Shadow Works is the third mainstream studio album by Kerli, considering Utopia as her second, as it was intended to be, and as Kerli herself considers it to be. The album was released worldwide on February 22, 2019, via Seeking Blue. It was preceded by the singles Savages, Better, and Legends. The album reached number 24 on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums chart in the United States.
Years after the release of Utopia, Kerli went through a process of self-discovery, realizing that the "life-goals" and the ambitions she has always had didn't really satisfy her anymore. Once entered the music industry and having success as an artist, she comprehended that she didn't want to become the type of person she has always wanted to be, because, as she declared in a video blog on Youtube, "that identity was outdated". She confessed that she used to cry almost every day for the life she was leading, which clearly didn't fulfil her needs, and that she would have developed "a serious disease of the body" if she didn't quit her life in Los Angels right away. Because of this "extreme burnout", she didn't know if she would ever write music again. Therefore, she decided to move to the Estonian forest, in order to comprehend her feelings and emotions and, ultimately, find a renovated tranquillity and peace, thanks also to the relaxation exercises she began to practice. She started the "slow strenuous process of looking at [herself] for the first time" and also found a way to "make art from [her] soul" again. Meanwhile, her long-time relationship of 9 years ended tragically and resulted in Kerli being absolutely heartbroken and humiliated. She began "a massive transformation process". After the Feral Hearts mini-era, Kerli decided to take a hiatus from all social media (although still posting on Instagram, sometimes) in order to "build a whole new [her]". She wanted to prioritize herself and her care again, improving her spirituality and the overall quality of her life. Shadow Works is the result of this transformation process, it is the highest expression of the externalisation of Kerli's feelings and inner realisations that occurred throughout the years.
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Shadow Works is an exploration of my own shadow, it’s a collection of music designed to connect the listener to their own disowned parts and to honor their hidden self. I explore the feelings of victim-hood, co-dependence, lust, guilt and defeat. There are also frequencies that symbolize the eventual triumph over darkness. The vocal scapes that start, part and end the collection are designed to bring the listener into a meditative state so that Shadow Work can be performed.
In an interview, when asked where was the album finalized, Kerli answered that the mixing and mastering process were made in Los Angeles, but the production took place all over the world. She added that "the producers were from Norway, America and Estonia" because "everything goes by email and it's fast and easy".
Shadow Works is a relative return to Kerli's first album Love Is Dead, which has a gothic sound deeply rock-inspired. However, the production of the 2019 album features more electronic sounds - proper of the EDM world, and large space is given to vocal layers of all sorts. Regarding the comparison between the two projects, Kerli said:
I wanted to keep that Love is Dead gothic mood, I knew I wanted to make a dark album but also something that would be nice to listen to and that would have a new age gothic feel. Guitar strokes and harsh metal vibrations no longer resonate with me. I was thinking about creating a gothic atmosphere for new age kids who don't know Evanescence - I'm very pleased with how it all turned out.
In Jungian psychology, the "shadow" is an unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not identify in itself. It is the home of everything one does not want to see in himself or herself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one's personality, the shadow is largely negative. There are, however, positive aspects that may also remain hidden in one's shadow. Because the shadow is part of one's unconscious mind, it starts to project out upon one's reality without one's awareness. Therefore, the shadow causes a lost of distortions to one's experience of reality, resulting in a loose of clarity and wisdom about the situation the individual is in. However, with processes like "shadow work", one can start to reintegrate those disowned and repressed aspect of himself/herself in order to regain awareness.
Kerli revealed the official album artwork for Shadow Works from November 27, 2018, to December 4, through social media. The artwork was shot by Estonian photographer Jörgen Paabu. The cover depicts Kerli standing, in a black dress, in front of a full black background. She is holding two Ankhs, an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol that was most commonly used to represent the word for "life" and, by extension, as a symbol of life itself. The waxing crescent moon on top of Kerli’s head symbolises a new beginning, a moment where people can send their desires to the world, a positive message of hope. For the logo, some Greek letters are being used: "Ξ" instead of "E" and "Δ" instead of "A". Furthermore, the symbol for bilabial click "ʘ" substitutes the letter "O".
Through an Instagram post, Kerli revealed that it took her about 6 months to conceptualize, sketch and handmake everything shown in the cover arts. All of the different materials, once gathered from USA, Estonia and Asia, were all transported to Kerli's Moon Temple, which served as a "headquarter" for the Shadow Works visuals. Kerli started the process of creating and manufacturing things, spacing from dresses made of foam roll to "super high boots with random silk fabrics tied around them".
