A Conversation With Azim Fathi – A true pioneer in Iran’s Electronic Music scene

Azim Fathi was born in June 1992. He is a music producer, graphic designer, DJ, a sound designer in Tehran, as well as the founder and artistic director of Paraffin Tehran, one of the most influential platforms for the city’s electronic music scene.

Azim became a DJ in 2008 while a resident of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. After moving back to Iran in late 2014, he became one of the most active and outspoken figures in his country’s electronic music scene. At that time, this type of music was allowed only in certain types of places, and most of them did not have any official permission. After performing with as many local friends in every venue as possible, Azim decided to create a more organized platform because he really felt the need and passion for a real and artistic version of electronic music. Thus, Paraffin Tehran was created.

Azim wanted to bring the true culture behind electronic music to his country and try to present it in an artistic form – he used his new freedom to perform in Tehran’s art galleries, music and theatre halls. Undoubtedly, in a country like Iran, he had to take very anxious and difficult steps to get the necessary permits to organize such performances! In Iran, such shows take place mostly during the day (because there is no real nightlife in Iran and everywhere must be closed before midnight) and are seated, avant-garde venues such as theatres, music halls or art galleries that publicly allow such new music.

However, he finally succeeded, so he was able to invite many influential and important music producers and artists from abroad to Iran to build a bridge between the two different worlds. Azim used to be a DJ abroad and had great connections in the music industry, so although Tehran was not a regular destination for professional musicians from all over the world, he was somehow able to convince them. Among the musicians who accepted the invitation were Anthony Linell (Abdulla Rashim), grad_u, Unbroken Dub, Rhauder, HVL, Sote and others. When the situation stabilizes in the future and is open to artists like Azim, these shows will definitely go down in the history of Iran’s electronic music scene.

He and his family now live in Tehran, Iran, and are trying to revive their music activities as they have been forced to postpone or cancel everything they planned due to the Coronavirus pandemic. One of the main reasons for the difficulties is the escalation of tensions inside the country after the emergence of economic and financial problems as a result of US sanctions against Iran. These sanctions are considered one of the harshest in the world. As a result, there were numerous violent and bloody protests, many times in which the people rose up, after which Iran and the United States reached the brink of a full-scale war, and at one time everyone in Iran was waiting for the war to come. Against the background of the events, of course, it was not the right time to invite artists to Iran and hold music shows, so he had to cancel and postpone most of the plans and events he was thinking about his country.

It should also be noted that from the very beginning, Paraffin Tehran aimed to become a record label, distribute vinyls and sell music physically, because Azim is also a fan of listening to music in the old physical format. He also has many amazing and talented producers ready to join and help with the project. However, this is simply not possible because it is located in Iran. This is due to the inability to transfer, manage and send money from Iran. Under the sanctions, Iranian banks are simply not connected to the world and are not allowed to trade with any other country. The banking system operates only within Iran.

He now broadcasts podcasts and collaborates with numerous radio stations to keep his movement alive. The project, called Paraffin Podcasts and broadcasts via Soundcloud, featured music artists such as ERP (aka Convextion), Lowtec, XDB, Voiski, Maelstrom, Anton Zap, Unbroken Dub, Ario, Joey Anderson. The examples of visual art selected for this series are taken from the masterpiece “Shahnameh” written in 1010 by the great Iranian poet Ferdowsi. To listen to podcasts, you can click on the Soundcloud icon in the article.

Azim has been involved in music for more than 10 years and performs all over the world. During this time, he has changed 3-4 aliases and has been playing professionally in various venues since 2008. Azim had gigs in 10+ different countries. He travels regularly and plays as much music as he can, regarding his life and everything else that comes with being an Iranian at the moment, he is considered one of the well skilled DJs and Sound Producers from his own country, Iran. Some of the places he has already performed include Bassiani in Tbilisi, Pickle Factory in London, Analog Room in Dubai, Suma Beach in Istanbul, iN Club in Baku, as well as Beirut, Moscow, Kiev, Kuala Lumpur and several other cities.

About Paraffin, Azim simply says “Paraffin Tehran is the real product of the underground music scene of Iran.”

Salam, biz VarYoxuq. Bizi birləşdirən bir dəyər var – incəsənət və mədəniyyətimizi fərqli rakurslardan göstərmək və inkişaf etdirmək istəyi. Biz keçmişin mədəni və incəsənət nailiyyətlərinin kölgəsində gizlənmək istəmirik, yeni uğur, yeni təşəbbüs, qısası yeni nəfəs axtarırıq.

Fəaliyyətimizin ilk 2 ilində müxtəlif şirkət və təşkilatlardan maddi dəstək alsaq da, son 1 ildir ki, özümüz özümüzü kommersial layihələrlə maliyyələşdiririk. Təəssüf ki, bu imkanlar həmişə əlçatan deyil və artıq siz sadiq izləyicilərimizə üzümüzü tutmaq məcburiyyətindəyik. İndiki məkanımız bizim üçün sadəcə iş yeri deyil. Bura həm müxtəlif tədbirlərimizi, canlı yayımlarımızı etdiyimiz studiyadır, həm də bir araya toplanmaq, müxtəlif ideyalar arasında breynstorminq etmək və nəticədə keyfiyyətli, faydalı işlər görmək üçün komandamızı birləşdirən yaradıcı məkandır. Hal-hazırda məkan xərcləri və bu kimi məsələlər üçün dəstəyinizə ehtiyacımız var. İtirsək, artıq əvvəlki kontentlər bizdən asılı olmadan zamanla ləngiyəcək və bəlkə də davam edə bilməyəcək. İnanırıq ki, siz də bizim kimi bunu istəməzsiniz. Ona görə də bizə dəstək olmaqdan çəkinməyin.

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