Nesa Azadikhah – Groove Podcast 415

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Photo: Press (Nesa Azadikhah)

It is unlikely that Nesa Azadikhah gets much sleep these days. After ten years of running Deep House Tehran, she has ambituous plans for the platform that provides the Farsi-language world with updates on all things electronic music while also trying to foster more exchange between Iranian artists both in the country and the diaspora with the wider world. She also runs the Apranik label together with fellow DJ AIDA, is a member of the Peeleh collective and, after years of planning, has recently started her own imprint, Makhunik. Having left her native Iran and now residing in France, Azadikhah has also become more prolific as a producer in recent years, putting out both dancefloor-oriented music of different shades while also increasingly sharing more adventurous pieces of music. If all that wasn’t enough already, between international gigs she’s also regularly travelling to Tbilisi to play at TES as a resident DJ. Somehow, Azadikhah has still found some time to record a mix as a contribution to our Groove Podcast, too—one that will surely keep you awake as well.

2024 marks the ten-year anniversary of the founding of Deep House Tehran, the online magazine and platform primarily dedicated to electronic music from Iran and the diaspora that you started. Looking back, what were the biggest milestones in this past decade and what are your plans for Deep House Tehran in the near future?

The first sweet shock came when our SoundCloud and Instagram accounts amassed hundreds of new followers, I was not expecting that in a short time to be honest! Other surprising but amazing outcomes were the public events we hosted in art galleries in Tehran. To be performing legally gave us much hope, drive, and a constant goosebumps. The other thing is that we did and still offer news and education about electronic music from around the world in Farsi, which makes more accessible for my Iranian folks. Another one of my goals that I have successfully achieved was hosting showcases in countries around Iran, the Caucasus region, which brought visibility for Deep House Tehran. I’d rather not reveal our plans for the future in detail so everything will come as a surprise! I’m thinking about expanding the showcases to more international locations in Europe and USA, etc., and inviting and promoting Iranian artists alongside international artists as well as collaborating with other collectives and music platforms from around the world. It may sound like an easy thing to do, but being consistent is hard—so one of my biggest goals is to continue with all my Deep House Tehran projects in the the same way as before and to elevate them even further. 

Together with AIDA, you founded the Apranik label in early 2023. Its inaugural release was the compilation Woman, Life, Freedom. Since then, another compilation, Intended Consequence, also put a spotlight on female producers and musicians from Iran and the diaspora. What was your motivation to found Apranik and what are your goals with the label?

The idea of Apranik first came to me and AIDA when the Woman Life Freedom movement started [in September 2022 following the death of Jina Mahsa Amini, ed.]. It all came from the sad fact that no platform has ever even tried to present an album featuring only female Iranian artists. Not having found one after looking for it, we decided to make it happen. The proceeds from the album were donated to help to Iranian women in need. This presented some challenges because, as you might know, it is incredibly hard if not completely impossible to transfer from outside of Iran to people in the country. But we pressed the big button and it was a different kind of joy and happiness in that. I don’t have the words to express it! We followed the same concept for the next compilation. Apranik’s focus lies on FLINTA in different electronic genres. The third release comes from AIDA and me, but the next one is another compilation by FLINTA from different countries. 

With Makhunik, you have started your own label; the first release comes from Tehran-based producer and DJ Doci. What concept do you follow with this new imprint?

I was planning Makhunik in my head for five years now. Saying this out loud feels like I didn’t push it fast enough, but well … life is challenging! (laughs) Now that I have moved to Europe it gave me the desire and the fire back to run Makhunik, which also includes finally putting out music on vinyl. That’s soooooo exciting for me, I can’t wait! With this baby, I will present my own taste, everything that I’d really like to show to the world of music lovers. 

Besides all that, you also seem to be involved with the Stockholm-based Peeleh; a collective and label with a focus on Farsi-language rap. What is your role at Peeleh?

Peeleh is a collective of Iranian artists working in different media, a really compact team. My contribution consists of making the music for some of the singers, but the tracks that I compose are not really similar to usual rap and hip-hop music, they are more abstract. 

As a producer, you have only become more prolific in recent times, having recently contributed to compilations on labels like Kulture Galerie or Müstesna/Ransom Note while also putting out solo EPs such as recently the self-released Truth Will Out or Out of Sight Out of Mind for CoolKidz. What role does making music play in your life and what does your working process look like?

It has been my form of meditation, my medication, and sometimes even my pain since I was seven years old! I think I wouldn’t be here if music was just a business affair for me. Ugh, my working process—that’s a good question! (laughs) I’m actually very interested in knowing about the day-to-day work life of other artists, my favourite ones at least! I spend mine pretty much constantly behind my laptop, instruments, and synths, recording the sounds of almost everything wherever I’m located at the moment, digging for interesting and challenging pieces to give more essence to my music so that I am be able to present it to my crowd. Sometimes all of this goes a little faster and sometimes more slowly. You can consider yourself lucky if you are around me when it goes slowly or not in the way that I planned and wanted! (laughs) Im picky, unfortunately.

While most of your stand-alone releases offer dancefloor-oriented material, recent contributions to compilations on labels like Noise à Noise or Tehran Contemporary Sounds saw you take a more abstract approach with sound. What motivates you to also experiment with these more adventurous production techniques and aesthetics?

My piece for Noise à Noise showcases a very different sound that is very personal because I used an Iranian instrument, the tombak [a goblet drum, ed.]. With this instrument, I was introduced to the music world for the first time in my life during first grade—which, oh my god, was 33 years ago! Since the very beginning I’ve had an interest in ambient music and experimental genres, which are obviously hard to dance, so I would rather use that as a soundtrack to my personal. However, since around I’m trying to compose music in different genres and learned that it is your personal feelings into which you invite other people to enjoy and express them, so I’m doing that! 

As a DJ, you are a resident at Tbilisi’s TES. How did that come about?

The first time I got booked in TES was for a party hosted by Collective Failure. If you have ever partied in Tbilisi you will know that this city has a big, rich club culture and that your closing set can take up to twelve hours. I played for almost eight hours and the crowd was dancing until the very last moment. I loved it! After my end of my set, the TES team approached me with a really nice, happy, and supportive attitude. They showed me appreciation and love and it kicked off from there, it’s a family! During the meeting before my next gig, I was offered to be one of their residents. I would of course looove to be a resident at a venue in Tbilisi and TES made it happen in best possible way. It was a dream come true. 

What was the idea behind your mix for our Groove podcast?

The main idea, and the closest to how I like to play, is a multi-genre set which it takes you on a journey and puts an emphasis on diversity to bring you a variety of tastes that come together for shared joy. 

Last but not least: what are your plans for the future?

From what I’ve learned—and we have a phrase about it in farsi too, “An apple that you throw in the air, will rotate a thousand times until it comes down”—besides all the unplanned things that will happen, it is important for me right now to increase and update my knowledge, and bring my music to a more international and open environment.

Stream: Nesa Azadikhah – Groove Podcast 415

01. a.s.o – Falling Under
02. Dj Ungel – Transpirits
03. Ike – Rose Quartz
04. Din – Stab
05. Audio Werner – tension
06. Elisa Bee – Boiling Point
07. Peverelist – Pluse III
08. PLLFRY – Overexciting (Feat Genoveva)
09. Principles of Geometry – Glower
10. Re-ni – Bursttrap
11. VØG – Holographic
12. Timo Rinker – RX Tx (Pino Peña’s Funky Shake mix)
13. Data Memory Access – Anthem

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