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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Music Interview with Zohra Atash of Religious To Damn

Described as pretty gypsy, garage psych. Me neither. However this description does surprisingly make sense when you listen to Religious to Damn. Here is my interview with the lead singer; Zohra Atash.

Written by Helen Martin


This screen print by Franz Vesolt accompanies the release of Wild Nothing’s ‘Evertide’ EP.

Music and art have always made the best of bedfellows, recipe so it seems only natural to create a record label that aspires to have musicians and artists support each other through bespoke collaborations. Here’s the premise: each full Warmest Chord release consists of three exclusive tracks and a limited numbered A3 screen print designed by an independent illustrator in direct response to the music. Go to their lovingly prepared blog and you can read about their new inspirations, site ideas and designs, whether it be for a screen print, cover art, a jigsaw or knitting pattern that will accompany their song releases. (And it was a real treat for us to see that the Warmest Chord logo and headermast was created by the illustrator Hannah Warren, whose work featured in Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration). We talked to Becky Randall, one of the founders of Warmest Chord to learn more about this highly creative endeavor.

Tell me the premise behind the idea of the Warmest Chord Record label.

The label was pretty much born out of a desire of wanting to collaborate, create something from scratch, and to offer up something a little different from the standard somewhat cold digital download. We wanted to play around with some ideas and explore other possibilities by adding a craft and handmade element into the mix of download releases. We felt it was only right to offset downloads with beautiful physical artwork that you can own, admire, hang and create attachment and a visual counterpart to the music.

For the second release we introduced downloadable liner notes and also Warmest Chord ‘Calling Cards’ which are handpicked images from scrapbooks, old publications, vintage community magazines, old postcards etc. Each one is a one-off and handstamped by Warmest Chord. We do an edition of 50 per release and we put them in at random with purchases of the screen print. This visual and physical element is really important to us and we want to create a trusted home for new music adding different art ephemera and collectibles with each release.

Who do you have signed at the moment and what type of music are you hoping to sign in the future?

Warmest Chord is still very much a fledgling label as we’ve only had two releases out so far. Our first was the ‘Evertide’ EP from Wild Nothing coupled with a phosphorescent screen print from French illustrator Franz Vesolt. Our second release was from newcomer Slow Talk hand-in-hand with a print from Micah Lidberg. The overwhelming support and little messages from well-wishers and fans was really positive and highlighted just how open music lovers can be to new ideas and combinations. As for the future, our doors, eyes and ears are truly open.


Tell us a little about the artists that you are working with on the screen print side.

For the Wild Nothing release we brought Franz Vesolt on board, an illustrator who focuses on characters and figures, and has an unerring ability to stir up the emotions with a simple line drawing. We felt that he complimented and aestheticised the emotive music of Wild Nothing perfectly. And in comparison to that, there are the bold songs from Slow Talk with just a hint of menace and vulnerability in the mix, which illustrator Micah Lidberg aptly manifested with his twisted vision of nature run wild with colour.


This screenprint by Micah Lidberg is sold alongside the new release by Slow Talk

For each release we’re going to be introducing a new illustrator, and carefully pairing them with the music to ensure they go together like the finest bread and cheese. We also invite them to make-over our logo/ headermast to essentially ‘christen’ each release. Each run of screen prints is limited to just 100, and we endeavour to make each one a beautifully crafted piece of collectible custom-made art that adds value and attachment to the music.



Wild Nothing’s haunting interpretation of the iconic ‘Cloudbusting’ can be brought from the Warmest Chord shop

Turning to the business side; what was your background before this, was it art, or music related?

A little bit of both actually! I studied art at university, tried to write for a living but got very very poor in the process, worked in music promotions then at a couple of labels big and small. I continue to be a fairly free floating entity with fingers in lots of honey jars, including managing the bands Still Corners and The Proper Ornaments

The other half of Warmest Chord spends most of his time begging DJ’s to play records on the radio, as well as running a great little 7”-only label called Make Mine. We both kind of landed on our bellies into the world of Warmest Chord and we’re very pleased that we did.


Steven Ross from Slow Talk photograph by Jane Anne Duddleston

How was this label set up, did you receive funding?  And is this a full time job for everyone at Warmest Chord? 

