A Superstar in Exile

Today is the release of Nadya’s new single Superstars. She released her debut single Refugee in September and a lot has happened since then. Radar met with her to talk about the new single, inspiration and living in a world full of errors.

Last time Radar interviewed you was in September, what have you been up to since then?
I’ve been preparing for the release of my upcoming single Superstars and shooting its video. A friend of mine, Jasmine Daryani, has made an amazing job directing the video and it’s been an incredible project where I’ve really been able to take it to the next level.

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Have you felt pressured to release another single?
– As soon as I’ve released a song it’s out of my control. So after I released Refugee I almost immediately started working on the next song. Not because I felt pressured to do it, it was more of a natural process.

Tell us about Superstars.
– You could say that Superstars resumes where Refugee ended. Refugee is about the struggle and the boundaries that exists between different people, countries and cultures. Superstars is about what happens when the struggle is over and you’ve escaped, the frontiers between what’s fact and what’s fiction, between nostalgia and the present. The song is inspired by the persian superstar Googoosh. She has always been a big inspiration to me, both musically and personally so that’s what the song is about, a superstar in exile. The only thing that’s right in a world full of errors.

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You mentioned that the video for Superstars is going to differ from for Refugee, what was the thought process?
– They had to be different. As I mentioned Superstars resumes where Refugee ended, so the video had to be exactly that. Western environment that portrays the new surroundings after the struggle and escape. We’ve been focusing a lot on drawing parallels to Googoosh in terms of styling.

The video for Refugee was shot in Iran, was that a natural choice?
– Absolutely. Since it was my debut single I didn’t have much of a budget so I ended up blowing all the money on two tickets to Iran. I traveled along with my father to the place we originally come from. By doing that I managed to keep it as legit as possible and portray what Refugee is all about.

How was the reception of the video?
– It’s been amazing! I’ve received great feedback and a lot has happened even though I’ve only released one single. It has definitely pushed me in the right direction.

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Was it difficult to shoot the video in Iran?
– Yes, some places were difficult. When we went up to the mountains to shoot some scenes there were always people questioning us and wondering what we were doing. The camera was a trigger for them. But my father is really good at talking so we managed to do what we wanted anyway.

Any learning experiences?
– It definitely gave me a greater perspective. Refugee can be interpreted as a commentary to the political landscape that is a part of Sweden today. And when I traveled to Iran I started to look at that society in a different way and gained greater understanding of why my parents had to escape. And what happened to the ones who chose to stay. I guess there are things that we have that they wish they had and vice versa. For us it’s the feeling of togetherness, of having roots and living side by side with our relatives. That’s priceless and I really wish that I could have that too.

Are there other things you feel like you missed out on?
– I feel like children of immigrants possesses a responsibility to search and find their own history and stories since it’s so uncertain. No one ever told me anything about Iran in school for example, and I can imagine that’s the case for others as well. By not learning about our origin properly many of us miss out on stories that are the very foundation of whom we are.

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Do you feel a responsibility to convey those type of experiences in your songs?
– I wouldn’t say responsibility but I do think all type of art is political. It’s about what you choose to portray in your music or in your videos. The way you choose to combine things reflects different political aspects, wheatear it’s including something or excluding it. For an example, Googoosh is this superstar that’s had an amazing life but was forced to escape Iran and is now living in a part of the world where she’s not known for her greatness. But of course my parents struggle and them being forced to flee  has influenced me a lot.

What do they think of Refugee?
– My father was actually the one filming it, he was super committed during the whole process! And my mother has been there too, so they’re proud. And all the people in the video are my relatives and they were so helpful with the different scenes.

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What are you’re plans for the future?
– Hopefully to release an album. In my head all the parts are already there, but there’s always a process and other people involved. I have been planning this album since before Refugee so it’s going to happen soon, I just don’t know when. But I’ll be performing a lot this summer and working in the studio and hopefully I’ll get to release another single!

Photography by Clara Uddman

Check out the video for Superstars below! 

Sofia Hassani