Music Without Borders – Interview: Farzad Golpayegani

Find Farzad’s interview by “Prog Rockin’ magazine” here.

Many thanks to Sean Gill for the interview.

Farzad Golpayegani is an Iranian born musician, composer and visual artist. His music seamlessly blends progressive metal and rock with the traditional sounds of the music of his home country. He is also a visual artist and graphic designer. He has released 3 cds so far and another is in progress. Due to the difficulty in getting his music to the wider world from Iran, all of his music is available for free on his website. Farzad has also just relocated to Istanbul, Turkey. Hopefully this will give him more to share his music with the world. He was kind enough to do this email interview with me just after his move. Please be sure to visit his website.

• Your music blends Iranian influences with western-style prog and metal. Was this natural for you to do?

It had been my idea since I started to compose my own songs. Personally I enjoy many different genres and I have tried to blend my favorite styles including Iranian traditional and prog metal to achieve my own style. I won’t say it hasn’t happened before but I’ve tried to give an Iranian taste and spirit to this type of metal music.

• What is the reception of your music in Iran like?

Unfortunately there is no space for musicians like me. Because metal music has been totally banned in Iran for years. I have had some concerts and releases in Iran but they were about 5 years ago. Even though my songs are instrumental and also have Iranian elements I still don’t have permission to release or perform them.

• Do you play your music live? How is the live experience different than the studio for you?

For couple of years my only chance to have a concert has been playing abroad, which is a bit hard when you live in a country where always there is difficulty getting a visa. That’s why I recently left Iran for Turkey, to maybe have a better situation.

• Do you have a favorite piece of gear? Something you can’t live without?

Well, I’m used to get the best result that I can with a minimum of equipment. I have record most of my songs with a low level quality instruments so it doesn’t matter to me. The only thing is that I prefer play with a 7 string electric guitar other than usual 6 string.

• Talk about your musical influences, who inspires you? Are there any newer bands you really like?

I always enjoy discovering new bands and there are many different artists that I like but maybe more interesting is when I’m inspired by a completely different song or artist other that metal ones and then its influence comes to my metal works.

• Do you have a regular practice routine?

Actually no! Because I’m busy with different activities and play instruments like electric guitar, steel and nylon acoustic guitars, bass guitar and violin, or work on my visual projects like painting and graphic design, but I usually focus on one of them at a time.

• Describe your writing process a little. Do you use notation? Do you write with other people or do you work alone?

I don’t have a regular process. Sometimes I start composing and sometimes I get an idea for a song while I’m improvising. Also I usually use notation when I need a another player other than me for a record or a concert. And I also write my songs alone, but I always enjoy jamming and cooperation with other artists. I always have some jamming and improvisation parts with my band at my concerts.

• Your website says your next album will be all acoustic. How is that coming along? What led you down that road?

At the moment that record is mainly finished. I always have had some fusion songs or parts in my record but this time I wanted to make a complete record in this way. Maybe some who were interested in my previous records will not enjoy this record as previous ones but I will also have new audience with different taste by this record. Composition of the instruments in this record is: Steel and Nylon Acoustic Guitar, Resonator Guitar, Bass Guitar and Violin. And I have used acoustic guitar with about 6 different tunes within the tracks.

• You’ve written music for video games, what was that like?

It was a good experience. Since my works are instrumental I can write music for games, animations and films easily and I really enjoy it. By adding some bonus tracks and different versions I will prepare these two game soundtrack projects as two complete records of mine. The historical theme of “Nader’s Blade” and ancient theme of “Garshasp” have been close to my own works, the difference is the epic feeling that I added to them and I used a different orchestration (different instruments).

• You have formal training in visual art, does your art influence your music and vice versa?

Of course. For me working on music or visual art is like saying a same thing with a different language. There are the same rules, elements, motifs, feeling etc, but only in a different shape. I have in mind to start a series of performances like what I had in “Intergalactic Music Festival” (2006) in Amsterdam. It will be like playing back the rhythm tracks of my songs while I play the lead guitar parts, with video art on display during the performance. This idea helps me to perform musically and visually in the same time.

• You’ve decided to release all of your albums for free. Why is that?

There were not any chances inside Iran for releasing my records and also other options like digitally releasing wasn’t looking good. So I decided to release them for free so at least reach a larger audience. It’s so hard to release the records that I’ve spent years to complete for free and not have permission to go on stage. It leads to not to having any financial profit from my records, but I still love to work on my musical projects.

• There is a hidden track on your album “Three,” a really wild take on some classic rock and metal songs. You’ve given them a real personal sound. How did that come about?

From the beginning I never have been interested in playing cover songs, until I found a bit more of my own style at my third record. I prefer the cover songs that the one who is playing it gives it a personal touch. For me playing a song from another artist in the exact way that it is, is of no value. Like a fake painting (reproduction) that is painted with so much talent, but still is fake! Having character is more valuable than just having talent to play a song. In that hidden track I wanted to use tracks from musicians that have made my vision when I started to play guitar. It was like a respect.

• Anything else you would like to say to our readers?

I hope to have the opportunity to make many gigs and concerts and to see those who like my songs around the world, and also have a better situation to make progress in my music.
Thanks so much to Farzad and do check out his site. I hope his move will mean more music and more shows. Maybe progressive music is the key to world peace.

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