game changer for me.
For the past several years, my life had been thrown into total chaos as I endured a transformation inside and outside of myself. During this time I became more interested in the experiential nature of wisdom. I started to unbind myself from the material world. Developing a personal relationship with my experience of what it means to be here was incredibly nourishing. It has deepened my connection to something bigger than myself. My song “Sewn” on Arkhon is about this.
Gnosticism is a mystical sect of Christianity that proposed that the creator of humans is actually a nefarious force, leaving archons in charge to mislead us away from our harmonic potential. I thought it was fitting to call my record Arkhon to refer to the malefic assumed and elected leaders who are driving humanity into a very dark place.
Since moving back to the woods, I have started to build a relationship with the land. Feeling like I’m a part of nature allows me the insight to understand our role as humans in a larger ecological framework. It makes me only more frustrated to witness how our current society contradicts natural law to such a degree that we are at risk of destabilizing it completely. Animism, for lack of a better term, is the only way to provide reparations to the land for what we continue to do it. We can no longer deny the interconnectivity of all living things.
The idea of the shaman as a healer throughout history, who spans across time and place, is a beautiful concept and practice which I feel is becoming lost. I have done a lot of research into the different types of healers around the world, and their stories continue to inspire me. I have so much respect for those who have answered the call to heal those who need deeper care. It is a strange, lonely, nebulous realm in which these people must jump between. But because of them, there is a provision for spiritual medicine. Sometimes I think of artists as healers in this way, straddling worlds in order to metabolize more difficult aspects of what it means to be alive. I am inspired to operate with the same principles a shaman would live by: to seek the wide truth and help others find the same.
Arkhon is out now!