The Duty of the Iranian Artist

To all you artists who moved out of Iran: you did not sell out by being free


The Duty of the Iranian Artist
by bahmani

In the past few years, the emergence of "The Free Iranian Artist" and Free Iranian art has become more and more popular as the discourse on Iran, the relation to Islam, freedom, and politics, has shifted out of first into second, possibly third gear.

If you are an Iranian artist, in my opinion, your first duty is to yourself, and second, to me (as one of your fans), to be FREE. Free to express your art in any way that you want. To do this, you must obviously, simply, survive. You cannot stifle. You cannot suffocate. You cannot go to jail. You cannot die. That will silence you forever, or worse, taint your art with the polluted scent and everlasting stain of oppression. Art borne from torture, is psychotherapy, not art. Certainly not an act of heroism. I do not require you to be a hero, or to even be ideal. But I do require you to be an idealist.

Anyone who celebrates the work of a tortured artist, is a culture-vulture of the worst kind, picking rotten meat, off dying bones.

Many Iranian artists, whether in music, film, or traditional art, have left Iran these past 30 years. Many even before that, under the debatably equally oppressive times of the Shah. But in my opinion, leaving Iran to express yourself artistically is not a cowardly act of abandonment that some inside Iran claim it to be. But it can be considered a brave expression of national duty. If you can leave Iran, you are merely very lucky to do so. Iranian artists inside Iran who cannot leave, are simply unlucky. It may not be fair, but that's just the way luck, and art, works. There's no Zerring about luck. Could have been, should have been, doesn't matter in the cold cruel cosmos.

In the music sphere, although bands like Kiosk or 127 or Hypernova may have started out, literally underground in Iran, the fact is, that today they have been redefined by their very migration to the States. Many complain that outside of Iran these bands are no longer the pure voice of oppressed Iranian youth, the image of the hardcore underground Tehran band. Today though, to me, KIOSK is a prime example of a new category of Iranian musical artist, the "free Iranian dissident band". This carries in many ways, far more responsibility and credibility than an artist stuck inside the basement of a luxury home in northern Tehran. The Iranian artist who chooses to stay inside Iran, is admirable, but ultimately and largely untrustworthy. For obvious reasons.

Some artists like Mohsen Namjoo seem to be able to coast precariously through the deep and stormy waters of censorship and objection, momentarily floating on the crest, but always with the fear of instant submersion. This is a fluid situation, and I doubt, in the end, he will be able to hold his tongue and continue his vague references and critique of the system, too much longer. Especially with his recent works becoming bolder and harsher, he appears poised, and seems to be building up to a turrets-syndrome of explosive opposition. But who knows, he might sell out and go back to Iran, sign an apology for the government, and bite his tongue all the way back to Mashad and Torbateh Jam.

The risk is naturally predictable. That inside Iran, the artist will simply wear down, and give in, and become like a Benyamin or an Arian Band, tools of an oppressive system, who sell off their art for the mere price of their principles, cheapened now for convenience and simple, understandable survival. Or, more likely, that they will self-censor. When surrounded, the self preservation motive, allows the Stockholm Syndrome to occur all to easily and very naturally. Almost sweet in it's intoxicating taste.

I'll now add and argue that Iranian art that is not free, is not true Iranian art.

If Iran is not "free", it is therefore the duty of the (true) Iranian artist to save Iranian art. It is not the job of the Iranian artist to change Iran, however. I do not expect you to talk about an idealized Iran in your lyrics, show valiantly comedic dirt poor village children from Mazandaran in your films, or paint sweeping pictures of Zagros landscapes with minarets in the sunset. It's great, and I can even say, as an occasionally unwilling culture-vulture, I love it, but I do not actually require it, to love the Iranian artist.

