UK

All Ears on Iran

Writer

Natalie Shooter

Photographer

Inzajeano Latif

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Currently Bradley has so many projects going on it’s difficult to keep track. She’s long since settled in as a resident at London-based non-profit radio station Resonance FM, from which she broadcasts her ‘Six Pillars to Persia’ show, focusing on arts and culture in Iran and its diaspora. If you tune into Resonance FM on Saturday, you’ll also come across Free Lab Radio, her show dedicated to experimental dance music. Outside of the studio, Bradley’s a DJ, though certainly not your square beats kind of selector. You’re more likely to hear her play luscious soundtracks that mash up Bollywood rhythms with Persian pop soundbites, fragments of politically-charged speeches or interview segments over high energy melodies.

Bradley’s also part of the UK-based experimental four-piece Oscillatorial Binnage and a sound artist – guesting on various compilations such as ‘Women Take Back The Noise’. With a weekly radio show and a blog dedicated to the arts, it’s no surprise she’s turned her hand to curating exhibitions such as ‘New Players, New Roles’, which recently featured the work of six UK-based Iranian artists in London’s Hundred Years Gallery.

As a truly multi-faceted artist, is there something that connects Bradley’s many interests? ‘I guess it’s down to a thirst for knowledge and experience. You’ve got your plastic music, your plastic films, but you also want to know what’s being made and what truths are being told about the life you are living,’ she says. ‘It’s just really exciting to keep abreast with what’s happening.’

Started in 2005 as a six-part series on Iranian culture, Six Pillars to Persia – hosted as a project at this year’s Art Dubai – has since turned into a weekly residency and its scope has mushroomed. ‘It was difficult to find content at the beginning,’ Bradley says, ‘but gradually it’s becoming easier,’ which she puts down to the ‘explosion of the diaspora scene’ as interest grows in Iranian and Middle Eastern culture.

Fuelled by her frustration at the media’s distortion of Iran, the show tries to readdress lazy stereotypes, allowing space for real voices to be heard and the region’s cultural richness to be shared. ‘You see some awful stereotypes when a story is reported,’ Bradley says. ‘It’s also about under-representation. It was okay for them to say that so many violent things happened in Iran but what about the other things?’

‘I just wondered, what do you know about Iranian people? Anything?’ Bradley asks bluntly at the start of her recent broadcast ‘Audio Postcards from Iran’. Sound clips from members of the public then reveal the answer to be ‘barely anything’. ‘I know that it’s next to Israel,’ one man retorts. ‘Persian art is good, but I don’t remember much,’ one lady stumbles. Bradley then gives a carte blanche to a group of Iranians, their audio files collected in Iran by electronic musician Moslem Rasouli.

From the narration of Persian sufi poet Jalalu’ddin Rumi’s ‘The Song of the Reed Flute’ over a wispy Persian flute to the hammering glitch of ‘LED Translation’ or the improvisational experimentation of Oscillatorial Binnage, Bradley’s own music as a sonic artist is just as richly eclectic as her radio and DJ work. It straddles the boundaries between improvisation, sonic art, Persian, glitchcore and electro acoustic music.

Bradley has played across the world. Right now she’s reeling from Croatia’s Republika Fest, a free conference of culture and debate in which she deejayed in front of a reclaimed WWII Warship. Her music was ‘a bespoke set of politics involving quotes about Iranian satellite jamming and electrified sea shanties.’ Though her sets sometimes follow a narrative, responding to the crowd on the night itself comes first. They may include submerged messages but ‘there are other politics defying the law of what music should be,’ she says. ‘By not following any particular rules, you’re putting music back into the hands of people to be creative.’

Bradley is always searching to play music that ‘electrifies’, rather than dulls the senses and considers beat-matching and homogeneity between records ‘the enemy’. ‘It’s just over-processed tinned food, the same beat over and over,’ she says. ‘People are complex and varied and they like to see that reflected.’

When Bradley began working as an engineer at Resonance FM in 2005, one of only around four or five women out of fifty, the gender imbalance in the audio industry became obvious. It’s something Bradley is committed to changing through her role as leader of Sound Women – a group dedicated to promoting the role of women in Britain’s radio industry by highlighting gender differences in salaries and promotions for top jobs. ‘At the moment only 20 percent of radio professionals are women; it’s a glass ceiling,’ she says. The situation is improving, Bradley says, but the organisation’s role is still crucial.

Though immersed in London’s arts scene for years, Bradley maintains her enthusiasm. ‘There are always things popping up,’ she says. ‘You can never keep track. That’s half the fun of it.’ She has long been part of London’s spontaneous ‘squat’ arts scene, and says her favourite gig was a squat party at Area 10 in Peckham, London. ‘The speakers were not inside their boxes, their tweeters suspended from floor to ceiling by a maze of wires at weird angles with people dancing between them,’ she remembers. ‘If the crowd are artistic people and I see them responding to the music, I get more fired up and I bounce off them.’

This article appears in the issue41Buy Now