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What brings you to Koh Phangan?
We came here because my girlfriend Shirin wanted to come, so I decided to come here as well. We have friends from Iran that are here and our plan was to come and go around Thailand but we came here and we got stuck.
We fell in love with the island and with the people.
So you play Tanbur, can you tell us about this instrument…
Tanbur is a kurdish instrument of Iran, sufis use it for sufi music and praying.
They play it in the traditional sufi way, it’s the spirit of the kurdish people.
It is like a guitar, so it has strings and frets but is actually nothing like a guitar. If you wanna know the spirit of the orient then listen to the tanbur and you can get it, people have done spiritual journeys with this and many other instruments in Iran are made from this instrument.
How did you get into playing?
When I was four years old I started playing guitar. My father is a musician and I heard this instrument as a kid and after a while of playing guitar I thought I should play an iranian instrument as the sound comes from the heart and all of the melodies were in my head already.
I was aged sixteen when I started playing tanbur and iranian instruments.
What other instruments do you play?
I play turkish baglama it's a sufi instrument of Turkey it's a bit like a guitar again. I also play a persian drum we call daf it's also the drum sufis play for ceremonies with tanbur.
What is special about iranian/kurdish music and instruments for you?
The speciality is because the sounds and melodies all come from the heart, people prey with these instruments.
We improvise a lot of the time and this instrument can be improvised well with lots of other instruments. The sound is spiritual and it is the only thing that I can use by myself to calm me down.
What have been some of your best performances?
In 2009 I was in Canada and started a band with an english guy, we called it ‘Blunt Instruments’ and we had some gigs in Vancouver. The band was made up of the turkish baglama, bass guitar and a djembe.
In Iran we always do jam sessions with my father along with good music players and good teachers. They say you shouldn’t play the tanbur with a guitar and other instruments like this, it was made to play in spiritual ceremonies when lots of tanburs and dafs are playing together, but when we mix and improvise you get the new sound of east and west together.
We modernise the traditional music and we do harmonies with this instrument, some people are actually against it but I do what my heart says and that is to improvise.
How have you been using your music on Koh Phangan?
We didn’t expect to play music, we thought that Shirin and I would just be enjoying jam sessions together but it sort of just happened.
We went to the Green Gallery and people were playing but we didn’t have our instruments with us. We met some friends there and they told us to come and start playing our music, we did and then people said we should practice and go on to bigger stages. As always we couldn’t practice so we improvised all the time. We were with our friend Avy and just in half an hour we went to colourmoon and played for the bodypainting competition.
Are you hoping to get some more gigs here?
Yes we are planning to get ourselves ready to play some improv again in Green Gallery for a few more weeks whilst we are here and maybe at Jungle Experience.
I play the iranian daf and we are planning to do some work with an iranian dj who is a friend and to take the music up a step so it’s more like Koh Phangan style with psychedelic music, a new style of iranian music.
What do you hope for your music in the next few years?
I have always wanted to mix the music of the spirit of east and west together and I hope that with the good friends I’m making here and with my beloved Shirin we can do some more gigs and find good musicians. There are lots of good musicians here and in a few years I can make my dream come true to mix these melodies together and bring something new because in music when you want to do something big you have to make something new.
What do you enjoy about Koh Phangan?
This island is a nice place because it’s crazy with lots of nice people. In the daytime we make dream catchers to sell here and because of this we go to the hippy shops, we have made good friends in these shops and we go to the beach and enjoy the rain!
There are good parties here, we go to the places where they play live music like Green Gallery and One Love Bar.
Do you have a life philosophy?
As my father and my mother taught me, my life is improvised, to love and be happy all the time and just flow with the waves of the nature.