Friends, artists and collaborators, Erin Axtell and Zenia Sevastyanova were meant to be.
- Photography: Kathy Lo
As an artist and student of energy therapy, Zen sees alchemy in the world around her, and in the chance events that define a person’s life. Case in point: her accidental encounter with Erin, which led to an enduring friendship. A painter and musician for her eponymous band Axtell, Erin looks to Zen as a source of inspiration and collaboration. Together, the friends share a unique outlook on the world, and a salty sense of humor. We sat down with the pair for their account of what keeps their friendship strong, from deep connections to dirty jokes.
Tell me how you two met.
Erin: We met at a casting. When I first saw her, I thought, wow, she’s just like a fairy.
Zen: I’m really more of a witch!
Erin: A fairy is a witch, depending on your outfit.
Zen: That’s true. I like that.
Erin: We got along right away. Then, when I left the casting, I accidentally took her book, and she took mine. And we had the same agent at the time.
Zen: So, we met again to exchange our books, and we’ve been friends ever since.
Erin, what sets Zen apart?
Erin: The way she feels when she walks into her room. She’s illuminating—you just want to be next to her.
Zen, what about Erin?
Zen: Oh my god, her laugh. It says everything about her. It’s so childlike, and alive, and vibrant and creative. Also she is immortal! She always looks amazing, just a total witch / fairy princess.
Are you two similar? How so?
Zen: Well, we’re both old souls. Very honest—brutally honest. Definitely not shy.
Erin: Dirty jokes are really keeping us together. My heart beats to dirty jokes, as does yours.
Zen: Absolutely. We’re both foul mouthed. That’s our common denominator, for sure.
Tell me more about your friendship. What makes it work?
Erin: We can go weeks or months without getting together, but we don’t have to ‘maintain’ our friendship in order to have that closeness.
Zen: There’s no neediness, it’s very organic. Just overflowing appreciation for one-another.
Erin: When we see each other, we’ll sort of merge our spiritual tips. We could open up some cards and give each other readings. We’ll paint together.
Zen: Erin always anoints me with essential oils, which is awesome.
Sounds like spirituality is important to both of you. Do you believe in magic?
Zen: Oh my god, I whole-heartedly believe in magic. I always have, but you begin to believe in it even more when you start seeing it in everyday events. When you are in sync with yourself, the most unlikely situations come together in episodes of synchronicity, and random events become so important in your life.
Erin: Magic is what makes the world turn. It’s connection. It’s presence, and projection.
Zen: The more you tune into the nature, the more you find magic all around you. Sitting by a tree, you understand how it’s a living creature that’s allowing you to be in its space.
Erin: When she’s in nature, she’s usually naked too. She’ll, like, become the tree.
Zen, you’ve also described Erin as magical. Can you elaborate on that?
Zen: Well, Erin is an incredible singer. She’s one of the people who, when she sings, she transcends herself.
Erin: Thank you.
Zen: When creation becomes such a deep part of your life, it says everything about you—Erin is embodiment of that.
Erin: Am I blushing?
Zen: It suits you. It’s a sign of a pure heart.
And what does alchemy mean to you?
Erin: The blending of colors. I’m a painter, so the way I see it, everything is color. We’re all made up of little tiny particles that blend together to create new colors.
Zen: For me, alchemy is about combining things: combining colors, or crystals, combining ingredients during cooking, even combining people.
Like your chemistry with Erin.
Zen: Absolutely, there’s alchemy there.