What I require instead, is that you merely grow and move forward as an Iranian artist. The ongoing development and refinement of your Iranian-ness, free from oppression, creating free art, is what interests me. That's what I will argue, moves our culture forward. Stifled oppressively obsessively compulsed art does nothing for our collective growth, except honor the prison guard within each of us, still within each of us, today.

The sad state of the boorish beshkan besotted 6/8 from LA, is the worst example of the Iranian artist trapped in his own skin. As the ultimate sellout. Too afraid to make something new that Caltex might not like. As a result, everyone re-manufactures the same garbage, is still broke, and worse, now fighting each other for scraps off the "Aroosi Market", or the Xmas Las Vegas shows (with complimentary Free Buffet!). Literally barking like the dogs they've become.

I'll also argue that in fact, Iranian art has never been free. Not under the Shah, nor this government, nor trapped by the Masters of the Los Angeles Dubai time portal. So I am patiently curious to see what happens to Iranian art, whenever an Iranian artist emerges who is actually, truly free.

So, to all you artists who moved out of Iran, you did not sell out by being free, and making your music, films, and art freely. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Don't let anyone tell you what Iranian art is. You are at the helm of our future. You have in fact, put yourself in the correct, intelligent, dissident, and logical position of freely stating your message. From the safety and freedom that this side of the fence offers. So stop feeling guilty for leaving home, and get on with it!

And to tose of you who gleefully listen to Benyamin, or blast Arian Band CD's in their cousin's Paykan, as they shuttle between luxurious vacations with the kids to Tehran or it's newfound colony Dubai, to stuff their fattened-in-America faces with 90cm chelo-kabab, for the summer months;

The fence may appear to be very pretty today, and even painted in bright colors for your Iroonieh-Moghimeh-Amrika amusement, but it is still a very real fence. Now go straighten up that roosari on your 12 year old daughter. Her aspiration is showing.


more from bahmani

The Mrs: How to define Iranianness

by bahmani on

Clearly, I don't have to worry about you. Your points are well taken. Glad I was able to bring them out so everyone could read where your head is on the subject. Trust me, a relief to read your comments. Yours are yours, mine are mine, opinions on what art is, or ought to be created from. Clearly you think pain is a valid source of good art. I can't go there. To me Art from pain is like a confession from a tortured prisoner. I simply can't trust it's truth precisely because of the conditions.

Actually there is plenty of original work coming from places like South Africa (recently freed) as well as some amazing ideas from former eastern bloc countries (also recently freed), so I beg to disagree that originality is lost. But as you said, you're just there to boogie and you state you have no use for music to be original. I'm too old to boogie, so I'm just there for the music. Have always been. To me music is an art form, not something to get my boogie on to. However, before you say it, I'll grant you, that boogie-ing is also art, but without original music to boogie to, boogie-ing loses it's originality. Almost instantly. You can't baba karam to techno. But don't get me started on how lame and retarded Iranian boogie-ing has become! Talk about stagnation!

I agree that art shouldn't have geographical or political or emotional pre-requisites. But you can only say that if the artist is free. Given the reality that the Iranian artist finds him/herself in these days, namely largely oppressed if inside Iran, it becomes an objection factor. It keeps us from moving forward as a people. A fact that the oppressors appear to understand and know too well.

As far as Persian techno goes. I simply have a hard time listening to pre-recorded loops taken from other more popular european techno songs, the kind you get from those $29.95 Euro-pop-loops software packages set to a 6/8 beat, lamenting the same old boring wimpy lyric about how the singer wishes he could burn his liver for a girl who doesn't pay any attention to him. Be a man! To really relax, play any song off Shahin & Sepehr's first album. It was made in the US, and is totally and utterly a prime example of new, original music, chock full of freedom and inherent Iranianness.


To the esteamed Sima jan:

by bahmani on

I thought that the reason to draw a conclusive line between oppression and freedom would be obvious, but I'll try again. Yes, of course Iranian art created during or as a result of the emotional trauma of the Iran-Iraq war for example, is important. Absolutely. But my suggestion is that our culture (ie how cultured or civilized we are, or the level our Iranian civilization has attained), is defined precisely by the achievements of our free (from oppression) art. That is my suggestion. I simply find it impossible for our culture to move forward, towards an unfiltered destiny, while under oppression.

