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Our paths crossed with Shahri­yar Jamshi­di at a time when his lat­est album, My Sun­set-Land Roja­va, was still in the mak­ing. I would like to intro­duce him to you now.

It was a fine meet­ing filled with human­i­ty, affec­tion and art… And speak­ing of art, there isn’t only the music because our first con­tact hap­pened over Zehra Dogan’s paint­brush. Shahri­yar wished to illus­trate his album My Sun­set-Land Roja­va with a work by Zehra. The album, deeply inspired by the ideals of the peo­ples of Roja­va places Kur­dish women at the fore­front, for the ways in which they have devot­ed their lives to free­dom for Sin­jar and Kobanê dur­ing the past few years. In a sense, once again, our dear Zehra brought us a new friend.

Shahri­yar Jamshi­di is a Kur­dish artist of Iran­ian ori­gin and is cur­rent­ly resid­ing in Cana­da. He is a musi­cian, a com­pos­er and a singer. A grad­u­ate of Teheran’s Arts Uni­ver­si­ty and for­mer artist in res­i­dence at the Banff Cen­ter, Shahri­yar has devot­ed his artis­tic career to the preser­va­tion and trans­mis­sion of the Kur­dish musi­cal her­itage.

His instru­ment is the kamânche, a small ancient vio­lin with four plucked chords, orig­i­nal­ly from Iran. You some­times come across the kamânche under dif­fer­ent names in var­i­ous regions for it is wide­ly in use in the Mid­dle-East, even reach­ing into the Balka­ns, Cen­tral Asia or Moroc­co…

Shahri­yar is a con­trib­u­tor on a num­ber of projects. He is the founder of the Dilan Ensem­ble, a Kur­dish musi­cal group from Iran­ian Kur­dis­tan (Rojhi­lat), cre­at­ed in 2003, as a trib­ute to Kur­dish broth­ers, musi­cians Qadir Dilan and Muhamad Sal­ih Dilan from South­ern Kur­dis­tan (Basûr).

He is also a mem­ber of Kaman­cel­lo, a duet fea­tur­ing Shahri­yar on the kamânche and Raphael Wein­roth-Browne on the cel­lo. Give in to the temp­ta­tion of the trip, the mar­riage of those two tal­ents is incred­i­bly beau­ti­ful…
Here is the link toward the videos.

Along with the discog­ra­phy of those groups to which he con­tributes, three solo albums have pre­ced­ed My Sun­set-Land Roja­va: The Lul­la­by of A Nomad (2018), A Yel­low Flower (2014), Call of the Moun­tains (2008).

Shahriyar Jamshidi

Dur­ing our lat­est exchange, Shahri­yar told me: “I found many inter­est­ing aspects inside Zehra’s art­work, empha­siz­ing the cul­tur­al sym­bols, the role of women, col­ors and dynam­ic. There ele­ments are sig­nif­i­cant­ly con­nect­ed to my album’s theme.”

Indeed, the sim­i­lar­i­ties between the two are so strong I am almost tempt­ed to speak of a “reunion”. Shahri­yar con­tin­ues: “Women, the musi­cal instru­ment Kamânche and Roja­va: all these three aspects togeth­er make a tri­an­gle to main­tain the top­ic of ROJAVA.”

So there you are, this is how we met. The inner chord vibrat­ed and Shahri­yar’s music did the rest. A mov­ing immer­sion, strong enough to make you for­get the world around you. You too can immerse your­self.

This new cre­ation titled My Sun­set-Land Roja­va is a self-pub­lished album. “I intend to to devote a large part of the rev­enues from the sale of the CDS to Kur­dish Yazi­di women who suf­fered from the geno­cide in Irak,” the musi­cian spec­i­fies.

The title “Tears of Sin­gal (Sin­jar)” in par­tic­u­lar is a reminder of one of the somber tragedies of the 21st cen­tu­ry, the geno­cide of the Yazidis in Irak, dur­ing which more than 5 000 civil­ians were mas­sa­cred, leav­ing hun­dreds of the lib­er­at­ing fight­ers on the ground. As a reminder, one thou­sand women were seized and sold into slav­ery by ISIS.

