Roshi

Ever wondered what would happen if you mixed traditional Iranian music with the quirky electronics of Britain’s analogue age? No? Sound sculptor Roshi Nasehi did and here’s what happened…

Anita Awbi
  • By Anita Awbi
  • 1 Oct 2014
  • min read
Ever wondered what would happen if you mixed traditional Iranian music with the quirky electronics of Britain’s analogue age? No? Sound sculptor Roshi Nasehi did and here’s what happened…

Over the last few years, the Welsh-Iranian alchemist has been exploring this otherworldly outpost through a series of album releases and commissions for the likes of BBC Radio 3 and So & So Circus Theatre.

Her musical odyssey has pushed through the boundaries of Western pop, choral and electronica traditions to land in a place which is altogether more experimental.

Her unlikely palette of sounds and ideas audibly rip up the rulebooks, while her off-kilter tastes and classical training bring unsettling novelty to the electronic template.

Roshi has been collaborating with beatsmith Graham Dids (Nico, Gagarin, Pere Ube) on her Farsi electro-folk since 2008, bringing in cellists Rachel Threlfal and Richard Thomas for her last album, 3 Almonds and a Walnut, featuring Pars Radio.

It includes several pieces developed from a live score to Mary Pickford’s film Amarilly of Clothes Line Alley, which Roshi was commissioned to present at the 2012 WOW festival on the Southbank, London.

As well as penning her own material, Roshi reinterprets the Iranian folk music of her childhood which, when combined with expansive electronics, dislodges the traditional notions of Iran to transport you to a Persia of the future.

To celebrate the release of her new single Oosh Badaam Ber Goz/3 Almonds and a Walnut this Monday (29 September), we spent 30 seconds with this versatile songwriter to learn more…

I first started writing music because…
I don't think it was a conscious decision but something that came about naturally as a result of growing up in Wales. I was singing in choirs daily and later on learned the piano. Also, hearing my dad play traditional Iranian violin music at home and gradually being exposed to other music, like western pop, jazz, avant garde, contemporary classical music etc.

I have been making music since…
I was a kid.

My music is…
It has been dubbed as ‘Welsh-Iranian electronica torch songs’, ‘Iranian balladry met with Welsh futurism' and ‘the interface between pop and sound art’.

You'll like me if you listen to...
David Lynch, Kate Bush and Susan Deyhim have come up as reference points by press, which is fine by me as they are all great.

My favourite venue is…
We've lost a lot of good leftfield venues in London like The Foundry and Spitz, but in the last few years I've enjoyed performing at the Purcell Room, the Maritime Museum in Kuwait and recently at a fort in Newhaven as part of the brilliant sound art festival, Fort Process.

I discovered the Hundred Years Gallery on Pearson St last year when they were hosting an Iranian Exhibition curated by Fari Bradley and it was like unearthing a gem. I have put on a couple of little nights there since including an audiovisual night with digital artist Simon Katan and Iranian illustrator Sara Taghdimi.

Music is important because…
It can make you cry, dance, think, question, open up and feel more than anything else in the world.

My biggest inspiration is…
Hard to say. Many of the songs are snap shots (sometimes distorted snap shots) of things that have happened to me or to the people around me, and include personal experiences and amalgams of feelings. I think there are some female themes and naturally some of the songs are inspired by Iranian experiences. The actual Iranian songs are inherited from my parents who, throughout my childhood, played lots of Iranian folk and pop music on tapes, in addition to my father's traditional Iranian violin playing.

My dream collaboration would be…
I am already lucky enough to regularly collaborate with brilliant percussionist/producer Graham Dowdall and I'm in very good company as he has worked with Nico, John Cale and extensively with Pere Ubu. I think cross-arts collaboration can be particularly exciting, with the potential for many surprises and I've enjoyed collaborating in last few years with acrobats Kaveh Rahnama and Lauren Hendry from So & So Circus Theatre and visual artist Pamela Golden.

To try me out, listen to my song…
Oosh Badaam Ber Goz/3 Almonds & A Walnut, which is the title track from my last album. I released it as a single on Monday with wonderful and very different remixes from trumpeter Andy Diagram (James, Spaceheads), sound artist Stuart Bowditch in his USRNM guise, vocalist/loop artist Georgina Brett and Graham in his Gagarin guise.Or check out our last single Don't Breathe It to a Soul but Amarilly is Getting Gay with a Dude (see video below).

If I wasn’t making music I’d be…
Hard to say. Something to do with poetry, food, tea or gardening.

In 10 years’ time I want to be...
I would love to be involved in further collaborations and to create another live score (the second E.G. above was originally part of a live score to a Mary Pickford film commissioned by BEV. Hopefully I'll have a family to jam with by that point too!

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Roshi-Featuring-Pars-Radio
http://www.roshi.biz/