“Powerful women throughout history are massively sexualised, even objectified. Is it because history is written by men? Or were these Empresses using their female prowess to rule the world?” Calista Kazuko
The first release from Calista Kazuko’s forthcoming album, Empress, ‘Come To Mama’ finds the High Priestess of Pop Macabre assuming the guise of Cleopatra with a characteristic mix of sensuality and sense of humour. Guided by a hypnotic bassline, mazy Arabian melody and pentatonic harmonies, the music sets an Egyptian backdrop to an ambient groove and sweetly meandering vocal that belies its take-no-prisoners intent: “Ruled them all / Now it’s time to rule you…”
Launching the Empress campaign, ‘Come To Mama’ – co-produced by award-winning film composer Guy Dagul and recorded at London’s Rattle Studios – considers the power, sexuality and stories of some of the most influential women in history: the Empresses. As Calista says: “Along with celebrating fierce, fabulous women, the ‘Empress’ album addresses hardships women are continuing to fight globally. Although we’ve come a long way, the struggle for equality continues.”
The video, directed by brilliant young filmmakers Philip Reinking and Tom Linton, places Calista as a contemporary Cleopatra amid dancing hieroglyphs – a posse of admiring boys, helpless in the face of our heroine’s beauty and power.
Released in September 2019, Empress finds Calista continuing to modify the norms of modern songwriting. Each track tells a story about a different Empress, resulting in a concept album that challenges complex themes while never losing its sense of fun: the song ‘Cake’, for instance, finds Marie Antoinette on Tinder!
Over the coming months Calista will be sharing a series of themed releases from the album.
Accompanying each will be an online campaign addressing each song’s themes, which include LGBTQ+ rights, FGM, prescription-drug dependency and domestic abuse. Aided by arts collective Voice of Aiko, these campaigns involve UK-wide musical workshops with charity partners and people affected by the relevant issues.
Out on 13 September, Empress is fan funded and supported by Help Musicians UK’s Do it Differently Fund. Pre-order your copy exclusively at: www.calistakazuko.com/shop