Mai Khôi Chem Gio’s album “DISSENT – Live at Phù sa Lab” together with Farzane Zamen’s EP “Z BENT” is the very first releases at the new SafeMUSE record label LIDIO – presented during Music Freedom Day 3 March.
“This album was recorded live between 2016 and 2017 during secret performances at Phusa Lab. The resulting work bears the euphoria, courage, failures and threats which characterized this time. As such, it forms the soundtrack to an awakening, replete with heroes, villains, reversals and uneasy resolutions. And it is this awakening, now, that we continue to awaken from."
Mai Khoi, 10 February 2018, Hanoi
“She's been called the Lady Gaga of Vietnam, but Mai Khoi arguably has less in common with Gaga than the Russian activist group, Pussy Riot.”
Mai Khoi is a Vietnamese pop star, singer musician - and human rights activist. She has been playing music since the age of 12, when she was the pianist in a wedding band with her father, a music teacher, in the coastal city of Nha Trang. Drawing on a wide variety of influences, from traditional Vietnamese folk to blues, soul and rock, Mai Khoi seamlessly blends disparate styles and rhythms. Her music is also distinct in terms of its emotional range, her wide vocal register as well as the distinct tonal qualities of her voice.
In 2010, Mai Khoi won Vietnam Television Song and Album of the Year Award, the highest award for song writing in the country. After winning the award, she shaved half her head and inscribed the letters 'VN' for 'Vietnam', the name of the song that won the competition, on one side of her head. For this she was harshly criticised by the country's conservative media establishment. No stranger to controversy, Mai Khoi is somewhat of an anomaly for a celebrity in a Communist country like Vietnam for having spoken out about sexuality, LGBT rights and violence against women.
Mai Khoi broke international headlines in 2016 after she became the first Vietnamese celebrity in history to nominate herself for the National Assembly (equivalent to congress) on a pro-democracy platform.
Amnesty International newly declared Mai Khoi one of 12 inspiring human rights activists to follow in 2018.
> Download or buy the CD DISSENT
“This is an expression of my experience of years and years of discrimination against women, the humiliation, the abuse, the violence. All these women hidden under the darkness of holy black clothes are human beings but being used as symbols of religious ideology. We want to be free. We keep repeating: Freedom, Freedom, such a luxury word!”
Farzane Zameni, February 2018, Glasgow
Z Bent, Farzane Zamen’s new EP, incorporates elements of electronic music and Middle Eastern sounds - including Arabic strings, oud and darbuka. Farzane sings in English, while Habiba Makhlouf provides the Arabic and French lyrics. Farzane chose not to pen the songs in her native language of Farsi, explaining: “The concept is that women are suffering from the same problems in many Muslim communities, so I thought it’s better to be multilingual and understandable for more people”. With Z Bent, Farzane hopes to give voice to Middle Eastern women from diverse backgrounds and reveal paradoxes about perception and reality.
Z Bent is created by Farzane in collaboration with Glasgow-based musician Gavin Thompson, sound engineer Sam Smith, and Egyptian performer and singer Habiba Makhlouf.
Farzane Zamen is an Iranian artist; musician, producer, songwriter and singer. She has released more than 15 songs in Farsi and several records in English. Under Islamic law, as it is applied in Iran, women are not allowed to sing in public, resulting in Farzane having no opportunities to perform or publish her music legitimately in her home country, consequently, she works as an underground musician. Farzane composes and arranges all of her songs—most of which are available through the online music service, RadioJavan.com, with a total of 710,000 plays to date.
In November‐December 2015, Farzane successfully completed a one‐month residency in Norway and Sweden (arranged SafeMUSE). Farzane performed her first public live performances with fellow musicians in Bergen (Marthe Valle and the Lyderhorn Choir) and Kongsberg (“Broen”, Lauvdal/ Mobeck) Norway and with Pär Moberg and colleagues in Malmö, Sweden. During this residency, she also recorded the song "Pedar" (Father) during a one-day recording session in Oslo, Norway.
In 2016, Farzane Zamen was awarded a prestigious Artist Protection Fund (AFP) Fellowship and is currently on her six‐month APF Fellowship residency in the UK at the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA‐Glasgow). Farzane’s APF Fellowship at CCA‐Glasgow also includes cooperation with Glasgow‐based organizations The Glad Café, The Green Door Studio and Paragon Music – and SafeMUSE, Norway.
> Download or buy the CD Z BENT
LIDIO - SafeMUSE Sounds is a new record label dedicated to releasing music from artists, musicians and composers experiencing censorship, threats or persecution due to their musical activities.
LIDIO is established by SafeMUSE in cooperation with and as a sublabel to Grappa Musikkforlag AS, the number 1 leading independent record company in Norway.
To find out more about the label and where we got our name, click here!
Music Freedom Day is organized by SafeMUSE for the fourth time this year. Details at musicfreedomday.no and bylarm.no. More about Music Freedom Day globally here.