Meeting Samar was like a cool breeze on a hot summer’s day. She has an extraordinary energy and a positive spirit. Samar is super talented in so many ways, and I feel very lucky to have met her. Here are some questions I was curious to ask Samar, and she was kindly answering. I am sure you will find this interesting too.
My first essay in primary school was based on a song I heard on the radio. The lyrics were deep and existential. But even though I was naturally drawn to music, I was neither exposed to it nor encouraged in this direction. As far as I can remember, from my memory of my childhood in Iran, music was banned.
But things changed as I moved to Paris and my fascination for music grew. I still didn’t play a single note of anything up until my late 20s. Ultimately, it is thanks to the teachings of Sufism that I discovered music and poetry that connected me to my social and spiritual roots; my fascination became an inspiration.
I started playing Daf, a framed drum originally played exclusively in Sufi temples. I began writing songs and experimenting with electronic production. Music is a result of my spiritual endeavor.
Why in Berlin?
I moved here for love. And I’m glad I did.
Do you feel there is a specific purpose for your music doing?
It is my spiritual quest on a personal level. If along the way people like what I do, feel inspired and support me on this path, it is a blessing.
What process do you go through to write a song?
With this first album, I experienced different types of processes. Sometimes, like for the track “Walk”, I like starting with an Iranian traditional song in a certain ‘dastgah’ – which is a bit like the Arabic ‘magham’.
At times melodies just came with lyrics spontaneously, like for “Igneous Sun”. Or sometimes I would create the music first and then write the song, letting the music inspire me. Other times, like for track “Nature”, I would feel randomly inspired and it would all happen in a split second.
What inspires you?
Inspiration itself. Whatever brings tears to my eyes, I dig into it and take it apart. Mostly, it is Sufi poetry.
How do you think ‘being a woman’ affects your music and your career?
My music is more a reflection of my identity than my gender. As of my career, I don’t really have one and I don’t look at what I do as a career. But as women are generally subject to limitations in various cultures, I do identify with that. At the moment, women face many limitations in Iran when it comes to singing but I have faith that things are slowly improving. As an Iranian woman, I feel that it is important to do what I do, and hopefully it will help push the needle in a good direction.
What is your current dream regarding your music?
That it will find its right tribe and be loved. That it will allow me to travel more often to Iran, but most importantly, that it will carry a positive message about where I come from. Iran is a beautiful country, with beautiful people. There are many misconceptions about Iran. The bad media and political wars don’t do Iran justice. I hope that my music will make people want to travel to Iran and make up their own mind about the country, culture and the people of this ancient land.
What music do you listen to lately?
I listen to Tom Ravoncraft’s show on 6 Music and follow the radio shows by Fink on OpenLab fm and KCRW Berlin – all types of really good music. I’m a huge punk fan. I like my indie too.
Tell us a little about ‘’My Enemy My Love’’, your new debut album?
It is my tortured relationship with myself, my life as an immigrant, my journey as a soul in this body – very existential business.
What can you tell us about the concert you’re preparing for FRAMED?
It is my very first live performance of my own material. I’m very thankful to FRAMED for encouraging me and inviting me to perform. I hope I will put on a good show.
I forgot one important question – what does MENTRIX mean? And why not use your own name?
I was once looking for the female word for “mentor” and couldn’t find it , so I made up the word “mentrix”.
On this musical journey, I wanted someone to look up to but also a guide that inspires me; like Khizr for Moses, an evergreen source of wisdom. So I self-baptized my musical project Mentrix. Even though it’s me, I like that I have to refer to my higher self or internal guide every time I make music.
Samira is also a rare woman that I feel very lucky to have met. She is super talented, intellectual, brave, kind and beautiful! When you see her art in person you immediately understand how rare and precious she is. Samira took the time to talk with us about her artistic practice and upcoming exhibition “Cinema Europe”, part of FRAMED #24. Enjoy…
What is art to you?
It rarely happens that an artist can invite others for doing and not only making. That is the moment which gives life to art.
How does being a woman, who is also from Iran, affect your career and artistic process?
I think wherever you are born and grow up always affects you – as your roots are there.
Is there a specific goal you are trying to reach with your art?
There are some situations that we face today because of the past. With my work I would like to make a ‘walk’ happen through these histories.
What inspires you?
Everything around me.
Your painting technique is quite unique, could you tell us a little about it?
I wanted to paint something similar to pixelated images. I created this technique and have been painting in this way for almost 10 years.
What should we expect from ‘’Cinema Europe’’, your exhibition in Framed?
It is a kind of silent storytelling. There is a story which is hidden, and there may only be one way to hear it – listening to each other.
Within your reconstruction of the cinema, you have made a sort of artistic manifestation against forgetfulness. What do you think are the consequences of forgetting?
Turning endlessly in a circle.
What is your current dream as an artist?
To bring good work out from the pain.