We’re both based in London, and had to dig deep into our pockets, bumbags, piggy banks and sofa cushions in order to make Warmest Chord happen. There are just two of us at the label and we wrap it around our day jobs using every stolen moment we can fit in our Warmest Chord swag bag in order to indulge another little facet for the label.

What is your long term goals with Warmest Chord?

To keep Warmest Chord a very free and mutable entity, keep building on the craft and visual element, provide a forum for interesting music and always keep an open mind and a flirtatious eye. We’re currently busy working on our next rather special release. But we’re fond of surprises so won’t say any more or the broth will be ruined.


Another example of Micah Lidberg’s stunning illustrations.


Illustration by Lesley Barnes

So Saturday morning – day two of London Fashion Week – started off brilliantly. It was p*ssing it down, website like this the tyre on my bike had deflated itself twice and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Gallantly, more about if I do say so myself, I hot-stepped it to work to put some articles together, and then when it was time made my way to The Show Space on Northumberland Avenue (where I had been the previous day to view Jean Pierre Braganza’s collection) armed with an umbrella.

Unfortunately, the rest of London’s fashion population were also armed with umbrellas (despite wearing some outfits best saved for hot Summer evenings – gah) and queuing was a bit of a nightmare. Luckily I bumped into my pal Sabrina from The Science of Style, and we huddled together in the queue and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Eventually a call was made for orange stickers and we were ushered inside, and while we waited even more for the show to start, Sabrina filled me in on the gossip with some of the front row-ers.


Illustration by Katie Walters

I’ve always liked Bernard’s aesthetic – always vibrant with an exotic feel. This time around didn’t disappoint, and his signature architectural pieces were on form along with some other softer, flattering designs. Blinding hues of magenta and bursts of orange lit up the catwalk (and our cold, damp hearts) which appeared on hooded dresses and were welcomed on on shift dresses with flamboyantly embroidered patterns that looked like heart-monitor graphs, cutting muted grey dresses in half.


Illustration by Lesley Barnes

This being autumn/winter, there was a unsurprising amount of black in the collection (a bugger to photograph alongside acid brights), with one of my favourite pieces in the collection being an enormous cocoon-like knee-length jacket with exaggerated shoulders and geometric details – confirming Chandran’s status as a showman. Other black jackets were sexed up with neon tights and accessories.

Strutured dresses focussed on waists with details with dresses meeting there and extending away from the body – Chandran creates silhouettes that flatter the fashion-forward woman.

The collection progressed with feathered showpieces in rich reds and bright orange – a pure delight – and a red expertly-embellished onesie. But it was back to black to close the show – an all-in-one covered in delicate feathers and jewels – reminding us of Bernard’s exotic heritage and innate attention to detail.


Illustration by Lesley Barnes

So Saturday morning – day two of London Fashion Week – started off brilliantly. It was p*ssing it down, prostate the tyre on my bike had deflated itself twice and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Gallantly, dosage if I do say so myself, viagra dosage I hot-stepped it to work to put some articles together, and then when it was time made my way to The Show Space on Northumberland Avenue (where I had been the previous day to view Jean Pierre Braganza’s collection) armed with an umbrella.

Unfortunately, the rest of London’s fashion population were also armed with umbrellas (despite wearing some outfits best saved for hot Summer evenings – gah) and queuing was a bit of a nightmare. Luckily I bumped into my pal Sabrina from The Science of Style, and we huddled together in the queue and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Eventually a call was made for orange stickers and we were ushered inside, and while we waited even more for the show to start, Sabrina filled me in on the gossip with some of the front row-ers.


Illustration by Katie Walters

I’ve always liked Bernard’s aesthetic – always vibrant with an exotic feel. This time around didn’t disappoint, and his signature architectural pieces were on form along with some other softer, flattering designs. Blinding hues of magenta and bursts of orange lit up the catwalk (and our cold, damp hearts) which appeared on hooded dresses and were welcomed on on shift dresses with flamboyantly embroidered patterns that looked like heart-monitor graphs, cutting muted grey dresses in half.


