“If art, and especially music, is your life’s passion, you will be safe forever.”
My mother once said this to me. The message can be interpreted in many different ways and in my mind all interpretations are true in one way or another, as music and working with music is such a multi-faceted and diverse matter.
I think this quote is valuable because it is valid every single day. The life of a musician is full of twists and turns, and it can often be hard for a musician to secure a continuous livelihood. But at exactly those difficult times I remember once more that I will be forever safe because I am surrounded by music and art.
When I had just arrived in Finland and begun my music studies, I was immersed in a musical bath, bombarded by new musical genres from all directions. I got to learn about contemporary music, free improvisation, jazz, Latin American music, western rock ‘n’ roll classics, and Finnish folk music. I attended gigs, music workshops, jam sessions, and had discussions with my new friends. The effect was inevitable. Back then I got to thinking whether I should let all these influences in and just surrender to them, or should I hang on tight to my own thing, my tradition, something I have been doing in one form or another since my childhood. Breaking away from your routine means that you have to exit your comfort zone, to have the bravery to dive into unchartered waters.
I wanted to make a living as a musician, but at the same time I wanted to create something of my very own, breaking away from tradition. I trusted music to guide me and point me in the right direction, I trusted life, and gave myself permission to get interested in, and start studying new music. It has been a challenging journey, complex, requiring trust, but extremely fruitful at the same time.
Time has passed since I began my journey. It was worth doing. It was worth taking a chance and stepping into the unknown. Learning new things never ceases, you will never be ready – and there is no need to be. This is a process, a stream, a continuum. Whether I create my own music or work with something very traditional, it always comes down to art and being surrounded by it. And I must never forget that with art, we will be safe forever.
The writer is an Iranian-born musician who arrived in Finland in 2005. He has graduated from the Sibelius Academy and found his place in many Helsinki-based ensembles.