While I enjoy a good 6/8 melody as a nostalgic reminder of a better day, I don't count on it too much. That has a danger of becoming an obsession that can drift you away from reality. And maybe that is my whole problem with it. My aversion to selling out is also based on my disappointment in the artist who having a chance to be a true hero and champion of his people would sell out to oppression and self censor. It's not a requirement that they be heroes, just a huge disappointment, when they are not.


To Kourosh S

by bahmani on

OK let's go point by point, and I want to make sure we don't get off civility, I'll let a few things you tried to say sheytoonly, slide for now, we'll see how it goes;

No, I meant ideal in the sense of perfection, that I do not expect Iranian artists to be perfect. Just strive for it. Or be idealistic. It is a hope or wish, not a demand. Please accept it as such.

I'm not sure you got my point right so I'll try and be clearer. Iranian artists unlucky enough to remain in Iran, are untrustworthy (not as people, just their art), because we will never know what their true potential would have been if they were un-oppressed or free. So I think we agree. Sort of.

As far as dissident Iranian bands being legit, I disagree with a few issues you posed. There is absolutely NO financial incentive to being an Iranian musical artist today unless you are Googoosh, or the LA promoters who sell those Las Vegas packages. Ask anyone in it and they will tell you that the Iranian music market is pitiful. By market I mean selling music. Of course we all love Iranian music, but apparently according to the sellers, we rarely pay for it. So whether you want it to be so or not, most Iranian bands are doing it largely for free, or funding their own productions out of pocket via day jobs. Yes, even KIOSK. The voice of the dissident Iranian band outside of the oppressed environment of Iran though, to me, is free expression though, and it certainly can be a factor. I do not discount their voice because they are here. I disagree with the validity of Iranian underground music. I have simply not found it to be as anti-establishmentarianist as I had hoped, as some western music has been, even though western music has had far far less to complain about. So I'm largely disappointed by Iranian underground music. And I beg you to allow me question it's impact. Especially given the results so far.

I do not accuse Iranian artists of self censorship in order to survive in Iran. That is an obvious fact of nature. I totally understand it. I simply disagree that it would ever produce unoppressed art. And that's OK too.

I would also never suggest that I know what Iranian art is, or ought to be. I am suggesting that we look at the situation we are in, and although there are many many many examples of how oppression affects us, that the impact on our art is just as important. And that I believe that when our art is free, our culture, or it's level moves forward. That might be good, that might be bad, but it is forward motion, not stagnancy. I think we are starting to move, but have been largely stagnant. I mean just look around. Show me something new and original.

You use the word promoter, but I think you imply something else. So to clarify, I am not a promoter in the sense you implied it. I do however, promote free contemporary Iranian art every chance I get. That is certainly a bias I am honored to show!

If your suggestion in the promotion area is to somehow indicate I have a financial motive, please call me now, I will take you to my bank (while it is still in business) and show you my bank account. My bank account is so empty, that KIOSK wants to use it to record their next album, the acoustics are very echoey!


Nagofti, how do I refine my Iranianness?

by TheMrs on

Maybe I didn’t understand your article. However!

I find it disturbing that you are disgusted by any music! For me, puke, snot, war and poverty are disgusting. Polka isn’t for me but it’s not disgusting.

Iranian 6/8 is appropriate and entertaining in some settings. Its consumers aren’t limited or defined by it.

“What's next? All artists should be tortured in-studio to see what they can really draw?” Pain is a part of the human experience but I never said it’s the ONLY source of inspiration.  

