Opium Moon, A Band Of Immigrants, Reflects On The Global Refugee Crisis

Jul 11, 2018

It's a rare pleasure to find music that gives me pause, slows me down from the daily deluge and gives me a moment to think. That's exactly what happened when I first heard "Caravan" from Opium Moon's self-titled, debut album. This music with violin, santur (a hammered dulcimer,) ancient percussion and bass is spacious and timeless.

Lili Haydn, the violinist for this Los Angeles-based quartet says "Caravan" takes inspiration from the multitudes of immigrants we see and hear about daily in the news and in our everyday encounters. In fact, it's the basis for the band Opium Moon itself. "Three out of four of us are immigrants" says Lili Haydn in an email, "coming from Iran, Israel, and Canada. So, the growing global refugee crisis is close to our hearts. This song is both a very intimate sensual piece and also a dream of a more inclusive, kinder world, pregnant with the joy and sorrow of all of us in our 'caravan' toward freedom. Our music is created by listening to each other deeply and loving across traditional boundaries of state, religion, and harmony... really, the embodiment of the change we'd like to see in the world."

Lili Haydn adds that "the name Opium Moon, as well as the organic improvisational way we create, was inspired by a poem of the great Sufi poet Hafiz called "She Responded:"

The bird's favorite songs
You do not hear,

For their most flamboyant music takes place
When their wings are stretched
Above the trees

And they are smoking the opium of pure freedom...

I once asked a bird,
"How is it that you fly in this gravity
Of darkness?"

She responded,

"Love lifts Me"

The moody tones of the video help us see the performers but also alter the reality of their performance. Roko Belic, who directed the video, wrote to say that the song "Caravan" leads him on a visceral, non-literal journey. "We started with the idea that I would simply document the recording session at Village Studios, but what quickly evolved was a desire to disconnect the images from a sense of objective, linear reality. I wanted to offer the audience an emotional rather than an intellectual connection to the creation of the music. Inspired by dreams, with their fragmented narratives and obfuscated details, we re-interpreted and made subjective the images that the cameras captured in the studio. We did this primarily by optically projecting the images onto three dimensional surfaces, the most interesting of which was a very talented dancer named Coco Wisdom who we photographed in various locations, including on a bluff in Malibu, California."

Opium Moon's self-titled debut album is out July 13 on the Be Why Music label.

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