The Exchange is a periodic in-depth look at the artistic motivations of musicians and collectives. We try to approach this from a more cultural and societal perspective, aside from the necessary musical one, because we cannot deny the influence of modern age bringing ideas from all over the world which broaden our horizons. It is a fact that we can learn a lot from movements that are foreign to us.

SΛRIN, Berlin

“Is what is awaiting us a history of freedom? It would be foolish to say so, confronted as we are by the horrid mutilations that constituted power continues to inflict on the ontological body of human freedoms and by the perpetual negation that the unbreakable series of the freedom, equality, and strength of the multitude posed in contrast. What awaits us is a history of liberation, dystopia in action, relentless and as painful as it is constructive.”
Antonio Negri – Insurgencies

One of our guests during the Aufnahme+Wiedergabe label night is SΛRIN. Moving through the darker shades of electronic music, his style is not easily contained in one single category.
Having a history spanning multiple continents, SΛRIN is also part of multiple musical and audio-visual projects like Konkurs, Nostromo, and Human Performance Lab, alongside his label X-IMG. In this interview we look into the influence of heritage, conflict, and collaboration on the music of SΛRIN.

Z – We are very interested in the way your personal heritage may or may not have inspired certain sounds, images, and/or decisions within your career. Can we for example trace back elements to your Iranian background?

Certainly some things from my early childhood in Iran have come back to influence me as an adult. Early scattered & fragmented memories of the bloody war with Iraq linger in a dreamlike way and might partly explain my obsession with military aesthetics. We are very lucky no one in our family was harmed but things were definitely not normal for us and it was a large reason my parents decided to get us out. That decision has had the biggest impact.

Z – Currently, you see parts within the world opening up more to this type of dark electronic music. Different countries have begun to develop their nightlife culture through the means of newborn crews and clubs. Most of these countries have had a recent history in conflict, the tension of constituted power and revolution still visible. In which way do you think that the aftermath of conflict encourages healing or escapism through art?

It’s an interesting thing to think about. I’ve heard of great parties and events happening in Ukraine, and I’ve had the pleasure to play in Georgia twice. Both countries were part of the Soviet Union and both have recent unresolved or frozen conflicts. It’s not hard to imagine that young generations who have had to witness and remember a recent conflict would want to find a way to cope and escape thru music. What’s better than losing yourself on a dark dance floor?

Z – Does your music also contain particles of hope for our humanity during conflict?

I’m not sure but I don’t think it’s really music you’d listen to while moping around at home either. I want people to enjoy it on a dance floor. I avoid going full blown “fuck the planet” because that’s not how I feel. There’s hope already out there.

Z – Did your urge to express yourself within this art form of music, film, and visuals also originate from a wish to piece past and present together? Is the meticulous way in which you create sounds more than a methodology for you?

I’m interested in borrowing and sampling images and sounds from history and how I can try to create new meanings by the way those fragments are rearranged. In my earlier experimental audio/video days the process of this arrangement and juxtaposition influenced the outcome as much the content of the media being sampled. It’s also a long established language of its own in electronic music since the beginning.

Z – As mentioned in the introduction, you often seek strength of expression within collaboration. Do you feel satisfied with your contemporaries within the industrial/EBM/…scene. Would you ever argue that there is no such thing as a (stratified) scene?

There’s definitely a sort of revival or another wave for this style of music, going on since at least a couple of years. It’s exciting because it’s not just a carbon copy of the past but it’s being infused with a lot of nuances by younger generations. This style continues to defy and resist being fully co-opted by pop culture but you can sometimes see these labels & terms like “ebm” and “industrial” getting thrown around very loosely and sometimes I can feel my eyes about to roll out of their sockets.

Z – What is the storyline in this podcast you have prepared for us?

There is no preplanned story from me. I prefer the listeners develop their own story!