Rights organizations, statesmen and diplomats are not the only people who spring into action when a cycle of violence like the one which has been raging in the Middle East of late hits a region. Activist artists, including musicians, too roll up their sleeves to do something to advance the cause of peace and prompt the international community to do something to alleviate the sufferings of innocent people. A 7th issue of Kelid-e Melli (National Key) has published an interview with members of one such music band: Black Sun. The following is an excerpt of the interview:
Black Sun is a band widely known for its environmental activism. Most recently you have released Bring Back Our Girls and Stop Killing Your Fellow Beings, which are in English and have an anti-war, humanitarian theme? Why the change of heart?
Jahangir Raha: The kind of art that is associated with the environment is not an abstract discipline bent on distancing itself from social woes and political tensions. Environmental activism is one of the most intellectual ways of political struggle in the contemporary world. Human wounds are no different from those of other beings. In our songs, we have analyzed environmental problems in association with society and humanity and incorporated them into aesthetics. One cannot react to violence against animals and remain indifferent to human catastrophes.
Taher Aliramezani: From the beginning, our concerts, our album titled the “Baluchi Black Bear” included, featured exclusively social and even romantic songs. Because environmental demands are more under the spotlight, songs with environmental themes have drawn more attention. Sustainable peace does require a sound environment.
Stop Killing Your Fellow Beings is too general a theme. Why haven’t you been more specific?
Taher Aliramezani: It is a dovish phrase launched by Nasrin Sotudeh and Asghar Farhadi on the web. We wanted to work on an anti-war song. When that theme was brought to our attention we decided to release a song with the same title which calls for an end to the killings of humans in any shape and form.
Jahangir Raha: The song focuses on things that go beyond political, ethnic, ideological and geographical disputes which could trigger bloody wars that rage on for a long time. Regardless of the color of their skins and ethnic backgrounds humans should respect each other and live a peaceful life alongside others on our green planet.
Why is it in English?
Taher Aliramezani: When you want your message to be heard by the international community it should be in a universal language understood by as many members of the community of nations as possible.
Who has written the song’s lyrics?
Taher Aliramezani: Arash Eslami, which plays electric guitar in the band, has written the lyrics in English.
Tell us more about the video of Stop Killing Your Fellow Beings.
Taher Aliramezani: We were moved by the crimes committed against the people of Syria and Iraq and the massacre of innocent women and children in Gaza and decided to make a song. Arash wrote the lyrics and I tried to prepare the music. […] A week later Arash told us he had written the lyrics. Two days after an initial recording, the final version was recorded. In light of the fact that the band is not well-off, we had to do all the things on our own. We took care of everything including mixing, musical mastering, filming, directing and editing, you name it. In all, I believe the final product turned out to be good.
Can music go beyond the realm of words and really help advance the cause of peace?
Jahangir Raha: Music is the primary language shared by humans and all beings, thus it can set the stage for peace which requires the skills and contribution of all humans to become a reality. If music is unable to advance that cause, certainly others cannot either.
Is this song a means to ease the pang of guilt, or is it a real reaction to a real incident like war?
Jahangir Raha: Both. All of us are wrestling with the pang of guilt your just mentioned. Who is not responsible for the things that are going on around the world? No one is perfect in playing their human role. All our actions and reactions cover both aspects.
Although simple, the lyrics narrate the whole story. Who is this song aimed at? What are questions about love and hate meant to do?
Arash Eslami: It is aimed at all those who play a role, one way or another, in war. The aggressors and the victims, those who kill and those who are killed along with those who want an end to war and favor peace are the audience. The questions which have to do with love and hate are directed at the aggressors and killers. The song asks soldiers as to why they have picked up arms. Is it merely because they are patriots and love their countrymen or because they hate the other side? This is the question that the listener can answer depending on his understanding of the things around him.
[…] Can we hope to see people build on music in order to develop a sense of coexistence and mutual understanding? If yes, do you know of any foreign songs that appeal for an end to war and hostility?
Arash Eslami: In addition to music as entertainment, all countries have music which aims to advance a certain cause. Such music pursues diverse goals such as peace. The anti-war music has a long history in the world. The Woodstock Festival in 1969 was the most prominent anti-war musical event. Songs such as Imagine by John Lennon and Blowing in the Wind by Bob Dylan are examples of such music. They all believed that the language of music which is shared by all humans can be used to urge people to promote peace and be compassionate. Many artists pursue a similar objective.
Is what you are doing a nice social move which is not aimed at financial gains? Do you want others to help you along the way?
Jahangir Raha: As for the first part of your question, I would say this beautiful social move is designed to make the world a better place. But that does not mean we don’t expect others to help us. We wouldn’t be satisfied if we were given millions and billions. We wish an ocean of peace and a mountain of wealth for the world. Anyone who can help us walk down the path of peace and prosperity is more than welcome.
In conclusion, tell us about your future plans.
Taher Aliramezani: Since the band was created, each year we hold a concert on September 11 in cooperation with Animal Rights Watch to mark the day to prevent cruelty against animals. Unfortunately we were unable to book a concert hall for the coming September, so the event is called off this year. We have two things on the agenda. We hope to release our next album “Black Teardrop” by the end of summer. As you know the Baluchi Black Bear, which was sponsored by Mr. Saman Golriz, Animal Rights Watch, and the Iranian Cheetah Society, was released in March 2014. It took us almost two full years to release it because of a lack of budget.
The second thing on the agenda is to complete a few singles to be released on the web by the end of the summer. These songs focus on forest fires and on poaching. That is what we are focusing on for now.