Persian Punks: Sanam Tala

I spent the majority of my adolescence identifying with the punk subculture (by way of music, political beliefs and/or social views), which directly informed and influenced my adult self. Those influences often strayed from the cultural norms associated with being Iranian, particularly as a female. Grappling with the intersection or lack thereof of the two cultures incited my curiosity to connect with others of a similar cultural heritage who’ve found themselves following untraditional paths (I use the term “punk” loosely to symbolize those such untraditional paths). This is the first of what I plan to be a continuing series of short interviews and portraits entitled “Persian Punks.”

Name / Zodiac Sign / Wild Card:
Sanam Tala / Sagittarius / Wolf Spirit

Currently working on:
Trying not to lose my mind on the dark and solitary journey that is studying for the bar, as well as working towards being more structured with my creative writing.
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Daily inspirations/motivations:
David Bowie, Siouxsie Sioux, Anaïs Nin

Bikram Yoga has been a constant source of inspiration since I started doing it four years ago. Through its practice, I have made strides in my personal evolution, both physical and mental, of which I never thought I’d be capable. When you look back and know you’ve done something you never thought you could do, your possibilities become endless. It allows an individual to become one’s own source of inspiration.

Watching Twin Peaks (Fire Walk With Me too, duh) takes me to my “happy place.”

I’m driven by my desire to break through the oppressive and systemic societal constructs, especially the gender binary. I am inspired by anyone and anything that rattles preconceived ideas of what a human should be and how one should live their life. This permeates all aspects of my life: the films, music, and other artistic expressions that move me, my career, my views of society, and in a lot of ways fundamentally how I perceive the world. I think now would also be an appropriate time to note that Velvet Goldmine (the Bowie/Iggy pseudo biopic by Todd Haynes) and Hedwig and the Angry Inch changed the life of sixteen year old me.

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All-time favorites and what are you currently jamming on?
David Bowie has been one of my greatest loves for as long as I can recall. Same with Siouxsie Sioux. Beyond the music they made/make, I have always admired the simultaneous elegance and chaos with which they carry themselves. I suppose it is also their androgyny to which I am drawn. Same with Moz [Morrissey].

I’ve been listening a LOT to this Jozef Van Wissem and Jim Jarmusch album, “The Mystery of Heaven.” One of the most beautiful records I’ve heard in a long time. I’ve also been jamming on Bikini Kill, Lust for Youth, Pharmakon, Brian Eno, Depeche Mode and the new Bjork. And a friend recently turned me onto A Place to Bury Strangers and I don’t understand how I hadn’t heard them before but I’m obsessed with them right now.
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What’s your favorite aspect of Persian culture?
There are a lot of things I love about Persian culture. Hosting a gathering for food, drinks, or overnight guests is a big part of the culture, so I grew up going to dinner parties with my parents or being at dinner parties my parents had at our house. Persians know how to party. There’s always a lot of great food, drinks, music, dancing, singing, general merriment. That’s always stuck with me I guess, I love having people over!

I am always happy to claim Rumi as part of my heritage, and have you heard/seen old school Googoosh?!
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What’s your experience been like being both a Persian and punk?
Hah! I feel like I spent so much of my youth trying to reconcile these two parts of myself while never really satisfying one or the other–quite the existential quandary. Eventually I realized that whatever fear I had of “disappointing” my parents was unfounded, and they in turn are happy to see me happy. I’m sure they didn’t anticipate that their daughter would have a number of visible tattoos and (at one point) piercings, but the politics and world view that come along with identifying as “punk” never really bothered them. There was some friction in relation to the double standards of gender roles (mostly in relation to sexuality), but I think that’s also somewhat of a cross-cultural issue. My parents gave me the freedom to make my own decisions about religion and politics, and told me that I was intelligent and capable of whatever I wanted to do.

Words of Wisdom?
Love yourself! Love each other! Do psychedelics!

One thought on “Persian Punks: Sanam Tala

  1. Pingback: Persian Punks: Saba Noori | Home Again

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