Iranian singer Azam Ali’s ethereal and intoxicating voice stirs the soul and sparks the imagination. She is one of the most prolific, versatile and gifted singers / composers today on the international stage. She was the sound of the world music duo Vas and pioneering electronic/ acoustic group Niyaz. Her voice can also be heard in many films and TV soundtracks as well as video games.
Recently Ali Azam tapped into her 80s and 90s influences with the newly released Phantoms, her very first all-English solo album. Phantoms was released on September 13, 2019 via Terrestrial Lane Productions. It was composed, recorded and produced by Azam Ali and mixed by Grammy-nominated engineer Michael Patterson (Beck, Notorious B.I.G., Atticus Ross, NIN, The Social Network soundtrack).
As Azam Ali gears up to support Bauhaus on December 1, 2019 at The Hollywood Palladium, she opens up to Torched and answers a few questions on the aforementioned, her new release Phantoms and collaborating with Peter Murphy.. etc.. Tickets for Bauhaus / Azam Ali can be purchased at LiveNation HERE.
“In my wildest dreams, I did not envision a Bauhaus show in the future, much less that I would be invited to open for them,” explains internationally beloved singer-songwriter/producer AZAM ALI who has been asked to open the iconic post-punk band’s December 1, 2019 show at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Palladium. “This is a tremendous honor. knowing that it will be nothing less than a sacred event for those who attend, I feel truly blessed to be offered a share of this ephemera and what promises to be a transcendental experience.”
Azam is deeply touched that Bauhaus personally invited her to support the show. “There are certain defining experiences in one’s artistic career that make you realize you’ve been working up to that moment since your first steps,” she adds.
Photo courtesy of Azam Ali
You say that your new album is about how we develop multidimensional selves that enable us to navigate in a multidimensional universe and how we learn to move between them in a fluid way. Can you explain this concept further? What would one of your personas look like?
Azam: Everyone develops multidimensional selves. This is evident when you examine how we are different people with our friends, our family, our lovers, our coworkers, etc. We learn to move fluidly between each of these personas never even having to think about it. For me I know that person I am when creating music is very serious, however I am not a very serious person in other aspects of my life. I think it is a beautiful thing that we are capable of being multidimensional.
Are your lyrics generic or based on real experiences? Could you expand on your answer?
Azam: All my lyrics are based on my experiences and philosophical outlook on life. You cannot connect with people through art unless you are expressing yourself from a very personal and honest place.
Who or what are some of your creative influences?
Azam: It’s different for every project I work on. There are so many artists who have inspired me along the way and from so many different cultures. For Phantoms, I tapped into a lot of the music that had influenced me from the 80s & 90s, such as music on the 4AD label as well as some heavier industrial music from Wax Trax Records in Chicago. My main doorway influence was Depeche Mode. I loved their gloomy melodies & synth sounds. It’s the first band that made me fall in love with the idea of utilizing technology as a tool for creating music.
You will be opening for Bauhaus at The Palladium in Hollywood on Dec. 1rst. What can fans expect from this experience?
Azam: It’s such an honor to have been considered. What is amazing is that I could not have had a more appropriate album to be performing for this show. It’s a perfect fit really. It’s almost like coming full circle. Presenting music that is modern yet mined from music that influenced me decades ago & performing it alongside one of the bands who influenced me.
Azam Ali – photo by Borna Jafari
I understand that you’ve collaborated with Peter Murphy in the past.. What was this experience like? Could you briefly describe the music-making process for this collaboration?
Azam: Peter was actually supposed to sing on my album but we could not get our schedules aligned. We have recorded an amazing song together as a tribute to our mutual friend Cheb I Sabbah who died years ago. The song has yet to be released. Peter is amazing in the studio. He just gets into a flow & lets the music take him. I love that about him. There’s nothing conceptual about his approach. It’s very organic.
Do you have any hobbies outside of music that help to rejuvenate your creativity?
Azam: Absolutely! I have just released via my online shop (azamsenchantedboutique.com) my fine art composite series which are based on my original photography. I use my photographs to create surreal imaginary worlds that I would love to escape into. This has been my release for the past several years. I think it’s very important as an artist to have multiple creative outlets.
When and where did the music start for you? Did you grow up in a musical environment?
Azam: I became interested in music seriously as a teenager, some time around 17 years old. I don’t come from a musical family at all. I thought I would be a painter or writer, but once music captured my attention, especially singing, my destiny became clear.
Azam’s career began in the chart-topping and ground-breaking international world electronic/ acoustic group Niyaz. As a solo artist, Azam has received two Canadian JUNO Award nominations and one HMMA (Hollywood Music in Media Award) for her bold artistry. Her music has infiltrated mediums aside from music alone. She has collaborated either in-studio or on stage with Serj Tankian of System of a Down, Peter Murphy of Bauhaus, The Crystal Method, Mickey Hart, among many others. She’s contributed to film and television soundtracks, working with some of Hollywood’s most renowned composers. Some select film titles in her resume include Thor-The Dark World, Matrix- Revolutions, 300, The Fight Club, Dawn of the Dead, True Blood, Alias, The Agency, and Prison Break. She is also a well-known musical force in the video game world. A cross section of titles she’s contributed to include Uncharted 3, Call of Duty, Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, and Syphon Filter: Logan’s Shadow for which she won “Best Original Song” at the Hollywood Music in Media Awards in 2007.