The death of Mahsa Amini, the 22-year-old woman arrested in Tehran by the morality police, sparked outrage across Iran and with growing anti-government protests, a slogan was born: Women, Life, Freedom.

This is the inspiration behind a music compilation released in January by Iranian musicians Nesa Azadikhah and AIDA.

Azadikhah is a DJ, music producer and composer based in Tehran and is the founder of Deep House Tehran, an electronic music platform that broadcasts podcasts and live performances. And ADIA, an Iranian who grew up in Canada and is currently based in San Francisco blends various genres, including elements of techno and house.

Their non-profit compilation Women, Life, Freedom features 12 tracks by Iranian women and its profits will go to a charity helping displaced women and children suffering from abuse, domestic violence, addiction and homelessness.  

In a conversation with Lazy Women, Azadikhah discusses her own entry into the world of music, what inspired the new compilation and the electronic music culture in Iran.

What are you hoping to achieve with the compilation ‘Woman, Life, Freedom’?

The aim of making this compilation was to support the movement of “Woman Life Freedom” and also to be able to help with the income from the album, the women and girls of Iran who were socially harmed and injured, or those who are the caretakers of a family or have money issues.

How did you come up with this idea and choose the artists to feature?

The idea of gathering this album or making a record label was not just a personal idea, but it was a collaboration between me and my friend Aida which we came up with in September. The artists were chosen from Deep House Tehran which is a 7 year old platform, so we chose the women artists from there, they sent us their tracks or their podcasts.

Can you tell us a bit more about the electronic music and rave culture in Iran? It is a defiance in itself I would assume?

Electronic music had always been there in Iran since the 60s and evolved throughout time. If we want to compare the standard level of artists and their works and the progress of our artists with other countries we don’t have anything less than the foreign countries and we are quite updated. We have rave parties in Iran although we have no nightlife and clubs in our country and everything is underground so in a way while parties are illegal in Iran we are doing something out of the government rules so it is kind of a defiance, what we do.

How is a rave organised for example and how does it come together?

I prefer not to talk about the details of how these parties are being organized, because we want these parties to go on and still happen and [don’t want to] block the way they are being organized. But a small tip that I can mention to you is that these parties are quite underground and there are a variety of crowds around the city which according to their taste of music they are making these parties happen. At the end of the week if you like house music you know where to go, or if you like hard techno you know where to find them and most of these events are founded by social media.

What drew you to electronic music in the first place?

Since I was a child I remember I was listening to my dad’s tape cassettes which was the 60s music and from the age of 6 to 7 I got involved in music and started learning how to play instruments. Shortly after, I got into the electronic music world through the internet and music channels and started to play the tracks I downloaded at the dance parties and this led me to the world of music and loving to be a DJ.

Where do you find the inspiration and also the courage to continue doing what you’re doing even with all its risks?

I think that for me the love that I have for music and producing music and DJing would never let anything prevent me from going forward and working even though with all the risks that I was facing in Iran and in my career. So the passion for music that I have, for electronic music, always encouraged me to go forward. 

Do you think things will change in Iran? That the protests can lead to lasting change?

Yes definitely so many changes happened and will continue happening. This movement is not going to pull back at all and it’s going forward. It can slow down at times and it can go fast at times but it will never stop and we are pretty sure that good things are on the way.

What advice would you give to young musicians who are starting out, or want to become musicians, from countries like Iran, where the very act of creating music and dancing is an act of resistance? 

The advice that I can give to the musicians and artists, dancers and all the people who are working in the art industry, with all the limitations and restrictions that exists if you love this with all your heart and want to progress in your passion and your love, don’t ever let anything block you from doing it and fight for it as much as you can.

Interview by Selin Bucak. Find her latest pieces here!
Photo credit: Pepsimabrain

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