OTHER SIDE OF THE TRACKS Q&A with Shahab Coohe, Navá

Well-known across Ireland, Navá is a group of young musicians exploring the relationship between the ancient musical cultures of Ireland and Persia. It comprises folk/bluegrass musicians Paddy Kiernan and Niall Hughes, and Iranian-born brothers Shahab and Shayan Coohe. Their performance weaves material from the Irish and Persian traditions into a beguiling tapestry of sound.

Ahead of Navá's performances in Hotter than July online's live sessions on 22nd & 25th July, santoor player Shahab Coohe told us a bit about how the group came about, uniting different traditions, and how he's found lockdown. 

Their performance at The Space Between Yoga Studio for Hotter than July was recorded using special binaural techniques, so if you can listen through headphones or stereo speakers, you can enjoy an immersive 3D sound experience that places you directly in the middle of the ensemble. 

WATCH Navá perform for Hotter Than July’s live sessions on IMC’s Facebook or YouTube, on Wednesday 22nd July 7pm and Saturday 25th July, 7pm.

Q. Could you tell us a bit about Navá's style of Persian-Irish music and how you decided to bring these styles together? 

Navá consists of two Iranian and two Irish Lads who met at an open mic session in Dublin. We literally met on stage and started jamming and improvising on an Irish Jig. We realised the similarities and differences and we agreed to start exploring the possibilities. I guess we are very influenced by Irish traditional music, Persian folk and traditional music, some jazz and contemporary music. It is quite difficult to define our style and we'd actually rather not. We would rather let our audience listen and describe it from their own perspective.

Q. All of you have quite diverse musical backgrounds, what other influences do you think come into play in Nava’s music?

I can tell that it has been a challenging and uplifting journey for all of us, as we all come from different backgrounds, we needed to find a common ground.

Of course, being able to improvise and compromise were great skills to make the progress faster and much more effective. We often compose together or at least a member of the band would bring an idea and we all get involved to improve and arrange it. We don't restrict ourselves only to a certain style. We want to widen our outlook and reach different genres across the world.

Q. How are you finding making music during the covid-19 restrictions? What do you think of the differences between streaming concerts and performing live? 

It has been really tough not only for not being able to perform. I think it is very important for artists to integrate and socialise with people. I find hanging out with people inspiring in a lot of aspects. We all have lost a bit of connection in the last few months so it was not easy to get back to each other and play again. But we now appreciate music and art more than what we used to and we will enjoy every second of a live performance and create music together very soon.

Q. Could you mention some artists or tracks in Persian, Irish or fusion music who  you have found influential or you like listening to?

We have been influenced and worked with a lot of musicians. One of the names that occurs to me would be Keyhan Kalhor who is a fantastic composer and Kamancheh player.  And also Martin Hayes in Irish traditional Music. They both have collaborated with the Silk Road Ensemble and the Brooklyn Rider who would be great examples for world music collaboration.

Thanks Shahab!

You can also hear a bit more about Persian music in this interview that Shahab and Shayan did for the Royal Irish Academy of Music!

Don't forget to WATCH Navá perform for Hotter Than July’s live sessions on IMC’s Facebook or YouTube, on Wednesday 22nd July 7pm and Saturday 25th July, 7pm.

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