When New York-based band Mitra Sumara starts playing on new track “Helelyos”, there’s no staying still. Polyrhythms and funky synths and brass hearken back to the popular music of pre-Revolution Iran, full of 1970s style and swirls of fluid jazz. “This song,” says the band, “with its infectious Bandari beat and deep groove, was one of the first we played. Not only is the rhythm powerful, but the call and response vocals bring the band closer.” The tight musical bond between the group’s nine members comes through every step of the way as the song weaves together Latin-inspired beats, prime disco sounds, and hypnotic lyrics.
The track’s name, says the band, “loosely translates as ‘our people are dancing,’ [and] celebrates all the things we believe in as a band – that music builds community.” As the band gets down, it also uses this message to uplift, aiming to bridge cultural gaps by recapturing the sparkle of Iranian pop music of yore and bringing it with contemporary flair to a new audience.
Such smooth cultural fusion comes from a personal place; lead singer Yvette Saatchi Perez founded Mitra Sumara after reconnecting with her roots via learning Farsi and meeting her birth father and knows well the joy that can come from a multicultural perspective. “It’s our special chance as Americans,” the band continues, “to sing Farsi together and have Iranian and American audience members sing and party with us!” On “Helelyos”, it’s impossible to resist Mitra Sumara‘s ecstatic spirit – why would anyone not want in on some groovy, boundary-breaking love?
Mitra Sumara’s record release party for debut album Tahdig will be at Nublu on 7 June.