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INTERVIEW: Grand Junction talks to Azam Ali from NIYAZ

By Mon 17 OctoberOctober 19th, 2022Music, Uncategorized

It has been 10 years since the Iranian music group NIYAZ last captivated UK audiences. Fronted by acclaimed singer Azam Ali with composer and multi-instrumentalist Loga Ramin Torkian, we are very excited to welcome them back to London for an exclusive concert in Grand Junction’s atmospheric nave on 7 November.

A pioneering force in contemporary Middle Eastern music, NIYAZ has four best-selling albums that blend Sufi poetry and folk songs from their native Iran and its surrounding countries in the Persian Gulf, with modern electronic and acoustic instrumentation.

Lead singer Azam Ali is recognised as one of the most prolific and versatile singers on the international stage. Her spelling-binding vocals have been shortlisted for two prestigious Canadian JUNO Awards as well as featured in films including ‘Prince of Persia’ and ‘Thor – The Dark World’. We caught up with Azam to chat about NIYAZ’s highly anticipated return to London.


We are very excited to welcome NIYAZ to Grand Junction on the 7 November! Can you tell us more about the band and your music’s inspiration?

We are a global acoustic/electronic group. Our music is based on old folkloric songs and mystical poetry from Iran and its surrounding neighbours, with an emphasis on ethnic and religious minority groups who have been persecuted.


How would you describe your sound to a first-time listener?

It is otherworldly and cinematic.


Grand Junction will be your first UK concert in 10 years (!) – What are you most looking forward to about your return to the UK? 

We are so excited to perform at this stunning venue. It is hard to believe it has been a decade since we were last in the UK. The world has changed so much and we have all endured so many difficulties during the pandemic. What I look most forward to is reuniting with friends and fans in the UK for a night of healing music.

So much can happen in ten years. What is new for NIYAZ since your last visit?

We have mainly been focusing on our large-stage production and University residencies, where we hold workshops and offer lectures on various subjects from music to socio-political issues. Our work has taken us primarily into the intersection of art and education.


After your concert with us on the 7 November, what’s next for Niyaz?

After the UK show we will have 2 more shows in Turkey and then return to the US to continue work on our new studio album and stage production.


You have been outspoken in supporting the ongoing protests in Iran. Can you tell us more about how you stay connected and support the protests as an artist from Los Angeles? 

I have always believed that being an artist comes with a tremendous responsibility because we can influence audiences and we have a wide reach with our voices. As an Iranian woman and artist in diaspora, I feel it is my duty to speak about social and political issues related not just to Iran but to any place in the world where there are violations of Human Rights. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of humanitarian issues to address. The years under Trump have taken the US back decades and this wave of neo-conservatism and anti-Immigration sentiment seems to have spread across Europe.

Now we have the war in Ukraine with a lot of US military funding going there as well as the empathy of the Western world, which is leaving the atrocities being committed by the Islamic State on the Iranian people in the dark. The death toll of innocent children keeps rising and there is no global intervention in sight. They are left to fight alone with no weapons, just their voices which that too is being silenced by the state. Therefore it is incumbent upon us outside of Iran to be the voices of these people who are clamouring for freedom from a tyrannical regime they have lived under for 43 years. They have had enough and we must stand by them in every way we can until they achieve their freedom.

Listen to Azam read her moving poem for the protesters in Iran here.

Want to see NIYAZ at Grand Junction W2 on Monday 7 November?


Arts Canteen’s invitation, in association with Grand Junction, has made it possible for this concert to take place in London after 10 years.