July 19, 2024

Pop music in Iran: an interview with Moein Sajadi


How do you see pop music in Iran compared to that in the world?

The pop music in each country has its own source. In the world, most of the pop music has roots in classical music and older ones such as jazz and blues and other styles, such as rock and overall, a combination of all of these formed pop music. We know western pop music with this name, but in Iran and the eastern countries, due to our original music, our pop music have been made by a combination of different styles. As we go forward, unfortunately, we move away from the root of our original Iranian pop music. For this, all that is done is that the Persian word is placed over the pop music but there is no different style and we cannot say Iranian pop or foreign pop, we just are changing words of foreign music. We could have spoken about the advance of Iranian pop if the combination made was a proper combination of authentic Iranian music and other diverse ones. Now for the Iranian pop, if it is to have eastern roots, we mostly go to the surrounding countries like Turkey, and Arab countries, borrow from their music and use it in our work. This happens while the origin of the eastern music in history comes from Iran and both Turks and Arabs were inspired by Iranian music instruments. Now but we made this reverse in the pop music, being inspired by Turks and Arabs in the eastern music. However if we are to work on pop music, our music atmosphere should be such that make us preserve our original Iranian identity, and if we are to be inspired by other countries music, it should be as much as it is necessary. When we are following a repetitive Turkish and Arabic process a lot and show it as our own style, we cannot necessarily call this an Iranian pop music, and we do not have any signature and identity when we want to say what the pop music is like. We are working on pop music just like any other place in the world but with a lower grade and less creativity.

Meanwhile, those who are acting mostly as “fusion musicians” have done some work that can help with their signatures, but they also were not much able to advance a mature and continuous atmosphere and their work was too Temporary and superficial. Therefore, I do not see our pop music, especially in the last 40 years (after the revolution), as one which has a unique identity and signature like Iranian pop, and we only saw little of our original music. For example, some chitter of our original music entered Iranian pop atmosphere and … but unfortunately, it still had no signature and these works were very sporadic and miscellaneous. I believe that anyone who wants to enter a field as an artist and follow a stream, any artist who wants to record his name as a brand must have his collection with his own signature. Unfortunately, in our country, only their names are as their signatures and they do not have any signature on their work. Regrettably, they often follow any stream and as soon as the condition changes, they change themselves. Being up to date is a very important and necessary thing, but it does not necessarily need to become someone else. He should do his own work, that is, he should have his own signature on his work in any style he is supposed to perform. However, unfortunately, these sporadicities and these fears of most of our artists that they might have not been heard on the market once again, have made them do not go on themselves from a time point on and do not continue to be what they should be. In western countries, this issue is much more significant, and at least the artist retains his character, has his own signature, however, runs different styles in pop, but about us, as soon as we see that some singers are moving toward another side, the others quickly change their direction. That is, these fears make them think they are lagging behind the market and do things that make them far from their real being. Well, now the information technology system has caused this to happen, but at least they could keep their origin and root as respect for themselves. That is true; there is so much business atmosphere. I do not want to say there is no business atmosphere in the world, there is, but perhaps because of the support their artists receive from the first to the last, the atmosphere has a same and good trend, but in our country, as the support reduces and fears increases these problems happen. If we want to talk about the reasons why an artist in our country does not have a continuous trend, there are many reasons, there are monetary reasons, companies, the mafia that exist in our country and … but I tried to go to the end and tell the final result. It is what we can see.

Why, this way? It has many reasons, including these monetary atmospheres that can be somewhat reasonable, but an artistic should not call its mission and devotion into question, but unfortunately in our country, often when things go difficult, an artist is willing to do everything in order to can only live. However, personally, if anything is going to happen in my life and in any difficult situation I do not like this to happen for my artistic life, because, anyway, one always should keep something for himself in his life. Now if I am going to lose all I have but I feel I was born for art, then, I try to spend and use art for art. Yes, the situation is hard, for everyone can be hard, but in this case, unfortunately, we have these differences, and shortly speaking our pop music did not experience a new stream after the revolution and every stream existed belongs to before the revolution. It is interesting that for the past 40 years, any singer who worked in this genre, they were somehow following music streams of pre-revolutionary singers. Someone who with the help of a number of musician friends managed to create a more new stream, which was also borrowed from a pre-revolutionary singer, is Shadmehr Aghili. Shadmehr, with the help of Behrouz Saffarian, who helped him in this regard very much, managed to create a more diverse stream than that pre-revolutionary singers did. After Dear Shadmehr Aghili, many of the singers of the last few years somehow followed the stream of Shadmehr. Shadmehr himself tried to separate himself from pre-revolutionary musicians. Well, anyway, he left the country and after him, I did not really see a new stream in music. Good singers appear, they sung well, they had good performances as voice operators, but whether they necessarily began a new stream, and this stream went on in order to we hear a new atmosphere in our music for years and enjoy it, unfortunately not. However, we had good voices that came and went as a singer and talent, not necessarily as an artist, because an artist should create stream, he should compose, while I did not see this streaming in Iranian pop music. In the world, we have streaming. There are singers who make stream, bring this stream to their music, and have their own signature.

