Iranian musician Mohsen Namjoo is currently touring Europe with his own style of music which has not always gone down well with the authorities in his home country.
Talking to euronews reporter Mohammad Mohammadi he explained: “Traditional Iranian music has always been criticised by our elite masters and an intellectual audience. I have also supported their constructive criticism, although I might not agree with them about everything. Nevertheless, their criticism was one of my motivations for experimenting in this field.”
In a bold, one might say even foolhardy move, he sang verses from Quran while playing a musical instrument. He had made a new home in the US, but at the time the authorities in Iran sentenced him to jail in absentia. He said, “The main reason for leaving Iran was to pursue my studies. And it was also an opportunity for new and different experiences. Because opportunities like this are limited in Iran, in terms of both quality and quantity.”
Mohammad Mohammadi commented, “He is an artist who has been dubbed Iran’s Bob Dylan because of his protest songs, and who has been living in exile for four years. Outside Iran, will his voice remain a call for resistance?”
Is that even his intention? Namjoo said: “The main job of music is not to protest. In fact, the main function of art is not protest. I do not believe that an artist has necessarily to protest against something. So if you think like this it makes no difference whether you, as an artist, are living in a free society or not. Having looked back at my first records, I do not really like the ones in which I directly raised my voice about social or political issues. On the other hand, the works in which I dared break the rules of traditional music with my experiments are my favourites.”
Whether or not he is an Iranian Bob Dylan, audiences probably have not heard the last of Mohsen Namjoo.