“Iranian culture will move forward only when our artists are free from political and creative oppression, and can take us somewhere new”  

Political limitations give birth to great art. Look internationally at art produced during wars or revolutions! Historically, it has taken us forward and toward new frontiers. In fact, more has been accomplished during repressive regimes. Besides, the statement above is not accurate. There’s no such thing as creative oppression, just oppression of expression.

Now if you have issues with gham o ghosseh in Persian culture, that’s a whole different issue! I am sick and tired or Aseel music that’s rozeh khooni! Even the ones with up beat music have depressing lyrics or vise versa. But that’s a whole different subject.

Original work? No such thing as purely original work. Everything has already been done. Artists just redefine them to their own lives and times. If you’re talking about 6/8, I don’t care about originality. What do I care if a singer who probably has a day job but sings in some las vegas irooni concert produces something original? I’m there to boogy, originality isn’t a requirement of that type of art. It has a different purpose.

Just like posters are different from paintings, romance novels are differnt from novels and technical documents aren't poetry!

Art shouldn’t have the emotional, geographical or political pre requisites you seem to require. Don’t be hatin’! Disgusting, untrsutworthy, vultures and so on are very bizarre words for this subject. And you're logic is probably affected by not listening to persian techno. Try it once in a while, it will relax you.


If I may join the bahs...

by sima on

I do think The Mrs. makes some good points and I agree with her that the article is a bit self-contradictory. But I also think Bruce is up to something, or at least up to something that I'm interested in! And that is the question of authenticity.

In the case of Iran, is a particular kind of suffering in combination with residence in the country necessary for a piece of art to be considered authentic? What about a particular tradition or aesthetic? A few years ago I saw an Iranian film with a couple of good American friends of mine who are devoted fans of "world music" (students of all kinds of "ethnic" music and instruments). They complained that the background music (Glenn Gould playing Bach's Goldberg Variations) while the protagonist was driving in an old car to check out some shady Iranians on the border of Iraq was inappropriate. They wanted something more "authentic" -- say a plaintive tar solo. Now, you and I know why listening to Bach in such a journey is actually very authentic, because you and I have seen it done a million times. During the Iraqi bombardments a friend of mine who would drive out of town to camp with his children would blare Wagner against the backdrop of the roar of the Iraqi bombers. Can you think of a more "authentic" setting for Wagner?!

I think as far as good art goes all boundaries are irrelevant. Neither the art nor the artist is obliged to observe boundaries set by place, culture, society, politics, whatever. And in the case of Iran, I don't see why we must draw such a conclusive line between doroun-marzi and boroun-marzi.

I'm glad Bruce started such a serious discussion -- and I'm a sucker for 6/8 too! But where I really take objection with him is his concern with "selling out." If Namjoo signs on with Disney or Kiosk with the neocons, then I will consider using the phrase!


How much creativity is enough for you?

by Kourosh S (not verified) on


Isn't the word you meant to use "idol" rather than "ideal"?
You are not being very clear on one point. You say that so many artists have left the country and pretty much based on their luck, but those who eitherhad to or chose to stay in iran can not be trustworthy (you did not even bother to mention at least one good obvious!! reason as to why they are not to be trusted)yet you call a band such the Kiosk a pure representative of the opressed youth, knowing full well that they got their start from those very basements be in Luxurius homes or elsewhere? What is the distigushing factor here?

You are so forgetting,in all of your essays one main point, and here is where i agree with those who declare these "newly refined" bands as no longer the symbol of dissidence in iran, when they reach over to the other side of the pond, because all of a sudden the issue becomes who is going to generate more fans, in order for it to still be profitable for recording companies to sign deals with them. If being the voice of iranian youth is the big objective here, why can it not be done for free? I am sure they can find other ways to support themselves.

As a promoter of art yourself, you are doing a huge disservice to accuse the bands in iran of self-censorship, that they do because they are not lucky enough to leave, and also because they have to abide by certain measures inorder to continue their work.