In Iran, however, mostly our voice color is our difference, and we do not have much new atmosphere in our work. After years, unfortunately, a fake stream was created after Shadmehr Aghili that I prefer not to name it. It refers to the recent years and is new. We did not have a new stream for years, and this fake stream was made, and very irregular, we are mostly hearing a joke atmosphere in our music with making voices thick and letting them out that is kind of rough singing with changing the voice. This is, say, a new stream created in our music, while it is not a stream. We did not see a right stream before and after this, now we are not really in a good condition, our music has gone down very much rather than progress. There are some good musicians that I am proud of working with most of them and there are others, who are good, but I did not have collaboration with them, but I worked with most of the good fellows. However, most of them are musicians, not singers. These musicians can contribute to the new music stream, but unfortunately, when we talk to them they say, unfortunately, singers tell us did you see the work of such a singer that flourished, or say what new atmosphere there is in the world music market, copy it. They do not come to say I want to bring this new atmosphere into the music. They are not looking for creativity. They are mostly looking for copying and editing not for streaming.

However, for me, from the first day I started professional music, in our band we spoke on what new work we can do. Firstly, in the first album, due to the fact that our market does not welcome you if you want to have a lot of innovation, we were convinced and somehow tried to release the music present in our current market with a very high quality and standard, such that I do not be apart from myself and act as myself. I tried to release an album merely as a resume, so that if someone asked me, I would have had some work like those in our marketplace but with a high quality in my resume and then they no longer ask me this. However, in that first album I also tried to have my own signature and make some innovations. In some of my tracks, I introduced a number of more unique features, but I tried to go forward gently, so that it not be such a special high atmosphere to be rejected. I made this album as a resume, and a few tracks to announce presence, in order to say you are about to hear a number of different works. If you hear some tracks in that album, there are a number of more different works that have not been yet heard at the market. In that works, I have tried to show myself but I liked to create the new style, stream and atmosphere I want to bring to the music, in a specific framework after this album. After the album, I released a track called “Divuneh ha” [the mad people], which is in my main work atmosphere, and most of my work will be in the same style and atmosphere. Also In the previous album, a number of tracks such as you are free, placidity, aquarium and Raftegan [those who went] were tracks that I create them more in my own atmosphere and tried to have them in that album.





Do you think Iranian pop music has ability and potential of globalization?

Iranians have the potential of globalization and creation in all fields of art as many civilizations and cultures, including musical styles and instruments, have originally come from Iran. However, unfortunately, when it comes to politics, it puts its will forward mercilessly that culture must go on such that politics like. Consequently, for many years, the policy adopted for Iran has overshadowed its culture and art. Hence, beside the good and strong background of music in Iran, unfortunately, the Iranian culture and art have not been currently allowed to be brought up in the international community.

Hoping that the globalization opportunities are provided at a more appropriate time of history so that the world understand more Iran’s potential in many areas, including music, is much higher than this, and that we no longer see poor quality, copier and follower people who are currently existed in our art, and that we and the world get more familiar with our true and original artists at its own time.


Now, in Iran, we see the presence of a large number of emerging singers in the pop genre at once, how do you evaluate this phenomenon? Should we do anything to resolve this?

In recent a few years for the current wrong political atmosphere the Iranian culture has also been treated in order to turn it from authenticity and tightness toward frailty and superficiality. The new pseudo artists have been also chosen from the current superficial community, and just because of a little talent, they are introduced as artist through covering them with stylish and clean clothes. This introduction is being done by some music producers, though we do not have real producer in our music. The Producers choose these singers, and then by advertising and false money of these marketers under the name of producer, and by creating artificial atmospheres, these modern fake artists are imposed to the audience as fashion tangibly and intangibly.

To resolve this, we should somehow change cultural root and social structures and conditions. This is a fundamental task, which takes a lot of time and requires a different history in our country. By changing conditions, our music and art can also go forward to become more realistic.

In this period if we want to enter the music market early, we will be lost and wasted in the middle of it and our efforts will be wasted.


In your music activities, despite the fact that you have been acting in this field for a long time, we see you have not released much work like most Iranian singers, and the quality of your released works are also very high, has this approach a particular reason? Or you prefer to think and focus on new works and innovations in music, and produce and release works arose from this stream?

In my turn, I preferred to think more and release works arose from reflection with my own personal signature, and be able to create a new stream in pop music. I preferred not to be continuously present in this fake market and thus I did not ride this fake wave. If I attended on the scene, I would be obligated, so I decided not to constantly go along with this wave so that my name and brand would not be wasted. Therefore, I tried to work alongside this market in parallel and occasionally, according to my size, produce works that helped improve the situation in album and single productions. Recently I sometimes release visual works (music video) by the time with the peak and almost end of this stream I and the likes of me could be able to help music and the culture of our country more by more positive and realistic streaming at its appropriate time.

I, few musicians in my group, and few ones who I know in the market tried to start together and make somewhat more acceptable and more defensible works even in this fake and superficial market of today. We also tried behind the scenes somehow on the edge of wall maintain this little art and legacy so that at its time by removing the current poisonous, non-artistic streams we can again show real music and art somewhat better and more highlighted in the future.



What are your plans for your future musical activities?

Along these, I work for my country and myself internationally to make them more extensive in order to, at its time, work harder for real art, i.e. art for art, and accomplish our real mission. Ultimately, we pass the true placidity and evolutionary path of human better and more colorful.


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