Azadeh is a young singer-songwriter, who, while she was both born and is also based in London, is of Iranian heritage.
Her songs, which combine both Western and Persian influences, are ethereal and balladic, and involve both guitar and piano.
Azadeh will be spending October touring Britain with Deacon Blue, and is currently working on her as-yet-untitled debut album.
Pennyblackmusic spoke to her about the tour and also the album.
PB: Your songs are very beautiful and thoughtful, but initially come across as conventional and Westernised pop songs. If you, however, scratch just a little bit under the surface, and play them a couple of times, then you realise that there are all these Persian and other influences involved, and that there is in fact a lot more going on and that these are songs of immense depth. Is that what you are aiming for with your songwriting?
A: Anyone who knows me will tell you that I spend a great deal of my time wondering...if it weren't for Google or Wikipedia, I would be a professional wonderer!
There are many reasons why I put pen to paper and sing and they all differ. Usually the songs I am happiest with are the ones where I have had no aim per se, but rather write what comes through me. Sometimes I don't even know what these songs are about until much later on when I realise that it was exactly how I was feeling at the time. I write about the people that have been in my life, about my really weird dreams, about the things I observe every day and about my past, present and future.
Of course I would love for my songs to contain immense depth so if that's the way it makes you feel then I am pleased; it means I'm on the right track! Songwriting for me, personally, works as a form of healing and expression. Almost like when you go for a run in rain or have a good cry and get everything out of your system, I do that with music. Everyone's got their own unique way of letting go.
PB: You were brought up in London, but have Iranian parents. Have you spent any or much time in Iran?
A: Yes, we used to go very often when I was little and I went back every year as a teenager. The last time I was in Iran was about five years ago. My father and a lot of my relatives still live there. I have travelled to many amazing cities in Iran. It is a very beautiful country with a history like no other.
Even though I am British and a Londoner through and through, part of me knows and feels proud that my roots lie in a country filled with such a rich and ancient cultural heritage.
PB: You have recently released a free download of your cover version of the Eurythmics ‘Here Comes the Rain Again’. It remains true to the original at one level, but then does something very different to it. Is that for you the mark of a good cover song? What was the appeal to you of that particular song?
A: The main reason why I chose this song is because I absolutely love and connect with the lyrics. They are so powerful and beautiful at the same time. I grew up listening to the Eurythmics as my mum was a big fan. I was sitting in my room and watching yet another rainy London day go by and day dreaming about someone I had been thinking about for a while. I had that song going round and round in my head without even realising it was there...but then it clicked; 'Here Comes the Rain Again' totally translated everything that I was feeling right at that very moment and I had no choice but to sing it - it was like an - uh oh, I am feeling all those things again, it’s coming.
I like to think I set that particular scene with my own version of the song. I wouldn't dream of singing a classic song that I knew I could not put my own stamp on otherwise I don't really see the point, so I hope that comes across!
PB: Sons and Daughters’, one of your songs, takes a bittersweet, but very angry response to the problems in Iran, Syria and the Middle East. Can you ever see the problems there coming to an end?
A: Yes I can. I see the problems everywhere coming to an end. I see the idea of war being a thing of the past. I see everyone living in peace. I see all of these things as attainable things. I used to be so cynical, but that is what society teaches us. Sometimes the hardest part is to 'unlearn' all of that and choose to believe in a free thinking mind and spirit. I suppose that is what is at the root of my writing ‘Sons and Daughters’. Why is it that we are living in a world where we still have not realised that we are abusing each other every day and getting away with it?
When I was watching the Arab Spring crisis unfolding last year, I really did feel as though I was part of those revolutions, as if I was in those crowds crying out for freedom. I really felt as though it could have easily been me there, but not just because of my roots, because of all of us. I strongly believe we are all connected, and peoples' desires for change really inspired and resonated with me.
People often ask me about what Iran is like, and why the government are the way they are and what can they do, how can they donate/help the people. I just think the answer is so clear. That we need to show them ourselves that we believe in their cause. I suppose with this song I am raising awareness, in my own way, of the strive for equality, freedom, desire and the necessity of love in all aspects of our lives, no matter where we are from and what we have been raised to believe.
It is my intention with 'Sons and Daughters' that everyone who hears it takes notice of the fact that just because something is popular/contentious one day, doesn't mean it completely ceases to exist the next. Freedom is something that we should continuously strive for, in all aspects of our lives.
PB: The Glory of This Loneliness’ is lovely. What was the inspiration behind that song?
A: ‘The Glory of This Loneliness’ is a song about letting go of someone who really could have been the one, and being on the edge of saying yes to a life together but then realising that you both want different things, and that your levels of passion and how much you want to fight for each other is not even close to equal.
It is about going back to the drawing board of being on your own, but for the first time being free to experience the beauty in loneliness and uncertainty. As a songwriter, most of my time is spent on my own, writing, thinking and practicing, and loneliness is something that creeps in with the territory and something I've really struggled with all my life. But in this moment and in this song, I found that I was not alone; there was so much going on around me that I had missed out on and been blind to all this time.
I realised that I had always been sharing my company with the whole world, and that I would never really be alone again. I mentioned that writing songs is a form of release for me, and the message I got from writing this particular song was that I would rather share my heart with all the beautiful things around me than with one person who is not ready to receive it fully.
PB: You are about to tour with Deacon Blue. It is not the most obvious of couplings, but you both have a strong ear for melody and write songs that are often narrative in tone. What else do you think that you have in common?
A: You've hit the nail on the head with the narrative comment. I think the thing that Deacon Blue's and my music have in common is that we both write melodic pop songs and recount songs as tales. I know that 'tales' usually remind you of a more traditional folk kind of style but we tend to forget that it’s not exclusive at all, and many genres set the scene and take us somewhere magical. I think I am going to learn a great deal from touring with such legends.
Another thing we have in common is Scotland. I used to live there! I studied in the University of Edinburgh and loved every second. I am in love with Scotland; it is where I learnt how to write songs, and where I first performed them. Scotland is filled with great musical talent, and the experiences I had there really shaped the way I write today.
PB: You are now working on an album. When can we expect that to come out and what will that feature?
A: I'm still in the process of recording the album - this will be my debut album so it will feature a whole rainbow of songs, some of which I wrote when I was a teenager but still ring true, years on. I always see debut albums as the 'best of' album of an artist up until that time.
It will be an amalgamation of all the things I have experienced and helped me grow into the person that I am today. It is about love, desire, longing, dreaming and changing. Every song is a photograph of an invaluable moment I will never forget, and have grown immensely from. This album contains both the moments and the hindsight of those experiences. You can choose to look into them, or just enjoy them for what they are, depending on your mood.
PB: What are your plans once the album is released? Will you be doing a lot of touring?
A: Once the album is released I definitely want to be touring non stop! For me the most important thing about making music and performing is to share it with as many people as possible. The ability for us all to connect with one message, and share in that unidentifiable sentiment unites us in a way that nothing else in the world can really. I am hoping a lot more opportunities and collaborations come out of this album and tour for that matter. I am uncertain where it will take me. And that's what excites me the most.
PB: Thank you.