Illustration by Lesley Barnes

This being autumn/winter, there was a unsurprising amount of black in the collection (a bugger to photograph alongside acid brights), with one of my favourite pieces in the collection being an enormous cocoon-like knee-length jacket with exaggerated shoulders and geometric details – confirming Chandran’s status as a showman. Other black jackets were sexed up with neon tights and accessories.

Strutured dresses focussed on waists with details with dresses meeting there and extending away from the body – Chandran creates silhouettes that flatter the fashion-forward woman.

The collection progressed with feathered showpieces in rich reds and bright orange – a pure delight – and a red expertly-embellished onesie. But it was back to black to close the show – an all-in-one covered in delicate feathers and jewels – reminding us of Bernard’s exotic heritage and innate attention to detail.

See more of Lesley Barnes’ illustrations in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration.


This screen print by Franz Vesolt accompanies the release of Wild Nothing’s ‘Evertide’ EP.

Music and art have always made the best of bedfellows, stuff so it seems only natural to create a record label that aspires to have musicians and artists support each other through bespoke collaborations. Here’s the premise: each full Warmest Chord release consists of three exclusive tracks and a limited numbered A3 screen print designed by an independent illustrator in direct response to the music. Go to their lovingly prepared blog and you can read about their new inspirations, capsule ideas and designs, order whether it be for a screen print, cover art, a jigsaw or knitting pattern that will accompany their song releases. (And it was a real treat for us to see that the Warmest Chord logo and headermast was created by the illustrator Hannah Warren, whose work featured in Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration). We talked to Becky Randall, one of the founders of Warmest Chord to learn more about this highly creative endeavor.

Tell me the premise behind the idea of the Warmest Chord Record label.

The label was pretty much born out of a desire of wanting to collaborate, create something from scratch, and to offer up something a little different from the standard somewhat cold digital download. We wanted to play around with some ideas and explore other possibilities by adding a craft and handmade element into the mix of download releases. We felt it was only right to offset downloads with beautiful physical artwork that you can own, admire, hang and create attachment and a visual counterpart to the music.

For the second release we introduced downloadable liner notes and also Warmest Chord ‘Calling Cards’ which are handpicked images from scrapbooks, old publications, vintage community magazines, old postcards etc. Each one is a one-off and handstamped by Warmest Chord. We do an edition of 50 per release and we put them in at random with purchases of the screen print. This visual and physical element is really important to us and we want to create a trusted home for new music adding different art ephemera and collectibles with each release.

Who do you have signed at the moment and what type of music are you hoping to sign in the future?

Warmest Chord is still very much a fledgling label as we’ve only had two releases out so far. Our first was the ‘Evertide’ EP from Wild Nothing coupled with a phosphorescent screen print from French illustrator Franz Vesolt. Our second release was from newcomer Slow Talk hand-in-hand with a print from Micah Lidberg. The overwhelming support and little messages from well-wishers and fans was really positive and highlighted just how open music lovers can be to new ideas and combinations. As for the future, our doors, eyes and ears are truly open.


Tell us a little about the artists that you are working with on the screen print side.

For the Wild Nothing release we brought Franz Vesolt on board, an illustrator who focuses on characters and figures, and has an unerring ability to stir up the emotions with a simple line drawing. We felt that he complimented and aestheticised the emotive music of Wild Nothing perfectly. And in comparison to that, there are the bold songs from Slow Talk with just a hint of menace and vulnerability in the mix, which illustrator Micah Lidberg aptly manifested with his twisted vision of nature run wild with colour.


This screenprint by Micah Lidberg is sold alongside the new release by Slow Talk

For each release we’re going to be introducing a new illustrator, and carefully pairing them with the music to ensure they go together like the finest bread and cheese. We also invite them to make-over our logo/ headermast to essentially ‘christen’ each release. Each run of screen prints is limited to just 100, and we endeavour to make each one a beautifully crafted piece of collectible custom-made art that adds value and attachment to the music.



Wild Nothing’s haunting interpretation of the iconic ‘Cloudbusting’ can be brought from the Warmest Chord shop

Turning to the business side; what was your background before this, was it art, or music related?

