When it comes to art, gender shouldn’t be considered
Bahram Beizaei (famous Iranian playwright) has a play titled as “nothing happens by itself” , which can also cover the phenomena of women`s presence in different fields such as cultural , social , political, art, sports, economics, etc. as a matter of fact, part of the women issues should be addressed by themselves, and we shouldn’t passively wait for a better future. As experience has proved, all labels and stereotypes can be deconstructed, labels and stereotypes such as the dichotomy of men or women domain. For example, although due to the social constructions and the governmental policies women had been able to just play a complementary role in music, this very presence throughout the years has led onto a place where we see nowadays that there are all female bands in Iran performing serious and professional music. We have witnessed successful shows by them and we have listened to their decent music which has come out of these very limitations that have been imposed on them throughout the years.
However, most of the all-female bands have been associated with Persian Folk Music. And we have rarely seen any serious all-female bands in other genres, but one of the most challenging and boldest acts by female musicians was the recent show of all-female rock band “Sanam Pasha” which was the first all-female rock show in Iran.
The show was well received by the people and all the tickets were sold out in only two days, Sanam Pasha (the founding member, vocalist and songwriter), Bita Sadeghi (electric guitar) , Rima Hasanzade (Bass guitar), Armina Jafari (drums), Forooq Fazli (keyboard), Ava and Nava Hosseini (backing vocals) were the courageous women who successfully performed the show. The show which can be considered as a turning point in Iran`s music history.
Sanam Pasha, the founding member, vocalist and the songwriter of the band was born in Tehran, July 16, 1978. She learned Persian Folk Music from her mother, Zohre Niazmand, she started learning classic piano and classic vocal when she was 7. She also has a certificate in songwriting from University of California, Berkeley and since she had good grades, she was funded for another course in Vocal.
Sanam Pasha is also a rock vocal coach and she explains how she became interested in rock music:
“since childhood I have listened to classical music and when I was a child, classical music and also Persian folk music was always being played, but suddenly I came across one of the songs by “the doors” called “Adagio” which was an adaptation of a classical piece by Adagio. I could easily bond with the song and I loved the electric guitar`s sound in that track. And I decided to listen to more music in this genre”
Sanam Pasha who has also been the judge of a vocal contest since 2008, when asked did she ever think that women one day would be able to pursuit a professional career in rock music answers:
“actually, I think when it comes to the art, gender shouldn’t be considered at all, and dividing it into categories of men and women is not right, there are a lot of women who are doing the music in this genre, we have many women guitarists and many women vocalists. They might not have had any show, but they are going in the right direction and they are doing a great job.
The winner of the best scream vocalist in Armenian Arm Rock Festival says being a woman has been her band`s biggest obstacle. When asked about rock music in Iran she answers:
“like any other place, we can divide all the works that have been published into two categories, first the more commercial and mainstream which lacks the paramount quality and the second, the less known works which are more professional than the latter.”
Sanam Pasha was also the judge of Iran`s rock festival in 2012, when asked about whether it is actually possible to have Iranian rock or is it just melodic songs with rock arrangements, explains that there are many bands throughout the world who are performing rock music in their local languages and I think although the Persian consonants, vowels , syllables make it hard to write songs in Persian, we can still have decent Persian rock if we would use the vocal techniques correctly”
When asked about the role of the lyrics in Iranian rock, she answers:
“each song, influenced by its genre, is trying to create an atmosphere and communicate with the audience, so the lyrics as a tool of expression of emotions is really important. For example, you can`t have a rock song without a rock and roll outlook, otherwise its only a song with the arrangement of the rock music”
Sanam Pasha has also the experience of composing for animations such as ” what`s the difference between me and a froglet” (2017) directed by Ehsan Nasri , and plays like “yes or no”, life for life” , and “piano”.
Sanam Pasha band was founded five years ago and the founding member of the band says that we have took the first step, I hope it can be continued (and lead onto great things in Iran`s music).
Unfortunately, only women are allowed to go to Sanam Pasha`s shows and when she is asked if this limitation and the fact that they are also not allowed to release albums discourages her, she answers: ” not at all, if it was so, we wouldn’t have been here”. When asked does she think a fair chance for women would create a big market for them, she answers “definitely, the fact that we sold out our tickets in two days proves that there are a lot of women interested in rock music but for the moment, our country`s regulations don’t allow us to release albums but we will go on!”