I suggest that you take a trip to iran, have a sit-down, face to face with them and come up with an alternative! show them the way.

The problem with your assertions is that, you obsessively advocate for more creativeness and originality, you keep rasing the standards, without coming up with a recepie, some suggestions, nothing whatsoever. I guess as the former owner and founder of a art-promoting website and the current promoter of a certain kind of iranian music! it is your job to keep pushing and pushing and then some.


To: TheMrs. We agree more than we disagree...

by bahmani on

Thanks for your passionate response. My point is not an intellectualized one, to be sure. I was just using words that sound intellectual-ish. If you know my pieces, you know that I continually express my utter disgust with what is validly termed "6/8 LA Music". Sorry if you support it. Love it if you must, just know that I don't, OK? I will agree with you absolutely, that the production value of the "same old 6/8 song" has definitely gone up. Lord, it's possibly as high as 1984 by now! (Isn't that when those cool drum-machine-euro-techno-pop-keyboard-sounds first came out?)

When I mention Benyamin and Arian band, I am talking about what is marketed as "cool music" from Iran, I am not lumping in all kinds of artists.

When I mention IMA, I am talking about the Iranian that blindly ignores what they see, when they take the kiddies and go to Iran for the summer, and use Iran for fun, but then shut their eyes and mouths when they see stuff, so as not to jeopardize the "fun". That's a crticism of what I always hope will become better more just Iranians one day. It's an expression of frustration at our cowardice, how we never stand up. You will never get me to shut my mouth or stifle that observation, my dear. Until you stand up, and speak out.

I absolutely disagree that pain is a good source of inspiration. What's next? All artists should be tortured in-studio to see what they can really draw? I do not think that an artist that is not free to pursue their art in any direction they choose (that is the freedom part), is really defining and pushing OUR (you and me's) culture forward. My only point (apparently not well said nor heard), is that our Iranian culture will move forward (not backwards and stay stagnant as the 6/8 beat would have us), only when our artists are free from political and creative oppression, and can take us somewhere new. Anything else (as evidenced by the state of Iranian Music, Film and Art in general, again my opinion only) is temporary distraction, with the occasional variation on a theme. Usually lifted.

Assuming that you understood what I just stated, now go look at ANY Iranian Art in the last X years, and bring me an original work, that has not been influenced by, varied, or outright copied off an existing work, usually one from the west. Find me ONE ORIGINAL NEW (not 6/8) WORK and I will totally recount my piece. Gladly so.

I honestly don't think you read my piece right (or possibly didn't understand some of it), in some points you disagree with me, when I have already expressed as much as your point already. So I'm not sure why you disagree, when you often make the same point as I did, then position it as your argument against mine. Just a suggestion, but this isn't going to work well, if we're both talking the shame S**t. :o)


Good article but you are

by TheMrs on

Good article but you are setting so many rules! It just doesn't seem very well thought out. Bebakhshid. Just being honest here. You say “Anyone who celebrates the work of a tortured artist, is a culture-vulture of the worst kind” like it’s a bad thing! What do you mean by “celebrate” and “torture”? Tahereh Ghoratoleyn was tortured. Iranian women’s art is borne from tortured lives. Some of the best art comes out during times of oppression and by politically active/tortured artists.

Perhaps you are you speaking figuratively as in ze tortured arteest? Modigliani, S. Hedayat, River Pheonix, Jim Morrison etc weren’t sane.  “Art borne from torture, is psychotherapy, not art.” So you’ll determine what is and isn’t art? 

“Many complain that outside of Iran these bands are no longer the pure voice of oppressed Iranian youth”

Cuz they’re not! They only have their roots there and if they were to limit themselves to that, they would suck and be forgotten. Today, Kiosk is a band of male Iranian immigrants to America, reminiscing about Tehran (good, bad & ugly) and coming to terms with immigration, disillusionment and finding their way in these modern but alienating times.  