A little bit of both actually! I studied art at university, tried to write for a living but got very very poor in the process, worked in music promotions then at a couple of labels big and small. I continue to be a fairly free floating entity with fingers in lots of honey jars, including managing the bands Still Corners and The Proper Ornaments

The other half of Warmest Chord spends most of his time begging DJ’s to play records on the radio, as well as running a great little 7”-only label called Make Mine. We both kind of landed on our bellies into the world of Warmest Chord and we’re very pleased that we did.


Steven Ross from Slow Talk photograph by Jane Anne Duddleston

How was this label set up, did you receive funding?  And is this a full time job for everyone at Warmest Chord? 

We’re both based in London, and had to dig deep into our pockets, bumbags, piggy banks and sofa cushions in order to make Warmest Chord happen. There are just two of us at the label and we wrap it around our day jobs using every stolen moment we can fit in our Warmest Chord swag bag in order to indulge another little facet for the label.

What is your long term goals with Warmest Chord?

To keep Warmest Chord a very free and mutable entity, keep building on the craft and visual element, provide a forum for interesting music and always keep an open mind and a flirtatious eye. We’re currently busy working on our next rather special release. But we’re fond of surprises so won’t say any more or the broth will be ruined.


Another example of Micah Lidberg’s stunning illustrations.


This screen print by Franz Vesolt accompanies the release of Wild Nothing’s ‘Evertide’ EP.

Music and art have always made the best of bedfellows, check so it seems only natural to create a record label that aspires to have musicians and artists support each other through bespoke collaborations. Here’s the premise: each full Warmest Chord release consists of three exclusive tracks and a limited numbered A3 screen print designed by an independent illustrator in direct response to the music. Go to their lovingly prepared blog and you can read about their new inspirations, site ideas and designs, ailment whether it be for a screen print, cover art, a jigsaw or knitting pattern that will accompany their song releases. (And it was a real treat for us to see that the Warmest Chord logo and headermast was created by the illustrator Hannah Warren, whose work featured in Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration). We talked to Becky Randall, one of the founders of Warmest Chord to learn more about this highly creative endeavor.

Tell me the premise behind the idea of the Warmest Chord Record label.

The label was pretty much born out of a desire of wanting to collaborate, create something from scratch, and to offer up something a little different from the standard somewhat cold digital download. We wanted to play around with some ideas and explore other possibilities by adding a craft and handmade element into the mix of download releases. We felt it was only right to offset downloads with beautiful physical artwork that you can own, admire, hang and create attachment and a visual counterpart to the music.

For the second release we introduced downloadable liner notes and also Warmest Chord ‘Calling Cards’ which are handpicked images from scrapbooks, old publications, vintage community magazines, old postcards etc. Each one is a one-off and handstamped by Warmest Chord. We do an edition of 50 per release and we put them in at random with purchases of the screen print. This visual and physical element is really important to us and we want to create a trusted home for new music adding different art ephemera and collectibles with each release.

Who do you have signed at the moment and what type of music are you hoping to sign in the future?

Warmest Chord is still very much a fledgling label as we’ve only had two releases out so far. Our first was the ‘Evertide’ EP from Wild Nothing coupled with a phosphorescent screen print from French illustrator Franz Vesolt. Our second release was from newcomer Slow Talk hand-in-hand with a print from Micah Lidberg. The overwhelming support and little messages from well-wishers and fans was really positive and highlighted just how open music lovers can be to new ideas and combinations. As for the future, our doors, eyes and ears are truly open.


Tell us a little about the artists that you are working with on the screen print side.

For the Wild Nothing release we brought Franz Vesolt on board, an illustrator who focuses on characters and figures, and has an unerring ability to stir up the emotions with a simple line drawing. We felt that he complimented and aestheticised the emotive music of Wild Nothing perfectly. And in comparison to that, there are the bold songs from Slow Talk with just a hint of menace and vulnerability in the mix, which illustrator Micah Lidberg aptly manifested with his twisted vision of nature run wild with colour.


