This a piece about lost voices – those in society, and in a more direct sense, those in music, specifically bass, over phone speaker, frequencies that get lost, as well as songs that get lost in the algorithm of music apps and generated playlists. The norm curve excludes the rebels. As a musician privileged enough to travel the world, visit other countries, and perform for people I have never met, I think it’s important to keep this exchange symbiotic – to offer a platform to the people themselves, to tell their stories.
One of the things I learned in creating [Lost Voices] is that things take time and that the world changes every day.
While in Iran, I met a lot of different people. It was one of the most eye-opening and life-changing experiences of my life. It showed how reality is often different from the media and how important people-to-people connections are in busting myths, breaking down walls, and supporting each other. The best outcome is to put the voices in the artwork. To give a platform to the voices that need it. In February this year, I created a track with Ni Vash (that means ‘regeneration’ and ‘renewal’ in Farsi / Persian) called No Fly Zone. The track was a response to the unlawful killing in police custody of Mahsa Amini. Sadly the brutality did not stop there. It continued and worsened and freedom of speech was taken away. Women specifically had their freedoms curtailed to even greater extents. This track was an outcry from a group of artists of mixed genders, talking about the imposed, suffocating government control and lack of freedom they feel. “Even through playing by the rules and working hard, our dreams cannot be realized”, one of the male collaborators told me. They feel trapped, they see the pain of their mothers and sisters and want it to stop. I remember how male friends went on a march in Teheran, wearing burkas, to protest the enforced clothing piece by the religious police, in solidarity with their female friends and family. The enemy is not the burka, it’s about not having the freedom to choose to wear it as a woman and the subsequent, often brutal, punishment for breaking this law.
For the Lost Voices piece, I wanted to put this voice in there, so asked the poet Nasim Luczaj, who had written and performed the poem ‘Anemone, Windflower’ in the No Fly Zone track, whether I could borrow her text and weave it into the commissioned work. Luckily she said yes.
“Have you ever heard of wind without air?
deadened sky. who lies kneaded with silence
tell me a silence that won’t fit a prayer.”
– excerpt from Nasim Luczaj ‘Anemone, Windflower’
I subsequently worked with Aude and Sally, to make a track, over which the poem could be spoken. Part of the track was made up of work tools, smashing sounds, symbolizing the need to break old regimes, and old frameworks, to be replaced with new ideas. Teheran is a city with many building sites, forever changing, and being built. We feel this in cities all over, so isn’t it time that our politics got a refresh too? Sadly, many are greedy to hold on to power, gaslighting and punishing those who seek change and no longer want to be at the bottom of the food chain with little resources or power.
There are many lost voices in the songs, cutting themselves free. Each has a very profound title, where the containing lyrics themselves are only the beginning of the tale – I was hoping that the listener could project their own story into that gap and with this piece, I wanted to tear apart the album even further, give it even more space and oxygen, within the songs, to put other peoples’ narratives in there, whether it be Aude or Sally’s, Nasim’s, Aracely Osorio’s or beyond.
Another voice comes directly from the source, weaved into the sound textures of the live performance of Lost Voices: The voice of Aracely Osorio in Mexico, the mother of Lesvy Berlin, who was brutally murdered on the campus of UNAM in Mexico City. One of the many victims of brutal femicide in Mexico (there are suspected to be 11 daily), whose case, like many others was swept aside by Mexican Prosecutors and Media with allegations of suicide and later, the proclaimed promiscuity of Lesvy Berlin. That has no place in a murder trial and shows the complete misogyny of the Mexican legal system. The speech directly comments on the case of Roxana Ruiz, who was convicted of murdering her rapist in an act of self-defense. Ruiz has since been freed in response to the outcry from Mexican citizens and campaigners over her conviction. Yet, she still bears the burden of having to pay a vast sum of reparations to the family of her attacker. The cost is her future.
“Because alive, alive we are!
Alive we love each other!
Protecting my life is not a crime!”
– excerpt from the speech given by Aracely Osorio
These cases are not exclusive to Mexico. There are cases in Berlin too, all over the world. This is happening. It was important to put this voice in the piece, along with the other voices, to unite, to say to those others out there: “You are not alone”. We need numbers in this fight and to let those be heard, who don’t have a platform. So much hot air is dominating the airwaves, so much nonsense, when a lot of real stories have their oxygen taken away.
This piece reminded me of the importance of music in protest, in coming together, and in its purpose beyond the market, beyond capitalism – as a conversation between humans.
You can purchase No Fly Zone via Anika’s Bandcamp. All profits from this release go directly to support a UK-based charitable organization, campaigning for human rights, women’s equality, and the fight against government oppression via demonstrations, conferences, and publications, offering legal support to those in need.
The Guest Articles give artists the space to write about a topic that they are passionate about. You can read other contributions right here. If you are an artist and would like to participate, you can get in touch via contact(at)nbhap.com.