“If return to Iran, handcuffs are ready for me,” says Nikan Khosravi, frontman of heavy metallic band Confess. “It might be 20 years, it might be execution – I do not know. Going again to Iran is unquestionably not an choice.”
In November 2015, Khosravi was arrested alongside together with his bandmate Arash Ilkhani, pulled from the security of his house, he says, by the nation’s Revolutionary Guard, blindfolded and brought to the infamous Evin jail.
The pair spent three months in solitary confinement, the beginning of a horrific ordeal by which they have been later sentenced to a number of years imprisonment and lashes, accused of blasphemy, propaganda and even Satanism; all due to the music they have been creating in a rustic the place artists should toe the road, or probably face the implications.
After making bail in 2017, Khosravi says the pair managed to flee the nation, regardless of having their passports taken away, escaping at first to Turkey whereas awaiting sentencing. Now dwelling in Norway, the place they have been granted asylum, the band are releasing music as soon as once more with new members – “a five-piece avenue protest” who need the world to know their story.
Surviving Iran’s most infamous jail
“It’s as terrifying because it sounds,” Khosravi tells Sky Information of his time in jail, talking on Zoom from his house close to Oslo. “Generally once I’m enthusiastic about my very own story, it is like, how did this occur and the way did I survive this?”
The arrests got here shortly after the discharge of Confess’s second album, In Pursuit Of Desires. Khosravi says the band “positively knew” what they have been doing when it comes to making music the hardline authorities wouldn’t look upon favourably.
What they maybe did not recognize, he says, is the extent to which they might be punished for it. “I believed, they’re most likely going to take us into custody for a few days, simply smack me up a bit of bit,” he says of his arrest. As a substitute, he was informed authorities had been investigating him for greater than a yr.
“My case was this thick,” he says, gesturing together with his hand. “Once they got here after me, they got here with translation of lyrics… they took an image of me and my girlfriend, they confirmed me footage whereas I used to be on the street… footage of stuff that I posted on Instagram or Fb.”
What was it in regards to the band’s music that the federal government was so towards? “I feel music is the perfect outlet to make individuals conscious of what is going on on,” says Khosravi. “There’s plenty of political themes and criticising organised faith, dictatorship.
“As a younger Iranian it is crucial for me to speak about these items or convey it into my music. A minimum of there may be somebody to characterize a bunch of those who thinks in a different way, of which we’re so many. The Iranian regime attempt to present the world that Iran is a rustic [where] everybody thinks the identical. It’s completely unsuitable. And I am simply one among so many individuals with issues to say, however possibly they don’t have the voice as a lot as I do.”
Heavy metallic is a harmful ardour in Iran
Confess’s music being heavy metallic additionally performed an element. “They do not love metallic music, to them it sounds Satanic, like the way in which it did to, I suppose, British authority when Black Sabbath got here within the ’60s.”
Khosravi says they have been even accused of Satanism. “I do not imagine in God, I do not imagine in Devil both. They name me atheist and so they name me Satanist. It is simply nonsense. They suppose that since you look this fashion or your music is that manner, otherwise you’re saying some stuff that’s questioning the existence of God, they name you Devil. I do not suppose that Satanism has something to do with any such music anyplace on the earth.”
Learn extra: The Iranian musician risking his life to make music
Confess usually are not the one musicians in Iran to have been imprisoned for his or her artwork. In 2021, Sky Information spoke to musician and composer Mehdi Rajabian, who served two years in jail for making music the Iranian authorities didn’t agree with. There are extra.
Music and all types of artwork are regulated and censored by the Iranian authorities, whereas heavy metallic particularly is taken into account to be a dangerous Western style, in keeping with Jasmin Ramsey, deputy director of the New York-based non-profit organisation Centre for Human Rights in Iran. The censorship causes many artists to function “underground”, unable to promote, promote, or carry out their music.
“Musicians can solely be ‘free’ in Iran in the event that they function beneath the radar of the state,” Ms Ramsey tells Sky Information. Nonetheless, she says the restrictions aren’t stopping creativity. “It is deeply saddening to see the Iranian authorities put efforts in the direction of censoring artwork and crushing freedom of expression when it has so many different urgent issues to concentrate on.”
‘I’ll be on the run for the remainder of my life’
Khosravi’s expertise has definitely not deterred him. “Whenever you go to jail, dwelling beneath stress, going to trial, [all the] dangerous recollections in your head and being exiled forcefully to the opposite facet of the world, away from your loved ones, your property – you are like, if I drop this all of it can be in useless.”
With musicians from Norway having joined the band, Confess launched their third album, Revenge At All Prices, in January. “That is self-explanatory,” says Khosravi. “We simply got here for revenge. It is not music anymore, it is a weapon, ? All of the songs which might be on this album [are] in regards to the time I used to be in jail.”
Whereas he now feels protected dwelling in Norway, the musician feels anger and resentment at his scenario. And following the election of hardline cleric Ebrahim Raisi as president in 2021, he says the scenario is not going to get higher any time quickly.
“I’ll be on the run mainly for the remainder of my life,” he says. “This anger and frustration and all of that negativity wants to come back out in some way.”
Khosravi sees the discharge of Revenge At All Prices as closing this chapter of his life. Whereas it has been a horrific ordeal, he says he wouldn’t change something.
“Even when I die and are available again to this life once more, I might do the identical factor precisely the way in which I did,” he says. “Precisely. 100 instances. That is who I’m. I’ll reside my life the way in which I wish to, and there isn’t any one that may drive me to reside it another manner.”