Julia Shapiro (Chastity Belt, Childbirth, Who Is She?) has shared another new single ahead of her second solo album Zorked (Oct. 15, Suicide Squeeze Records), its opening track “Death (XIII),” along with a music video. As befitting its ominous title, the song is dark and otherworldly, a swirling fog of guitar distortion, bass rumble and Shapiro’s droning vocals that blends beauty and foreboding a la Midwife’s “heaven metal.” “Holding onto something concrete / but there’s freedom in falling,” she sings in its choruses, depicting nothingness not as something to fear, but rather as something to embrace.
Shapiro spoke to the song’s inspirations in a statement:
This song was inspired by the Death tarot card. My friend Bree Mckenna (Tacocat, Childbirth) had the genius idea to put together a compilation of songs inspired by different tarot cards. She chose the Death card for me. I immediately knew I wanted it to sound super heavy (death!!!). I’d been listening to a lot of heavier slower music around that time (Jesu, DIIV, King Woman). Once I got the guitar tone I wanted, the rest came naturally. I probably wrote this song in about a day, taking inspiration from Alejandro Jodorowsky’s interpretation of the Death card (which he calls “The Nameless Arcanum”) in his book The Way of Tarot. The Death card is often feared by people who don’t fully understand its meaning, but it can actually be seen as the transformation needed in order to start fresh and cleanse yourself. In other words, it can be seen as a new beginning (which is partly why it’s the first song on the album).
“Death (XIII)” video director Chris Wade added:
With Julia based in L.A and us over in the U.K., we came up with a concept that would work being shot between two different countries. We shot the deranged dancing fan sequences and Colby and Annie shot some awesome low-fi footage of Julia over in the States. Running Julia through a TV was a cool way to feature her in the same room as Eric (actor)—whose band (Gang) actually supported Julia’s band Chastity Belt on their European tour a few years back. That’s how we all know each other, so it was a really fun and organically produced video. I definitely looked like a creep printing all of those photo’s of Julia out for real, in the photo store. I made a swift exit and I’m never going back.
Shapiro co-produced Zorked with Melina Duterte (Jay Som), naming her new record after an altered state of mind, and making a conscious effort to move away from the sounds of her 2019 solo debut Perfect Version.
Watch the “Death (XIII)” video below and revisit the details of Zorked right here.