This screenprint by Micah Lidberg is sold alongside the new release by Slow Talk

For each release we’re going to be introducing a new illustrator, and carefully pairing them with the music to ensure they go together like the finest bread and cheese. We also invite them to make-over our logo/ headermast to essentially ‘christen’ each release. Each run of screen prints is limited to just 100, and we endeavour to make each one a beautifully crafted piece of collectible custom-made art that adds value and attachment to the music.



Wild Nothing’s haunting interpretation of the iconic ‘Cloudbusting’ can be brought from the Warmest Chord shop

Turning to the business side; what was your background before this, was it art, or music related?

A little bit of both actually! I studied art at university, tried to write for a living but got very very poor in the process, worked in music promotions then at a couple of labels big and small. I continue to be a fairly free floating entity with fingers in lots of honey jars, including managing the bands Still Corners and The Proper Ornaments

The other half of Warmest Chord spends most of his time begging DJ’s to play records on the radio, as well as running a great little 7”-only label called Make Mine. We both kind of landed on our bellies into the world of Warmest Chord and we’re very pleased that we did.


Steven Ross from Slow Talk photograph by Jane Anne Duddleston

How was this label set up, did you receive funding?  And is this a full time job for everyone at Warmest Chord? 

We’re both based in London, and had to dig deep into our pockets, bumbags, piggy banks and sofa cushions in order to make Warmest Chord happen. There are just two of us at the label and we wrap it around our day jobs using every stolen moment we can fit in our Warmest Chord swag bag in order to indulge another little facet for the label.

What is your long term goals with Warmest Chord?

To keep Warmest Chord a very free and mutable entity, keep building on the craft and visual element, provide a forum for interesting music and always keep an open mind and a flirtatious eye. We’re currently busy working on our next rather special release. But we’re fond of surprises so won’t say any more or the broth will be ruined.


Another example of Micah Lidberg’s stunning illustrations.


This screen print by Franz Vesolt accompanies the release of Wild Nothing’s ‘Evertide’ EP.

Music and art have always made the best of bedfellows, sildenafil so it seems only natural to create a record label that aspires to have musicians and artists support each other through bespoke collaborations. Here’s the premise: each full Warmest Chord release consists of three exclusive tracks and a limited numbered A3 screen print designed by an independent illustrator in direct response to the music. Go to their lovingly prepared blog and you can read about their new inspirations, ideas and designs, whether it be for a screen print, cover art, a jigsaw or knitting pattern that will accompany their song releases. (And it was a real treat for us to see that the Warmest Chord logo and headermast was created by the illustrator Hannah Warren, whose work featured in Amelia’s Anthology of Illustration). We talked to Becky Randall, one of the founders of Warmest Chord to learn more about this highly creative endeavor.

Tell me the premise behind the idea of the Warmest Chord Record label.

The label was pretty much born out of a desire of wanting to collaborate, create something from scratch, and to offer up something a little different from the standard somewhat cold digital download. We wanted to play around with some ideas and explore other possibilities by adding a craft and handmade element into the mix of download releases. We felt it was only right to offset downloads with beautiful physical artwork that you can own, admire, hang and create attachment and a visual counterpart to the music.

For the second release we introduced downloadable liner notes and also Warmest Chord ‘Calling Cards’ which are handpicked images from scrapbooks, old publications, vintage community magazines, old postcards etc. Each one is a one-off and handstamped by Warmest Chord. We do an edition of 50 per release and we put them in at random with purchases of the screen print. This visual and physical element is really important to us and we want to create a trusted home for new music adding different art ephemera and collectibles with each release.

Who do you have signed at the moment and what type of music are you hoping to sign in the future?

Warmest Chord is still very much a fledgling label as we’ve only had two releases out so far. Our first was the ‘Evertide’ EP from Wild Nothing coupled with a phosphorescent screen print from French illustrator Franz Vesolt. Our second release was from newcomer Slow Talk hand-in-hand with a print from Micah Lidberg. The overwhelming support and little messages from well-wishers and fans was really positive and highlighted just how open music lovers can be to new ideas and combinations. As for the future, our doors, eyes and ears are truly open.


Tell us a little about the artists that you are working with on the screen print side.

