University of Houston is ranked 72 out of 2,718 in ethnic diversity nationally. Coog Radio’s staff personifies that diversity in its staff and their experiences. During the summer break of 2018, certain staff members crossed oceans, climbed mountains and explored new and familiar cultures that embodied their diversity and expanded others. A wanderer himself, Jack Kerouac said, “Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that g*dd*mn mountain.” As we enter the third week of school, our diverse staff revisits and shares their study abroad experiences in Summer 2018 and the music that enriched their travels. Parnia Razi and her abroad experience in Iran is first in this series.
This summer, I spent time abroad in a country no one would expect an American student to go – Iran. My parents immigrated from Iran when I was two years old, and I had not visited my home country for over a decade. I was incredibly excited about this trip, especially at a time like this when tensions are particularly high between Iran and America, I thought it was more important than ever to stay connected to my culture and roots. My time in Iran was filled with beautiful scenery, delicious foods, incredible art, loving family, and intriguing scents and sounds. From the mountains of Tehran, to the desert of Esfahan, I explored these two fascinating cities with my family. Of course, the long journey there, as well as time spent sitting in busy traffic there, allowed me plenty of time to listen to music. With my Farsi quickly picking up while I was there, I was drawn to checking out what the young people in Iran were listening to. What I found was that Iranians love American music. From Drake and Cardi B, to Dua Lipa and Ariana Grande, Iranians managed to get their hands on all types of popular American music (despite it being illegal and the internet being censored). However, there is also an interesting underground, alternative scene for teenagers in Iran. Some of the music I discovered was way cooler than anything I had heard in America. There are also many Iranian artists who are American-based, which many Iranian-Americans like myself like listen to. From indie rock, to electro-pop, to Persian Trap Music, Iranian artists find their voices and expression despite a seemingly oppressive government.
Two of the artists I found myself listening to the most while there were ASADI and Sogand. ASADI is a young Iranian producer/DJ from Los Angeles (also known as Tehrangeles for its large Iranian population). His music is unique in that he takes traditional Persian music, and remixes it with trap/electronic beats as well as some of his own vocals. It’s a perfect blend of traditional instrumental sound, with an upbeat electronic vibe that young people can also get down with. Click here to check out his Spotify page, and listen to his most recent single “Caspian.” You can also check out his Soundcloud by clicking here. Sogand, similar to ASADI, was born in Iran but grew up abroad. Growing up in Germany, she remained connected to her Persian roots and started making Persian music in her late teen years. She has a punky style, a beautiful voice and accent, and mostly of her newer music is electro-pop. My personal favorites by her are “The Lom,” and “Bilite Yektarafe” (translates to “one way ticket”), which show off her stylistic talent, as well as her incredible voice. Click here to check out more of her music on Spotify .
Connecting with my culture and experiencing the beautiful country of Iran was the best way I could have spent my summer. As an American, and a daughter of immigrants, it was incredibly humbling and grounding for me to see this country and understand the various dichotomies and conversations surrounding Iran on a deeper level. As music lover, I was also grateful to find this interesting, modern Persian music. I curated a Spotify playlist of some of my favorite Persian music, including songs by ASADI and Sogand, so check it out and give me a follow on Spotify for more playlists!