“The Iranian artist who chooses to stay inside Iran, is admirable, but ultimately and largely untrustworthy”

WTF! Why? There are millions of people living in Iran out of choice; thousands of them are artists (in the broadest sense). Get used to it babe. Not everyone wants to live in the Bay Area.

Manjoo “might sell out and go back to Iran, sign an apology for the government, and bite his tongue all the way back to Mashad and Torbateh Jam

What if an artist’s inspiration comes from Iran? That’s a sell out too?

“That inside Iran, the artist will simply wear down… sell off their art for the mere price of their principles, cheapened now for convenience”

Oh my God. Take it easy there. Not all artists in Iran are Benyamin you know.  There are painters, actors etc.

“I'll now add and argue that Iranian art that is not free, is not true Iranian art.”

Who defines free or freedom? Even you mention yourself Iran has never been free!!! So you define Iranian identity too?

It seems that you are condemning art to the political and national boundaries that may or may not define an artist’s feelings and abilities. It’s a very narrow view. And I bet that if you go to a museum or start listing artists you enjoy, most of them would break all the rules you set out here.

“it is therefore the duty of the (true) Iranian artist to save Iranian art”…

I beg to differ! What obligation does an artist have to begin with? He is doomed to an innate need to express himself. If bystanders happen to appreciate it, great. But he doesn't owe us or Iran anything.


 “What I require instead, is that you merely grow and move forward as an Iranian artist”

Are we talking about personal growth? Then how can we measure how others are growing or not? If 127's next album isn't critically acclaimed, then they would have moved backward instead of forward?

“refinement of your Iranian-ness”

I don’t even understand what that means. How can I refine my Iranian ness please. I am not being sarcastic. I really would love to know how this is done. Are we talking about grace and class or focus and concentration or music?

"The sad state of the boorish beshkan besotted 6/8 from LA”

Excuse me. Momento. Dimbool Iranian music seems to have developed and advanced with the times. New beats. New instruments. New arrangements. Better studios and so on. Just because it isn’t your thing, it doesn’t mean that it has no value.

Do you want to be limited to Bach, Namjoo and Shajarian in your life? What are you going to dance to at your next party? May I remind you that Googoosh, Daryoush and people like Ramesh and SHahram Shabpareh have taken Iranian music to places it wouldn't have gone if it was stuck in ghamarol molook!

Your description of iranian pop music is very snobbish. And there's not intellectual value or valuable social critique with snobishness.

 Caltex has marketing needs like any other company. I bet of Kiosk decided to re do a club remix of baba karam with DJ Jazzy Jeff, their label might object too!  

“And to tose of you who gleefully listen to Benyamin, or blast Arian Band CD's in their cousin's Paykan”

Stop it with the unrealistic, judgmental, 3rd grade “mamanam be to ab nabaat nadaad” tone. Ok?


Btw, you have a green card or an American passport? So now we have sub sections of this group? Cool ones and those who are not free?

Just come out and say it, you think the music you listen to is cooler than some others and you want to intellectualize it. That’s ok with me.

But you are right here. Self preservation isn’t selling out.  

I think you are way way way off on this one.


What a great article!

by sima on

This is the best commentary on contemporary Iranian art that I've read in a long time. It's absolutely true that it is not your mailing address that determines the authenticity of your art. I am particularly disgusted with the way western media and other "promoters" of the art world impose their own political agenda on evaluating Iranian artists. 127 is good because they're good musicians and not because they're Iranian underground or they're here or there. Mohsen Namjoo is good in Iran and even better here when he is accompanied by excellent American musicians. His music -- and "message" -- become more poignant that way. Good artists do not need patronizing political correctness or any kind of agenda.

Thanks Bruce for your sharp observations. As far as I'm concerned you're the kind of music critic who should be more widely published on Iranian music.

Nader Vanaki

Joe's Garage

by Nader Vanaki on

Most bands in Iran are garage bands and if they are very careful and lucky they might get a gig in an empty warehouse in the middle of a typical Karaj baagh (garden) for their friends and relatives.