This is anoth­er con­crete link with Zehra who was the first jour­nal­ist to vis­it Sin­jar in order to meet thse women. At that time, the world was look­ing else­where and ignor­ing the fate of Yazi­di women. Zehra’s series of reports did not “inter­est media who had oth­er news pri­or­i­ties”, and was only pub­lished by Jin­ha, her fem­i­nist and fem­i­nine news agency, and it brought Zehra the Metin Gök­te­pe Jour­nal­ism Prize in 2015. You can read this reportage, titled The cry of Yazi­di Women con­tain­ing raw tes­ti­mo­ny from the women. Take you courage in hand pri­or to read­ing… [in French, or in Turk­ish, in Eng­lish soon.]

In Shahriyar Jamshidi’s words

In a glance, the shiny blue sky of my child­hood was under the murky shad­ow of politi­cized soci­ety while I was grad­u­al­ly root­ing in the Kur­dish tra­di­tion, the mar­gin­al­ized cul­ture in one of the diverse West Asian coun­tries, Iran. But music was the alter­na­tive to remote the feel­ing of being side­lined in this not grate­ful place, to avoid being under the mag­net­ism of pol­i­tics, a part of rou­tines under this com­plex sit­u­a­tion. Even life has strong­ly pushed me to step in the edge of dis­tinc­tions between real­i­ty and equiv­o­ca­tion, entire­ly influ­enc­ing my future artitic view to observe the con­crete facts but reflect through my art.

In the past decades, rev­o­lu­tion­ary waves of moder­ni­ty and democ­ra­cy have spred the belief of equal­i­ty rapid­ly in the area by mobi­lized wom­en’s endeav­ors who devot­ed their lives for change.

“My Sun­set-Land, ROJAVA” is retelling the tale of a heart-sore nomad (a Kamanche) from Kur­dis­tan, where tunes are born in her every brief stop she takes for a nap while pass­ing the unwant­ed con­fines of the torn land of the Kurds. Every morn­ing before sun­rise set­tles, Kamanche aban­dons the spot leav­ing a new­born Stran (song)…

One song in this album par­tic­u­lar­ly holds one’s atten­tion. It is titled “Viyan” and is ded­i­cat­ed to Viyan Pey­man, deng­bêj (Kur­dish bard) and YPJ fight­er who fell in 2015 in the Syrio-Turk­ish town of Serê Kaniyê, where she had gone in mid-Feb­ru­ary to fight against ISIS. You can lis­ten to Viyan in a video with French sub-titles in Estelle Amy de la Bretèque’s arti­cle Pourquoi se lamenter ? (Why lament?) in which she also explains the tra­di­tion of the deng­bêj.

“The song ‘Viyan’ retells the life of a Kur­dish Iran­ian woman, Viyan Pey­man (Gülis­tan Tali Cin­gan­lo), a singer, and a sto­ry­teller (Deng­bêj). Leav­ing school and all attach­ments behind, she joined the sto­ry of resis­tance fight­ers in Syr­ia and lost her life to defend Roja­va in 2015.” explains Sahri­yar.

A spe­cial video was put togeth­er for this very spe­cial number. • Twit­ter • Face­bookInsta­gram YouTubeApple MusicBand­campSpo­ti­fy

shahriyar JamshidiMy Sun­set-Land, ROJAVA

1. Viyan — 2. Midnightish — 3. Pomegranate Seeds — 4. Rojhelat — 5. Amordād — 6. Şoke (Barro, Brant’s Oak Syrup) — 7. Pendar (Figment) — 8. Dersim — 9. Tears of Şingal .
Music & Kamanche : Shahriyar Jamshidi ‑Recording and mixing: L. Stuart Young — Mastering : Fedge — Enregistré à : Revolution Recording — Couverture : Zehra Doğan — Photographe : Jef Rabillon — Video: Hîra Çavken & Mitchell Fillion — Layout: Roxana Khoshravesh

You may pre-order the CD My Sun­set-Land Roja­va or its dig­i­tal ver­sion, by click­ing here. The dig­i­tal album will be avail­able June 19. The CDS, cur­rent­ly in lim­it­ed num­bers, will be shipped start­ing on June 18. An oppor­tu­ni­ty to offer a gift to rel­a­tives and friends.

Cou­ver­ture de l’al­bum — Zehra Doğan. Trip­tych n°1. 66 x 111 cm framed. Acrylic on can­vas. 2017, Clan­des­tine days, Istanbul.

Translation by Renée Lucie Bourges 
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Naz Oke
REDACTION | Journaliste 
Chat de gout­tière sans fron­tières. Jour­nal­isme à l’U­ni­ver­sité de Mar­mara. Archi­tec­ture à l’U­ni­ver­sité de Mimar Sinan, Istanbul.