The Bedroom Witch celebrates the Persian New Year and mutual aid with the transcendent single “Rooze Roshan”

In celebration of the Persian New Year of the new decade, The Bedroom Witch has released a single that explores love, identity, and isolation. Funds raised by the track will be donated to members of the queer and trans community of color that are suffering financially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sepehr Mashiahof, the artist behind The Bedroom Witch, explains: “I have a small list that friends in the community helped me gather, prioritizing Venmo accounts of QTBIPOC people* who are suffering as a result of the pandemic. I’m hoping to round up enough funds from sales of this track to evenly split it between everyone.”

In “Rooze Roshan”, bell and pad synth sounds seem pulled straight from the 80s, lending a wistfulness and nostalgia to the work. With additional instrumentation including kamanche, tamboor, setar and additional vocals performed by Mashiahof’s parents, the track gives a sense of not just migratory displacement and diasporic melancholy, a major theme in Mashiahof’s discography thus far, but also, unexpectedly, diasporic euphoria. Plaintive vocals climb and descend as our heroine simultaneously emotes grief and hope for healing.

What does is it like to feel loved, to feel held, by a lover or by society? Is that lack of love the same as abandonment? And if one is abandoned, will I, will we, be strong enough to survive?

As the song spins in to a rich instrumental dance breakdown, it gives a sense of time travel, or of time warping at least, and one can easily get lost in what day they are in, what decade they are in, what lifetime they are in — as has been the experience of many under weeks of self-quarantine. And so, as has much of the music released by underground queer artists lately (see Vortex Empath Xen‘s new release, Between Worlds, for more), this track, written and recorded quite in advance of the COVID-pandemic, feels to some degree prescient in its sentiment. Or it could be equally possible that The Bedroom Witch is just always ahead of her time.

Reminiscent of Middle Eastern and Asian pop from decades past, the juxtaposition of often bleak romantic lyrics with bright production, happy progressions and danceable rhythms suggests the acceptance of unrequited love that is largely lacking in Western music. When performed by an artist as powerful as Mashiahof, that underlying theme of romantic love stretches further and seems to ask its listener: What is it feel like to feel loved, to be held, by a lover or by society? Is that lack of love the same as abandonment? And if one is abandoned, will I, will we, be strong enough to survive?

Sang entirely in Farsi (lyrics available on Bandcamp), the English translation is as below, and the poetry speaks for itself in all its painful beauty:

Bright day
give me freedom
yesterday I wanted to die

Bright day
give me freedom
yesterday I wanted to die
Bright day
I ran away from my love
and he/it didn’t come after me
I’m not afraid of being alone
but without you
i’m afraid of my own shadow

“Rooze Roshan” can be streamed below:

(*Note: that’s Queer Trans Black Indigenous People of Color for those who have a hard time reading these things)

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