Although it was released in a piecemeal fashion—the sultry yet commanding tune “Clutch” produced by Mukund Komanduri came out in May 2020, followed by a slew of singles like “Goddess,” “Universe,” “Wolf ” and “Boomerang” featuring hip-hop duo Flyana Boss—the concept tied High Priestess together.
The artist had moved back from Los Angeles to Mumbai and was dealing with the emotional turmoil of all kinds. “I was grieving a lot: moving, heartbreak, growing up, rediscovering community, etc. And then the pandemic hit,” she says. Losing contact with friends and now being away in India, away from her friends in the U.S., Nikitaa also lost her paternal grandmother last year. “All the while I longed to return to Los Angeles and the sense of belonging and community I discovered there, and was trying to come back to my inner joy. All of this is what the album is about, really,” she adds.
She eked out her journey to joy, confidence, and more on High Priestess, which also features experiments in sampling, like on “Bluebeard,” a meditative track that includes the cry of a koyal. Nikitaa adds that the song is inspired by the book Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. It delves on archetypes, folk tales, and ancient wisdom, all of which are tied into the ideas of High Priestess, including the title track as well as regal pop cuts like “Goddess” and “Empress.”
In an interview with Rolling Stone India, Nikita speaks about the themes that informed the record, and what she has lined up for 2022. Excerpts:
What was it like completing this album during the pandemic? Would you have done things differently if you were, say, performing shows?
Honestly, it was very freeing to create this body of work during the pandemic, simply because there was no one around that I was bouncing ideas off of. I was put in the unique position of creating and critiquing everything by myself, which was an exercise in trust.
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