Born in 1975, Pouya Mahmoodi, guitarist, singer and song-writer, is among the few musicians who heralded a change in Iranian music scene after the Iranian Revolution. His performances since the early 2000s and the album ‘Barad’ (released in 2003 by Hermes) introduced a new music experience to Iranian audiences by combining elements of rock and blues with Iranian folk and classical music. This not only created much excitement among young music fans, but was also lauded by critics for its creative and forceful response to the extreme difficulties of making and performing music in Iran. His attempts at exploring different possibilities and expressions of improvisation in different music cultures found a new mode for evoking the diversity of Iranian folk music through the energy and rebellion of rock music. This also inspired many other experimental and independent musicians and bands among the contemporary Iranian music scene and generated new trends in search of a contemporary language and soundscape.
His engagement with world music and Iranian folk, ranging from Khorasani, to Balouchi and Zar music, led to his debut solo album ‘Mehr’, released in 2008, for which legendary drummer Billy Cobham contributed on two tracks. The guitar work of the album captures Mahmoodi’s knowledge and experience across a wide range of Iranian string instruments including Setar, Robab, Tanboor, Oud, and Dotar, creating a sense of roots as well as adventure, that also led to his wider recognition across the international scene.
Pouya Mahmoodi moved to the UK in 2010 where alongside studies at Brunel University he continued his love and curiosity for world music and jazz, performing solo and also more recently with his band Karaj Collective, at venues including Kings Place, Jazz Café, and Union Chapel.
In 1993, he commissioned a micro-tone guitar to play by guitar the specific qualities of Iranian music, focused on the the technical features and intervals of the micro-tone, transferring the monophonic characteristic of Iranian music to a harmonic sound, while still holding its particular sensual elements and language. The concert at International Agatha Christie Festival will be the first time that he performs with his adopted guitar, sharing the journey of such hybrid of musical modalities.
Whether integrating the influences from West African music in the south of Iran or the inter-relation with Afghan and Indian music in the east and south-east of Iran, Mahmoodi’s music is driven and spirited with urban life and its fragmented experience. His music gives a lyrical voice to the contemporary situation of a culture processing its recent history which is inseparable from its ethnically diverse way of life and a faith in spontaneity, storytelling, and improvisation.