Iranian Pop 1950s-1990s – Mixed by Maral
Los Angeles-based DJ and producer Maral has an inclusive and creative vision for the club, bringing a unique blend of what she calls “folk club” to the ‘floor. Having played setar at college and grown up with the multifarious strains of Iranian pop music, Maral recontextualises the sounds of her heritage, melding vocal pop samples with electronic sonics. Alongside her sets, she’s a member of the team behind the LA party Signal, and curates the SISTER mix series, which spotlights women and gender nonconforming artists.
As part of Crack Magazine’s series of specialist mixes, Maral comes through with a sonic timeline of Iranian pop that displays how it’s morphed over time through periods of upheaval, revolution and westernisation.
Beginning from the mainstream music of the 50s, the mix opens with Persian classical sounds created using ancient instruments – such as the tombak drum and the kamancheh – merged with a vocal technique called the tahrir. Later, in the 60s and 70s, as the Shah of Iran welcomed western influences into the country, traditional string instruments were swapped for guitars and strains of funky rhythms and psychedelic sounds permeated the pop sphere. Synths and electronic drums made a popular appearance in the following two decades as artists moved to LA after the revolution of 1978-9. As the mix shifts past the noughties, Maral inducts pop that, in her words, gradually became “watered down more and more and became more of a money-making industry”.
For those who aren’t familiar with Iranian pop music, Maral traces the historical trajectory of the genre via the hour-long mix above. For those who are already well-acquainted with the culture and its sounds, hit the play button, sit back and enjoy.