Rammstein lyrics in farsi
How can the underground music exist in Iran?
How can the underground music exist in Iran?
The underground music scene is controversial in the Persian country which ruled by the Revolutionary Guard and the shia muslim ayatollahs.
On one hand they deplore western culture and try to keep it out of Iran, on the other hand the overwhelming majority is nuts about western movies and music. Jazz, rap and heavy metal music are banned but famous western metal band’s lyrics are printed with the permission of government. Certainly they are both in Farsi and English.
„They are kicking me in the ass. Really. Literally. If I rap again they put me in jail” – says Soroush, the most popular Iranian rapper at the private home of an Iranian musician in North-Tehran. He was arrested once for rapping. He is the first rap singer in the country and he started his career 7 years ago. In that time he was alone and nobody else had known how should sing a rap song in Farsi. At the beginning „it was like a chain reaction. People started to teach each other.”
The Iranian rap scene is fairly poor. About 20 ‘professional’ rappers do their rhymes in the country of 72 million. More than two-thirds of the population is under the age of 30 so the market is big enough. But the difficulties of this genre call for real rebels. Soroush is a vibrant figure of the Iranian light music scene – if we can call it ‘light’, but unlike the famous rappers like 2Pac or 50 cent he doesn’t have the chance to give concerts for the fans. The only way to spread his art is to upload the songs to the internet.
‘If you have concert you need the permission of the authorities. For small concerts they don’t come to inspect. Or maybe they do and don’t say anything, we don’t know. I just know that I have a file somewhere. It’s sick.’ – says Babak Riahipour bass guitar player, a friend of Soroush. He has a rock band. The only way to show the Iranian rap for the public is rapping in parks or on the streets and some people start to watch him. In the last April the police arrested Soroush for rapping, according to the charge ‘corrupting the people’. There was a rumor that he was sentenced to death. But the people couldn’t believe it: ‘sentence to death for rapping?’ The situation is not so serious.
Rock in the orthodox church
‘We call rock music ’hidden music’. It’s the mixture of different styles, Persian style – but it’s bullshit, you know. It’s pure rock. They (the government) have a problem with the word ’rock’ – it’s blasphemy. Less than blasphemy.’ – says Babak. In contrast with pop music the artists don’t get any money for the copyright of this kind of music like rap or rock. ‘You get money only for pop music.’
Babak is a famous session player in Iran. ‘I was in Germany. I moved there in 1986. I started to play bass guitar. I was joining bands mostly hard rock, heavy metal and trash metal bands. In 1993 I came back to Iran and after 2-3 years the music scene started to grow. I was a session player and everybody called me because there were no bass players actually. I played a couple of really well known guys. So I got a name.’
But without his own band and his own music it’s just a job. ‘I loose my confidence. I go home and I start popular stuff that I don’t like. But if I want to live as a musician I have to do this. And most of the time I am in studios and playing pop songs for antipathetic people, but I go there to play to make money. Like a prostitute…’ – says angrily Babak. Once he was playing in a rock band, they had only one concert in Iran: in a Russian orthodox church in Tehran. He has 50 concerts a year, except 2 or 3 all of these are pop. The public in a rock or jazz concert means 200-300 fans, but behind the government accepted pop singers he can play sometimes for 5000 people.
Do you know what is the common thing in the following bands: Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Rammstein or Black Sabbath? Their lyrics have all been published by the permission of the Iranian government. These books are good quality bilingual issues but you can buy them only in the biggest international bookshops in big cities like Tehran or Esfahan.
The musicians say it has ideological background because all of these band’s lyrics are criticizing the West, the United States or question the western values. For me it’s a mystery which ayatollah or revolutionary guard member decided to let them publish the lyrics of the evil-image ex-alcoholic british Ozzy Osbourne or the war-fan and atheist American Slayer? Anyway, the Iranian metal-fans can reach the ‘decadent’ modern western heavy metal lyrics in their own language.
At the studio
The Iranian-Canadian Nooshi records her first demo in the Kargadan Studio in north edge of Tehran at the foot of the Alborz Mountain. She knows that she can forget the concerts. Solo female singers are banned in Iran because their voice can turn a man’s mind to immoral thoughts. So she can sing only for female public. Two female singers are allowed for male audience if they are singing together. She had many concerts in Vancouver and LA but she knows there is no more opportunity to sing to the audience in her home country.
Kargadan Studio is one of the most popular among the underground musicians. The trick is that they applied but didn’t receive the permission from the authorities yet. ‘If we get the permission we can’t record here anymore’ – says the owner of the studio. Permission means the legal run of the studio. In this case they can’t record the illegal songs any more. Now they are on the razor’s edge. Police raids threat the studio, they are looking for the illegal records. That’s why the studio use only external hard discs - it's easier to hide them. (A typical Iranian story: the head of the branch of the police which is responsible for the moral issues was recently catched with six naked prostitutes who were forced to pray with him.)
They delete all of the illegal records because of the search of premises. This system is like the communism was in Eastern Europe. The strict rules strangle the everyday life but there are always back doors. The underground musicians know it. ‘We don’t try to cross the red lines’ – says Babak referring to the invisible border between forbidden and tolerated.
‘…Don’t get confused we’re not just rappers/In the studio we don’t record tracks we perform Sama/Submerge the self and kill the Ego/Ultimate Jihad is against yourself not other people’ – Soroush
GERMAN VERSION IS HERE