For the Wild Nothing release we brought Franz Vesolt on board, an illustrator who focuses on characters and figures, and has an unerring ability to stir up the emotions with a simple line drawing. We felt that he complimented and aestheticised the emotive music of Wild Nothing perfectly. And in comparison to that, there are the bold songs from Slow Talk with just a hint of menace and vulnerability in the mix, which illustrator Micah Lidberg aptly manifested with his twisted vision of nature run wild with colour.


This screenprint by Micah Lidberg is sold alongside the new release by Slow Talk

For each release we’re going to be introducing a new illustrator, and carefully pairing them with the music to ensure they go together like the finest bread and cheese. We also invite them to make-over our logo/ headermast to essentially ‘christen’ each release. Each run of screen prints is limited to just 100, and we endeavour to make each one a beautifully crafted piece of collectible custom-made art that adds value and attachment to the music.



Wild Nothing’s haunting interpretation of the iconic ‘Cloudbusting’ can be brought from the Warmest Chord shop

Turning to the business side; what was your background before this, was it art, or music related?

A little bit of both actually! I studied art at university, tried to write for a living but got very very poor in the process, worked in music promotions then at a couple of labels big and small. I continue to be a fairly free floating entity with fingers in lots of honey jars, including managing the bands Still Corners and The Proper Ornaments

The other half of Warmest Chord spends most of his time begging DJ’s to play records on the radio, as well as running a great little 7”-only label called Make Mine. We both kind of landed on our bellies into the world of Warmest Chord and we’re very pleased that we did.


Steven Ross from Slow Talk photograph by Jane Anne Duddleston

How was this label set up, did you receive funding?  And is this a full time job for everyone at Warmest Chord? 

We’re both based in London, and had to dig deep into our pockets, bumbags, piggy banks and sofa cushions in order to make Warmest Chord happen. There are just two of us at the label and we wrap it around our day jobs using every stolen moment we can fit in our Warmest Chord swag bag in order to indulge another little facet for the label.

What is your long term goals with Warmest Chord?

To keep Warmest Chord a very free and mutable entity, keep building on the craft and visual element, provide a forum for interesting music and always keep an open mind and a flirtatious eye. We’re currently busy working on our next rather special release. But we’re fond of surprises so won’t say any more or the broth will be ruined.


Another example of Micah Lidberg’s stunning illustrations.


Illustration by Lesley Barnes

So Saturday morning – day two of London Fashion Week – started off brilliantly. It was p*ssing it down, drugs the tyre on my bike had deflated itself twice and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Gallantly, here if I do say so myself, I hot-stepped it to work to put some articles together, and then when it was time made my way to The Show Space on Northumberland Avenue (where I had been the previous day to view Jean Pierre Braganza’s collection) armed with an umbrella.

Unfortunately, the rest of London’s fashion population were also armed with umbrellas (despite wearing some outfits best saved for hot Summer evenings – gah) and queuing was a bit of a nightmare. Luckily I bumped into my pal Sabrina from The Science of Style, and we huddled together in the queue and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Eventually a call was made for orange stickers and we were ushered inside, and while we waited even more for the show to start, Sabrina filled me in on the gossip with some of the front row-ers.


Illustration by Katie Walters

I’ve always liked Bernard’s aesthetic – always vibrant with an exotic feel. This time around didn’t disappoint, and his signature architectural pieces were on form along with some other softer, flattering designs. Blinding hues of magenta and bursts of orange lit up the catwalk (and our cold, damp hearts) which appeared on hooded dresses and were welcomed on on shift dresses with flamboyantly embroidered patterns that looked like heart-monitor graphs, cutting muted grey dresses in half.


Illustration by Lesley Barnes

This being autumn/winter, there was a unsurprising amount of black in the collection (a bugger to photograph alongside acid brights), with one of my favourite pieces in the collection being an enormous cocoon-like knee-length jacket with exaggerated shoulders and geometric details – confirming Chandran’s status as a showman. Other black jackets were sexed up with neon tights and accessories.

Strutured dresses focussed on waists with details with dresses meeting there and extending away from the body – Chandran creates silhouettes that flatter the fashion-forward woman.

