Salim Ghazi Saeedi
Producer, composer and performer Salim Ghazi Saeedi is crafting a genre of his own through thorough instrumental mastery – a style he calls “Pictorial Rock”. Saeedi plays every instrument on his recordings; a clearly impressive feat, made all the more impressive based on his upbringing in Iran. As Salim says, “The social and cultural situation in today’s Iran does not embrace artists as independent creators. Moreover due to religious limitations, there are still people among official authorities discussing whether music is Haram (forbidden) or not.”
Salim has smashed through these obstacles, creating six albums over the last seven years, music that is minimalist in conveying his message. He says “I try to keep away from wordiness; Hiring undercover dance elements in semi-Middle Eastern atmospheres; and Incorporating accentuated silences to color my melodies.” You can sample this for yourself on Saeedi’s latest collection titled nanoWoman, a big step in this musical journey. He describes the effort as “silences filled with wild guitars fluctuating. namoWoman music tries to communicate clear-cut and uncensored in terms of the feelings involved…In course of its composition I was thinking how it might be possible if our life was based on a different basis…something different from dual sexuality or Carbon based life.”
Get into nanoWoman and click to http://www.salimworld.com/
XXQs: Salim Ghazi Saeedi
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what makes you different from others your genre?
Salim Ghazi Saeedi (SS): Within about six years of music composition I have approached different genres from standard prog metal to jazz-fusion and chamber rock. But I can summarize my sound as: Being minimalist in conveying my message – as I try to keep away from wordiness; Hiring undercover dance elements in semi-Middle Eastern atmospheres; and Incorporating accentuated silences to color my melodies.
In my recent works, my genre has mainly identified as Avant Prog and Rock In Opposition. However in my 2012 album, namoWoman, I have also incorporated quarter tones that makes my style a little different from my previous works.
PEV: Born in Tehran, Iran, what kind of music were you into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
SS: At age 4-5 I remember constantly listening to Larry Groce’s children songs that my uncle sent me from US and I guess it made my ears apt for listening to western music. At age 18 I constantly listened to Nirvana’s Nevermind and In Utero for one year. I was completely obsessed with Cobain…Of course about 20 years ago there were no internet or satellite in Iran and so the information on international entertainment scene was scarcely available; so I did not know the name of many records I listened to…But among them were Queen, Pink Floyd, George Michael. They were mostly mainstream music.
PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene when you first started? What was your first show like?
SS: Living in Iran, I’ve actually always lived outside rock music scene. In recent years even the music industry in Persian traditional music genre has never been powerful enough to be able to have artistic influence on my works. I have always followed my artistic path alone – including composition, recording, mixing, production and promotion. This is also mostly true about my first three albums with Arashk band.
My first show was in a university in Tehran. I should say I was even cooler than I expected myself! Maybe that is because of my introspective nature. Even on stage I can easily concentrate and go deep into myself.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Salim Ghazi Saeedi show?
SS: I think they can expect the true “I”…A bare soul with unrestrained feelings.
PEV: What is the music scene like in the Middle East and how does that differ from the US?
SS: Of course I’m not eligible to comment on the whole Middle East music scene. But in Iran – as a very conservative country on its art scene – performing arts like music and dance are severely suppressed due to religious and sociopolitical restrictions. Of course some sporadic performances happen but with the least publicity possible. Some of them – especially small ones – are even banned from street promotion. After the 1979 revolution, Iranian National TVs have never showed a music instrument. Moreover after recent economic crisis in Iran due international sanctions, I’ve heard many concerts canceled due not being economically feasible at all…
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage to perform?
SS: I’m usually empty minded when I go on stage! I don’t know and I cannot remember!
PEV: What is the best part about being on stage in front of an audience?
SS: Presenting yourself as who you really are. I think performing instrumental music and bypassing the barrier of words enables me to present myself more truly.
PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music?
PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out, do you ever look back at your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?
SS: I think my whole music composition style has developed based on improvisation. From early days of experimenting on music composition, I’ve always believed that human mind is magically capable of producing great music from its silenced void within. So I’ve always endeavored to introspect the melodies already available in my mind’s structure – as a reflection of who am I.
About development in my mindset, of course it all depends on my living condition and real life happenings around me. Loves, hopes, bitterness and ugliness. I should say, living in Iran, one encounters all of these qualities in extreme amounts every day!
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
SS: The social and cultural situation in today Iran does not embrace artists as independent creators. Moreover due to religious limitations there are still people among official authorities discussing whether music is Haram (forbidden) or not…Despite all of these obstacles, within past seven years I have composed six albums and contributed in further albums/singles. I can say I have been obliged to discover and create my entire artistic path all by myself…in a land with no access to other professional artists, especially in my western genre of music.
PEV: How do you think the industry has changed over the years, since you started out or got involved in just enjoying your music?
SS: The bottom line is it has become harder for artists to generate income from music activities. I think the expansion of multimedia products has made pure music products (especially instrumental music) more as a side product in minds of general public. Today, most of the music people know or discover is from movies, ads, shows, etc. and not by the actual listening to a music album.
PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release? What was the writing process like for this album?
SS: I may describe namoWoman (2012) as silences filled with wild guitars fluctuating. namoWoman music tries to communicate clear-cut and uncensored in terms of the feelings involved…In course of its composition I was thinking how it is possible if our life was based on a different basis…something different from dual sexuality or Carbon based life. The chemical formulas in the background of the album’s tray cover are actual formulations of Silicon-based life – that is a subject in “alternative biochemistry” considerable in extraterrestrial life or science fiction…You know; artists enjoy dreaming about the future…and from such dreams, realities slip into our world every now and then!
PEV: With all your traveling is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
SS: More than any part of the world, my music has been compared by critics to 70s avant-prog Belgian bands. Sure, I am excited to visit and play in Belgium one day!
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?
SS: Very positively. My family members have always supported me in my career specially by tolerating the endless sounds of my rehearsals! One of my friends tells me he is always interested in my new work and likes to play my music while the lights are out and his eyes closed. He says he likes to wait and see what images come to his mind by listening to my music in the dark…
PEV: What do you do in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
SS: I write poetry. That is available in my website at http://www.salimworld.com/word/. Of course my poetry is originally in Farsi but I have translated some of them into English.
PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration? Why?
SS: Present, Jeff Beck. Past, Janis Joplin. Visiting unique people are like meeting Gods. They remind us how profound and limitless human beings can be.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
SS: I recently discovered jazz saxophonist, Hafez Modirzadeh. His style is very unique and he incorporates Persian quarter tones in jazz phrases in a way that I cannot tell if it is jazz or Persian music. He is totally a master of both these worlds.
PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal) what would be your career?
SS: In a point of my life – during composing my debut album, Abrahadabra (2006) with Arashk – I seriously decided between being an artist or occultist. Creating has always been my obsession. I had to choose between being a normal creator, as an artist who composes music or words in comparison to being a peculiar creator as an occultist!
PEV: So, what is next for Salim Ghazi Saeedi?
SS: I am working on a second single with Negar Bouban. Heavy metal music, with Shamlou poetry sang by powerful and brilliant voice of Negar Bouban. Of course the lyrics are in Farsi.