Coming to the West is not a sellout move as Bruce stresses and personally I like the interaction with Western music and exposure to other talents in the business can produce some good music too.

I do declare myself a fan of 6/8 every time it was played in a party in vataan since most likely I was drunk and the stage was just perfect for me to break out into my 6/8 dance.  So there is some merit to this music too. 

I really think that Reza Sadeghi, Arian and Benyamin are very talented and I don't care too much if they don't sing about the plight of Iranian youth, since Namjoo has got that cornered pretty good.

All /n/ all there is plenty to go around and it is all fun.


Very passionate writing

by IRANdokht on

Dear Mr Bahmani

I enjoyed reading your article and I found it to be very passionate. Your advice to the artists that left Iran is very thoughtful and reassuring too. I am sure they will experience some criticism or writer's block or even a culture shock that would cause them problems, and your reassurance must be very helpful to them.

the article was somehow very angry too... I agree with a lot of points you made about artists in Iran and the work of Kiosk, 127 etc outside the country which is very much appreciated by me also. All that said, I have some real issue with some parts of your article and also your tone.

Why is it that our intellectuals who have no problem dragging LA iranian crowd in mud, expect all iranians abroad to share their taste of music and dismiss whatever it is that they do not support. What happened to variety? what happened to freedom of choice for the public?

Ok I agree the 6/8 party music and the obviously restricted music of Arians etc... are not 100% artistic and free but those are your standards and your measuring stick for art and music. Is someone who is looking for a good time and some "gher" doomed to sit there and listen to a political poems recited over a lone guitar because that's what you like? or is "gher" not permitted for "free" people anymore?

I also couldn't ignore the fact that while you praise some of the Iranian artists who are faced with the strict rules of Iran, you completely dismiss some others who have been facing the same obstacles. Is it just because you don't like their music style? Have you ever heard of the group "Mastan"?  Do they not qualify as
Iranian musicians who are fighting the restrictions with every song,
every performance and every concert?

I understand your passion, but the criticism of all other types of music accompanied by harsh language sound like you are also trying to restrict what people should and should not listen to.

Free art is wonderful. Please let people be free to choose it too.



I love reading your articles

by Sepehr Haddad (not verified) on

Dear Bruce, as an Iranian-American artist that was never underground in Iran, and didn't leave Iran, except to come to the States to study at a university, I just wanted to say, I love reading your articles. I know how much you hate "sheesh o hasht" 6/8 beat and love reading your disdain for it in your music reviews for the past few years.

When Shahin & I started writing music and we got signed to Higher Octave/Virgin, which is now EMI, luckily we never worried about perception, we just wrote music we loved and recorded it as such. Of course, we only had instrumental tunes, so there was never a problem with lyrics, meaning, etc. In any case, we were always proud to let the media know we were from Iran, and also named alot of our songs with either Iranian names, such as "Persia", " Road to Shiraz", "Beyond Zagros", Call from Kashan" or even albums such as "Aria" so that we could mention where we were originally from during interviews. Of course, the interviewers always tried to politicize our interviews, but we never succumbed, letting them know that we were just writing songs, and that we weren't dipomats.

When we first signed our contract, our record label begged us not to use our names for the band name of "Shahin & Sepehr", their reasoning being that no one would be able to pronounce the names and therefore wouldn't be able to go to a record store and ask for our music. We put our foot down on that and even though it may have cost us some sales, we have never regretted using our Persian names as our introduction to the "Western listeners" of our music. But I truly believe that art has no borders and therefore, there is no "Iranian" or "American" art, just art and its what the art tries to communicate thats what is important. Of course, as you state 6/8 is a different matter (:


p.s. if these math questions for posting get any more difficult, I may never be able to post here on, can JJ devise a different system for verifying that I am not a machine?