Date: February 03, 2022
Venue: Cafe OTO
Address: 22, 18-22 Ashwin St, London E8 3DL
Time: 20:30
Organized by: MARSM UK + SACF
Accessibility: Wheelchair accessible

Concert, discussion, DJ/VJ-Sets, cassette exhibition. With Mark Gergis, Yamen Mekdad, Hazem Jamjoum, Sarah El Miniawy, Omran Zain, Kareem Samara, Walid Zedo, Manon Schwich.

An eclectic evening celebrating Syrian Cassette Archives, an initiative to preserve, share and research analogue music tapes from Syria’s abundant cassette era (1970s to 2010). Bringing together seasoned performers from across London, the night will feature a live performance by singer Omran Zain, Kareem Samara on oud and Walid Zedo on percussion, cassette and vinyl DJ sets by Mark Gergis, Yamen Mekdad & Hazem Jamjoum with visual projections by Manon Schwich, and complemented by a discussion that will be moderated by Sarah El Miniawy.

Syrian Cassette Archives is an initiative aiming to preserve, share and research sounds and stories from the cassette era (1970s-2000s) in Syria. At the heart of the initial collection are cassette tapes acquired by audio-archivist Mark Gergis during multiple stays in Syria between 1997 and 2010. The collection of tapes presents a wide-ranging overview of musical styles from Syria’s many communities, including Syrian Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds and Armenians, as well as Iraqis displaced by sanctions and wars throughout the 1990s-2000s. The archive is home to tape recordings of live concerts, studio albums, soloists, classical, religious, patriotic and children’s music, with a special focus on the regional dabke and shaabi folk-pop music, performed and recorded at weddings, parties and festivities.

The tapes weren’t collected with the intention of forming a comprehensive overview of Syrian music or becoming a public archive. Instead, the collection reflects a period of personal research and exploration, aided by connections made with local music shops, producers and musicians during the time. Since its inception in 2018, the Syrian Cassette Archive’s team of collaborators and producers has grown, as has the collection itself, with hundreds of additional cassettes being added to the archive from donors and collaborators in Syria and abroad. As the breadth and scope of the project have expanded, so have its aspirations to become not only a digital archive but a hub for people interested in Syrian music to connect, learn and create.

This event is proudly presented as part of SACF’s 2022 programme, London’s Syrian Arts and Culture Festival, and is a joint collaboration between Marsm and Zamakan, supported by Shubbak. Part of the Against Disappearance series presented by Shubbak with the British Council Cultural Protection Fund which is led by the British Council in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

Syrian Cassette Archives is supported by the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture – AFAC, Hauptstadtkulturfonds Berlin and Gwärtler Stiftung.