The Taxi Where the Music Turned Loud: BadMashadi

Foto: Laura Vlasa

The world is so limiting and despite the freedom of artistic expression, it is hard for the artists to reveal what they wish to create, especially if they live in a society that tries to control humans’ mentality and spirituality.

Ehsan Mashadi, Iranian musician and filmmaker, discovered his interest in art when he was a teenager. However, he had soon realized that the society he lived in did not support artists at all. “Iran is a country which inspires art, but artists suffer a lot,” he said. Iran is artistically advanced and sophisticated. However, artists are put into a box. This often works as a creativity booster, for the reason that they are forced to find different ways to express themselves.

Ehsan left Iran when he was 19. “If you want to be an artist and you don’t believe in the system, you want to get out,” he said. He moved to Chicago, to pursue his art, but the struggles did not disappear. Instead, they started to grow in a different way in his life and have ultimately shaped his art. He realized that he is an immigrant in America, and he made an attempt to become a part of their culture. “America is a country of isolation. It’s a society that thrives on individualism, and I slowly became like that.”

Ehsan had soon figured that that’s not who he wanted to be. “I was used to being connected to people, so I thought I had all these feelings because I was from a different society, but then I have realized that people are just shallow. After this awakening I started to embrace who I was.”

Foto: Laura Vlasa

When he was 25, he became a taxi-driver, which allowed him to gain an accurate and deep understanding of the society he firstly tried to fit into. “At first, I didn’t want to be a taxi-driver, because that’s what immigrants usually do in the US, but I loved the idea of how much freedom this job could provide me.”

Being a taxi-driver allowed Ehsan to practice his art while he was working. “I learned to play the keyboards in my taxi,” he said. He started his musical project, ‘BadMashadi’ in 2011, which was highly influenced by his experience as a taxi-driver. He claimed that taxi-driving made him more aware of American society and of human nature in general and these observations are present in his music. “I started writing about my passengers. It made me a socially conscious artist. Taxi-driving made my art external.”

However, his music did not stop there. He wanted to combine even more cultures in his art. Through the band he worked with in Chicago he discovered a Romani-Romanian band, ‘Taraf de Haïdouks’, from Clejani. Ehsan’s art is based on Persian and Balkan elements, which work perfectly with gypsy music. He first came to Romania in 2013, to visit the band from Clejani. After this short visit he returned to the country in the winter of 2014 and he stayed in Clejani with the family of the greatest Romani violinist, Nicolae Neacşu. Ehsan created an album titled ‘Bahto Delo Delo’ for the Clejani family.

Foto: Laura Vlasa

In collaboration with Taraf de Haidouks, Ehsan released his album “Taxidriving under-City” this year. Ehsan said that his musical project is becoming a flashback on his own culture. However, he doesn’t define his music as traditional, and he is open to combine it with anything. In the future, he would like to use African music elements to enrich his art. “I’m really attracted to African culture, it’s incredibly colorful and the people there are very human.”

Ehsan is currently living in Bucharest, he volunteers as a filmmaker while he works on his musical project “BadMashadi”. Ehsan lives for the beauty of creating, for discovering cultures and music. “My art is an excuse for me to not give up on life, because I don’t believe in anything else.”

Jozsa Evelyn

Jozsa Evelyn