Vocal Artist | Musician | Lyricist | Composer | Producer
California Widow is a brand, music project, and art by Darja Vaarsi. Estonian Actress, Model, Singer, HMUA/Stylist, Photo Editor, Producer, retired Veterinary Technician, and Paralegal. She’s worked on Amazon, Showtime, Netflix, HULU, Fox (Empire), NBC, shows, films, commercials, number one MTV music videos (Lena Katina/Tatu), various fashion publications (Vogue, Elegant Magazine), done runway, gallery exhibits, and film/album covers.
Her music ranges from gothic country, folk, rock, shoe-gaze, blues, to metal but she works in all genres and released industrial music under Darja Vaarsi. She contributes music to soundtracks (Amazon Prime) and is the founder of solo endeavor California Widow. She contributed vocals and produced music videos for Deeper Graves (Wolvhammer, Nachtmystium, Yakuza) and backing vocals for Chrome Waves. Her music premiered worldwide in 2020 being featured in Dark Beauty, Decibel Magazine, Pop Matters, and Brooklyn Vegan among others.
She was born in Estonia and came to America with her family as a political refugee. Her family bribed their way out of the USSR & trekked thousands of miles across Europe homeless for over half a decade with just the clothing on their backs and their St. Bernard Pelia. After sponsorship by Italian diplomats and collaboration with American intelligence, they were provided asylum in America. Her family is of noble descent, her great grandfather was a personal guard to Imperial Nikolai and belonged to The Page Corps (Пажеский корпус). Her great grandmother was a personal companion to Tzarina Alexis, wife of Nikolai the second. Her father Igor was an Estonian freedom fighter and war hero that survived wrongful imprisonment and torture for over a decade by the KGB and a gunshot to the head at age fourteen. He saved the lives of countless youth that were wrongfully incarcerated. He was classically trained in fencing, horseback riding, and ballroom dancing growing up in the basement of a castle that was confiscated by Russia but that his gaurdian Natalia was permitted to maintain. There they kept rare paintings his family had rescued by famed artist Karl Bryullov. On her mother's side, her great-great-grandmother Elisaveta Alekseevna Shabalina belonged to the noble Shabalin household.
She comes from a long line of classical musicians, both of her parents were folk singers, her mother played piano and accordion while her father guitar. She began writing music in the 4th grade when she created and put on a play for her elementary school on the topic of environmentalism and different social circles involving students from all grades. Since age fourteen, she carved a path on her own overcoming foster care, rape, domestic violence, a near-fatal gunshot wound, among other hardships. One of her favorite jobs was working as an animal trainer in The Amazing Acro-cats cat circus. She works with non-profits focusing on animal rescue, welfare, environmental, wildlife and ocean conservation, previously running animal rights branches and remote camera projects with the Fish & Wildlife Dept in the PNW. She is plant-based, has a passion for photography, stunt training, fitness, adventure sports, the great outdoors, surfing, is a nationally certified sailor working towards a captain's license, and her debut solo album.