The collection progressed with feathered showpieces in rich reds and bright orange – a pure delight – and a red expertly-embellished onesie. But it was back to black to close the show – an all-in-one covered in delicate feathers and jewels – reminding us of Bernard’s exotic heritage and innate attention to detail.

All photography by Matt Bramford

See more of Lesley Barnes’ illustrations in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration.

Religious to damn by Gemma Smith
Religious to Damn Illustration by Gemma Smith

Religious to Damn‘s lead singer is Zohra Atash, page a cool lady with a batwingged 70s style, a voice a bit like Alison Goldfrapp and Natasha;Bat For Lashes, and an excellent (seemingly well behaved) fringe. The Brooklyn band’s album, Glass Prayer, is out now on M’Lady’s Records. I caught up with Afghan-American Zohra, and asked her a few questions.

Hello, could you introduce yourself for us please?
My name is Zohra Atash, I’m a singer/multi-instrumentalist/songwriter. My primary project is Religious to Damn.

Could you describe what your music is like?
I try to make music that’s atmospheric and elegant, thoughtful and melodic. Some people have said that it’s cinematic and evokes a certain sense of expansiveness, which I’d agree with.

Where are you from?
My parents are Afghan, but I was born in Florida and grew up in Virginia. But I’ve been in Brooklyn for quite some time now.

zohra_83090031
Source

How does London compare to New York? Do you like England?
I’ve been in love with British culture and art for years. I may have had my raising in south, but I lived in a house full of British records – from 60’s British invasion rock, to my sister’s collection of new wave and post-punk. My favorite bands in high school were Lush and Pulp…. I really wanted to move to London and start a band!

Why the name; ‘Religious to Damn’?
I write the music, but I wanted to avoid the stigma that goes with being a singer-songwriter. The name came up in a rather fiery conversation I was having with Josh about people who seem to be attracted to religion primarily so that they can condemn others to hell. We both liked the multiple meanings, (from) Religious to Damn(ation), as in a span, and Religious (in order) to Damn, so it stuck.

Zohra
Source

Tell us about Glass Prayer?
I wanted to make a record you could really immerse yourself in, something with really grandiose imagery. There are a lot of layers. It’s subtle at times, and heavy on the drama as well. It’s meant to reveal itself after multiple listens. We’re inspired very much by artists that maximized the possibilities of production, but the thing about them was that they didn’t beat you over the head with every last sound and idea. Some things may be out in front, but others are buried, carefully placed, left in soft focus. And that’s why they reward multiple listens, because new nuances emerge gradually, and one day you notice things you may not have noticed before. It’s a gamble to make a record like that these days, given how saturated the world is with new music. But we went for it anyway.

Religious-To-Damn-Glass-Prayer

And when will you next be on tour…?
We’re planning to be in the UK/Europe this year, hopefully sooner than later. I’m very excited.

Who would you like to sing with in an ideal world – dead or alive?!
Bryan Ferry

How did you all meet?
Josh and I knew each other for years before we started working together. We had a similar aesthetic. Charlie was a classically trained percussionist, but also just an amazing rock drummer. He has an incredibly full range of capabilities to realize the diverse aspects of the music. Allegra played in a band in Portland called Magick Daggers, as well as The Portland Cello Project, and we had mutual friends, so when she moved to New York, she came on board. And Lea was Charlie’s bandmate in a Balkan punk band, and she’s also a classical musician, so she rounded out our current lineup.

How did you get the position you’re in now?
We put a lot of heart and muscle into getting to the place we’re in now. I dedicated my whole life to this. It’s a labor of love…. it’s what I wanted to do my whole life. We’ve certainly put up with our share of obstacles. Sadly no stories that don’t fall into the category of boring rock doc cliché. It’s not an easy business and New York’s not always a kind town. But we got to where we are through perseverance and the belief that we had something worthwhile to offer to the musical landscape.

How do you see your future?
We’re excited to bring our live show to as many people as want to see it. Believe it or not, the next record’s almost written, and we’re planning on recording it later this year. I’d say the future will be at the very least, eventful. I’ve got lots of ideas, and am always eager to write new songs and record new records. I see a future filled with lots of Religious to Damn music!

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