I first became aware of Tajikistan’s tiny rock scene this past summer, when I read this dispatch about the straight-edge, black-metal band Al-Azif. I am always drawn to stories about artists who create despite hardship, and so I was naturally intrigued by the band’s zeal for playing Western music in such an oppressively conservative country. This more recent piece explores the scene further, and makes the case that one of the most irritating rap-rock acts in history may actually have a redeeming quality:
One Dushanbe band, Red Planet, is perhaps even more unorthodox than Al Azif. Taking to the stage in a rhinestone-encrusted T-shirt, 19-year-old Umida Fazilova gives a nod to her identical twin sister, Khursheda, sitting behind the drums and launches into a set of high-energy and emotionally charged metal.
“When I started playing rock music, everyone was laughing at me during our concerts,” Khursheda Fazilova said. “They think drums are not for women.”
The members of Red Planet met at a university and bonded over their love of Western heavy-metal bands such as Linkin Park. Although the Western influences in the Tajik rock scene are strong, the local style has an Eastern slant all of its own.
“Sure, we’re influenced by Western hard rock, punk, hard-core and even pop, but our roots are from the East,” Mr. Rock said. “We have songs with specific beats with Oriental melodies.”
Not quite sure I can detect the “Oriental melodies” in the Red Planet clip above, but I can’t help but love them nonetheless. There are few things more beautiful than people creating offbeat art against all odds. And Umida Fazilova has a fantastic coat.