SMR006 – 03 May 2024

“Code” follows the single “The New Normal” (2020) and the EP “Foil” (2021). The challenging nature of the past three years for Stereotype is vividly heard in the titular song.

Subterranean rumblings, freestyle synthesizers, a pure heartbeat beat. All these broken structures and dynamic details create a taxing quality.

“This is our most emotional song,” says Xeen. Created in Istanbul: Corona seemed endless, her mother had died, transitioning into a new music scene was draining, and their own art stumbled. Despite the change in location, the desire for an independent creative life seemed to drift far away again.

“We fought so hard and went through so much. And for what? We questioned everything back then,” Xeen recalls. And Meshcut references David Lynch’s statement that too much suffering blocks art. Were all those ambitions a wrong turn?

The story of Stereotype is one of defiance. A continuous transition. When there are always boundaries to overcome. Societal and geographical, mental and emotional. When making music seems impossible yet is the only solution. A valve and refuge, a declaration of war and a driving force. Iranian musicians Meshcut and Xeen channel grief, restlessness, and hope into intense songs between electronic rock and synthwave. Raw, experimental, and with a dark magnetic pull. Their EP “Code” resonates with all the tensions the duo has experienced on their artistic journey so far. Sound, vocals, and lyrics reflect not only their external journey from Tehran through Istanbul to Paris but also internal states deeply influenced by the repression in their homeland and the resulting nomadic existence.

The disruptive energy unleashed by “Code” is already palpable in the opener “Afraid.”

Pulsating beats and echoing pulses are penetrated by Meshcut’s voice. Stoic and unsettling.

“Back to the moment where we started / everything just seemed so far.” This line, repeated and varied, becomes the ominous mantra of their own story. “This song is an act of protest: When we founded Stereotype, a professional career as musicians seemed unattainable,” Meshcut explains. “But now we express loudly what we want.” Despite the fears, despite the circumstances. They consciously choose the creative process. Again and again. Meshcut acts as a singer, lyricist, and on the synthesizers. Xeen, on the other hand, focuses on sound design, production, and electronic playing. “We try to create all the songs together,” says Xeen. “We sit together for hours, discussing our concept and how we want to encourage listeners to think and empathize.”

The strong impulsive dynamism that characterizes Stereotype stems from the different backgrounds of the musicians. Xeen grew up in a family surrounded by rock and metal.

Since she wasn’t allowed to learn guitar publicly as a girl in Iran, she taught herself the instrument at home and started her own all-female indie rock band at 18: The Finches. At an open jam session, where the small underground scene in Tehran gathered every Friday,

Xeen met Meshcut in 2020. “I was studying veterinary medicine at the time, my father had just died, and I realized: Music can save my life. Music is improvisation. Music is free expression,” Meshcut recounts. The sessions were a magical safe space where everyone could contribute equally. There, Meshcut unleashed her vocal range. Dark and sirenic, empathetic and disturbing. She worked with producers from pop to rock before developing her own avant-garde style with Xeen. Strongly influenced by the uncertainties of the pandemic and the pressure of the political situation. But also buoyed by immense artistic determination. And by the resilience formed within Tehran’s music community.

“Code” follows the single “The New Normal” (2020) and the EP “Foil” (2021). The challenging nature of the past three years for Stereotype is vividly heard in the titular song.

“The reason why I am alive is a lie,” Meshcut sings in “Code,” almost as if reciting a poem. And once again, she emphasizes this line, which recurs steadily. The number “Watch it” picks up the motif again: Like a harsh, techno club-ready sister of “Code.” Like an alarm, awake-up call. “The sound reflects the simmering underlying danger that is always there when you live in a system of oppression,” says Meshcut. The internal conflict that arises from having to deny oneself repeatedly emerges in “Watch it.” An invitation to open eyes and ears, to be mindful and honest with oneself.

The spherical “Tehran,” on the other hand, sounds cathartic and longing, an ode to women in Iran. To those who want to be seen, heard, and needed. Condensed in the line: “Don’t speak up / your head down / keep in line / you are not wanted.” The song originated when she was very homesick, Xeen explains. “In the sound landscape, I put everything I remember from Iran. What I love and hate at the same time.” It’s a thin line, Meshcut explains: “Even if you just want to do your thing and don’t always want to pay attention to politics, you’re still a provocation by your mere existence.” Their name, Stereotype, also emerged from their self-perception as female artists: “We just want to be a band,” Xeen explains. But so many expectations are placed on women and so many prejudices exist that they wanted to address that directly with their name. An ironic game that becomes a power tool. And it works live in a special way.

“The stage is the most dreamlike place for us,” says Xeen. Experiencing people move to their

music, messages and emotions getting across, that’s “the ultimate thing that can happen,” says Meshcut. Public performances as liberation. As meaning and community building. So far, this has happened in Berlin, Cologne, Munich, Amsterdam, and Istanbul. Stereotype creates acoustic atmospheres that completely engulf the audience. Like with “The Wind in the Willows”: The adaptation of Kenneth Grahame’s children’s book sounds like the soundtrack to a dystopian film, infused with breakbeats and distorted guitars. “Our songs shake me up,” says Meshcut. “Because music is what keeps us alive.”

Stereotype on 30M!

STEREOTYPE is an Electronic Rock/Synth wave duo that came into being in 2020 amidst the chaotic underground music scene of Tehran. The band’s formation coincided with the global spread of

Read More »