Episode 3: Underground Music in Contemporary Iran (Part II)
In the third episode of Siamak Pourzand Foundation’s People of the Underground podcast series, Farzad Golpayegani, an Iranian musician and visual artist, speaks about the experience of obtaining state permission/licences for music albums (without lyrics). After a brief overview of the history of underground music in Iran, he speaks about his experience as an artist who unintentionally emerged as an underground musician primarily due to state limitations. He speaks about his varied and contradictory experiences in receiving state licenses for his albums.
In this conversation, Farzad emphasizes that the genre of music can make obtaining state permission easier or more difficult. For instance, according to him, rock music is often considered less “threatening” than metal. However, after requests for license increased for rock music albums in recent years, state officials began to ask some of the musicians to perform their songs in front of them. If the performance was excessively energetic and exciting, and thereby “threatening”or “westernized” in the eyes of the Islamic Republic, the artists would face numerous obstacles in obtaining permission. Farzad also examines the relationship of visual arts, primarily painting and graphic design, with the state apparatus. In his view, visual artists face similar experiences as musicians when it comes to censorship. Portraying human figures is particularly difficult in receiving state permission for exhibitions. Farzad explains that at the launch of the exhibition in Iran for which he had state license, he realized that the breast of one of the figures in his symbolic painting was covered with a piece of paper.