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Fondation Behnam Bakhtiar Interview with King Raam

02/10/2014

 

1. What is your story Raam?
 

I was born in Bushehr, Iran in 1981. My family moved to the United States at a young age and we ended up in Eugene, Oregon one of the most progressive cities in all of America. I was raised in a very open minded environment that helped shape my vision towards the world. After living in the States for several years we moved back to Tehran. In the beginning Iran was a culture shock for me, but I quickly became in love with my chaotic homeland. I caused so much trouble during my teenage years my dad sent me to Canada to pursue my higher education. But I missed Iran so much that I left university and went back and started an underground band called Hypernova. After performing for several years in the undergrounds of Iran we finally got a break to come to the United States to play at the SXSW festival. Our visas were denied in the beginning, but a New York Senator helped us out and we finally made the journey across the Atlantic in March 2007. We didn’t know what to expect when we came to America. We had a couple hundred dollars, a suitcase and our instruments. We were planning on only staying for a few months, but actually ended up staying indefinitely. The NY Times and MTV did a story on us when we first came and from there a media frenzy ensued and we ended up getting featured on lots of press from around the world (http://www.kingraam.com/press/)

We toured across the United States, got signed, and went through all the stereotypical ups and downs of the sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. It has been one hell of a journey that none of us thought would last for so long, but for better or worse music changed our lives forever. We got to experience things we only dreamed about when we were a bunch of wannabe rockstars performing in the underground parties of Tehran. My band became pioneers in the Iranian underground rock movement helping pave the way for other artists with similar ambitions. In 2011 I started my solo project under the name of King Raam. I basically wanted to explore and expand my musical horizons, because Hypernova had become bigger than us as individuals. My debut album was called “Songs of the Wolves” that I wrote with Iranian/Canadian poet Tara Aghdashloo. It was the first time I would be singing in my native Persian language. The album received so much praise and love that it was an eye-opening experience for me affirming the idea that as an artist we just have to keep creating no matter what our expectations are. 

I am now working on my second album that also features many of todays prominent Iranian musicians I also release singles every now and then to satisfy my own cravings for new sounds. I can’t stop creating music. It’s the only thing I know how to do. I really don’t know how to do anything else. Because of my music I have been able to travel around the world and connect and work with amazing and talented people.

 

2. Discuss your music.
 

I play and write the kind of music I like to listen to. It all depends on what frame of mind I am or what instrument I’m playing with. I love everything from classical music to new wave post punk to folk and country. I like the idea of pushing the boundaries as a musician. I don’t like confining myself within a certain genre. My music comes from a very raw and honest part of my existence. It is an extension of myself. But once it is out there in the open it no longer belongs to me and become part of something bigger and more beautiful.

3. What are you doing to grow as an Iranian musician today?


One of my biggest personal goals was to represent the people of Iran in a positive light. Iran is often portrayed in a very inaccurate way in the media, so whenever I have the chance, I make sure that I also show the other side of our beautiful culture and history.

The older I’m getting the more I’m getting into Iranian music and its roots. I have incorporated Iranian instruments and elements in my music before and will continue to do so. But more than just stealing from the past, I am trying to connect the east with the west through my music. Many people say that my music is too avant garde for Iranian taste, but if we as artists don’t push the envelope who will? 

 

4. Who are your favourite musicians?
 

It’s hard to say because I love so many different genres of music. But just to name a few: Grandaddy, Slowdive, Lowlife, Pink Floyd, The Doors, Gabriel Faure, Beethoven, Chopin, Bach, Fleet Foxes, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves, David Byrne, Brian Eno, Moby, Alex Turner, Eddie Vedder, Andre 3000, Pharell Williams, The Beach Boys, The Horrors, Joy Division, Depeche Mode, Sisters of Mercy, Roy Orbison, Chinawoman, Jacques Brel and more.
 

5. Favourite artist?
 

I would probably have to say Francis Bacon. The first time I ever saw a painting by him was the first time I realized how powerful of an impact art can have on our souls. I was so moved by his work that I had to just sit there in the museum for hours and take it all in.
 

6. What is your life motto?
 

My life motto changes every other month. At the moment it’s this: “There are no wrong decisions.”
 

7. What inspires you?
 

The cosmic joke that is my life. Music for me is an escape. It is the one drug I can be addicted to without any negative repercussions.

 

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