19 November 2004

''Unknown To No One''

AZAD-HYE (17 November 2004): In December 2003 we introduced our readers to an Iraqi musical band called "Unknown To No One". The Band consisted of five young members, mostly university students or fresh graduates. It was formed few years back when the Iraqi old regime was still in power.

It all started as a dream in a place where everything was evolving around one phenomenon (Big Brother; Saddam Hussain). Two young Armenian boys: Art (or Artin Haroutunian) and Shant Garabedian dared to translate the dream into reality. They decided to create a musical band.

Somehow they found the resources to produce their first demo song, with limited sound engineering devices, just to make others aware of their presence. Soon after this song was aired on the local radio they thought of inviting other members to form a wider band.

Hassan Ali, Nadeem Hamed and Akhlad Raouf sent them a postal response and expressed their desire to join in. After being introduced to each other they started to record their first complete song. The authorities of the local radio did not allow the release of this song if they do not pay tribute to Saddam Hussain by a song dedicated to his birthday. They were obliged to do so in order to gain acceptance from the authorities. There was no other was to get permission for the broadcasting their songs.

Later a music record store owner offered them to produce an album. Depending on their own capabilities and without having any professional support they managed, with limited budget, to have eight songs recorded. Young people started buying their simple piece of work which was in display at the music record store.

Next a more promising move came. They sent copy of their album to a British producer, who was surprised to hear such a performance under the limited technology available in Iraq. He promised to arrange a concert for them in Britain. War break out in March 2003 and Coalition Forces invaded the country. Two weeks before the war the correspondent of "Sunday Telegraph" asked the owner of the music record store to arrange for an interview with the boys. It was risky to accept such an offer, fearing the consequences, since talking to foreigners would invite the rage of the Iraqi secret police. However, the boys agreed to the interview after which they were warned not to repeat such things without having the agreement of the secret police and the presence of their agent in all contacts with foreigners.

After the war many other media representatives (BBC, Associated Press, New York Times, The Observer, etc) interviewed them. They become top story on Internet. Channel 4 invited them to Britain to produce some recordings. Bary Maison offered a song to the boys and there was invitation to play in the House of Commons, etc.

All these were almost achievable and the world was ready to hail them on this first cultural attempt of the new democratic Iraq. But they had to wait for months until the authorities granted them travel documents, after which they were not able to make the journey to Amman, Jordan, where the British Embassy might have granted them the entry permits (visas) for their journey. The momentum was lost and they were trapped in the realities of the post war Iraq.

In the website you can find detailed biography of each member of the group, list of the songs that appeared in the first album with the lyrics of some of the songs. The photo gallery hosts some ten photos of the group members in different settings, some taken in the streets of Baghdad. You can write down your thoughts in the "Guest Book". E-mails of all five members and their telephone contact details are available under "Contact Us".

The 5 members of the Band:

Art (or Artien Haroutunian): Keyboardist, the most active member in the band. He is nicknamed "The Machine". He wrote most of the songs and music of the first album. He was born in Iraq 1977 and studied in the Faculty of Foreign Languages, English Literature Department.

Shant Garabedian: Born in Iraq 1977, studied in the College of Agriculture. He performs rap music.

Nadeem Hamed: Vocalist, born in Iraq 1982, studies in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Department of Biology.

Hassan Ali: Guitarist and vocalist, Born in France 1982, studies in the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Department of Chemistry.

Akhlad Raouf: Vocalist, born in the US 1979, studied in the Faculty of Civil Engineering.

Titles of the songs of the first album:

1- Especialized 2- My Love Will Never Die3- We're Coming Through4- Till The End Of Time(From Now On)5- Dreaming of You6- Walls7- Hey Girl8- Hey Girl (With Joza, and old Iraqi instrument)

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