Release and promotionEdit
In an interview with an Estonian news website Menu, Kerli said that, after her experiences with the music industry, she wasn't sure she would pursue the musical career anymore since she "got to a place where it all looked very dark" and she "was stuck with [herself]. Therefore, she retired in the Estonian forests "to find herself" and, "there in the woods, miraculous changes began to take place in [er], and a new creative outburst and burning in the soul arose". After the release of the four 2016 singles Feral Hearts, Blossom, Diamond Hard and Spirit Animal, she decided to abandon the project of an album "heavily Estonian inspired". music and visuals. Later on, in 2018, she signed a contract with the Canadian record label Seeking Blue: Kerli said that she "gave them a record and a visual, people believed in [her] and [she] had complete creative freedom".
Via PledgeMusic her team announced that the first single, Savages, off the new version of the third album, was scheduled to be released on November 30, 2018, while the album was slated for release on February 22, 2019. Through an Instagram live streamed on January 5, 2019, Kerli confirmed that Better would be released as the second single off the album on January 18, 2019. The release date was confirmed on January 15. Kerli began posting image teasers on Instagram and other social media platforms on February 5 to announce Legends would be released on Friday 8. She also stated that a fourth single would be released along with the album; this fourth single, as of August 2019, has not been released yet. The day before its official release, the album was premiered via livestream on YouTube channel MrSuicideSheep. Regarding the specific release date, Kerli said she was "very happy to have such a release date" because "22 is such a master number in numerology" and that "it was completely random, but a cool surprise from the universe".
The music video for Savages was released on March 21, 2019, and, on that day, Kerli started a digital storybook on her Instagram account to promote the song and to expand the universe created in the video. The physical edition of the album was available to anyone who pre-ordered the album on PledgeMusic. Moreover, as there were other 500 copies left, Kerli's label Seeking Blue opened a store on Bandcamp, and the orders started shipping on March 15.
- Main article: Shadow Works Ceremony
Kerli performed, for the first time, some of the Shadow Works songs in a private show in Hong Kong on March 3, 2019. On May 6, Kerli has begun to work on the Shadow Works Tour (later officially renamed Shadow Works Ceremony), making concept images for the visuals, editing sounds and "beats" and starting to talk to directors and experts to make everything she has imagined come to reality. Later on, in June, when trying to come up with a name for the show, she asked her Moonchildren on Instagram for some suggestion: on June 25 she announced, with an Instagram Story, that the show will be called Shadow Works Ceremony. She performed the Shadow Works Ceremony for the first time on August 3, 2019 at Intsikurmu, an annual festival held in Estonia that celebrates all forms of art.
|1.||The Opening of the Way (Intro)||Kerli Kõiv||Kerli||1:51|
|2.||Mimicry||Kõiv, Even Sarucco||EvenS||4:34|
|3.||Everybody Bleeds the Same||Kõiv, Andrew Richard Burns||Crash Cove||4:02|
|4.||Savages||Kõiv, David Dahlquist, Sarucco||Kill Dave||3:09|
|5.||One||Kõiv, Ago Teppand, Afshin Salmani||Jéja, AFSHeeN||3:20|
|7.||Legends||Kõiv, Christian Buettner, Josh Cumbee, Gennessee Lewis, Caitlin Morris, Marcello Pagin, Salmani||Cumbee, AFSHeeN||2:58|
|8.||Where the Dark Things Are||Kõiv||AFSHeeN, Varien||3:40|
|9.||Better||Kõiv, Burns||Crash Cove||3:44|
|10.||Giving Up the Ghost||Kõiv, Trevor Christensen||Said the Sky||4:12|
|12.||Shadow Works (Outro)||Kõiv||Kerli||3:43|
Credits and personnelEdit
Credits are adapted from website Beatport Top Tracker.
Musicians and producers
Visuals and design
- Gerda Miller – makeup
- Jörgen Paabu – photography, design
- Jörn Wallenwein – raven image
- Kaja Seppel (Ilusalong Intersalon) – hair stylist
- Kerli Kõiv – creative direction, styling
- Liina Heck (Ilusalong Intersalon) – hair stylist
- Urmas Lüüs – black iron ankhs
- Cyrus Saidi – manager
Labels and publishing companies
|Chart (2019)||Peak position|
|American iTunes Chart||36|
|Australian iTunes Chart||51|
|Brazilian iTunes Chart||22|
|US Heatseekers Albums (Billboard)||24|
|Canadian iTunes Chart||62|
|Italian iTunes Chart||82|
|Various||February 22, 2019||Digital download, streaming||Seeking Blue|||
|March 15, 2019||CD (limited edition)|||
|Estonia||March 28, 2019|||