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Syrian artists bring Aleppo's nightlife to Gaziantep, healing war and earthquake traumas

Syrian artists recreating Aleppo's nightlife in Gaziantep through electronic music

  • MIXMAG MENA | PHOTO: Abdulsalam Jarroud
  • 4 June 2023
Syrian artists bring Aleppo's nightlife to Gaziantep, healing war and earthquake traumas

In the heart of Gaziantep, Turkey, a vibrant scene of electronic music is pulsating with energy, driven by Syrian refugees who have found solace and expression in the beats and rhythms of techno.

Among them is Amr Helwani, a 33-year-old DJ who fled the Syrian war from Aleppo in 2013, as reported by Stefania D'Ignoti from Al Jazeera. He is one of the resident DJs of Room 41, a roving techno and electronic music club started by a Syrian refugee that has been a source of entertainment and community for Gaziantep locals and Syrian refugees alike.

However, the music scene was abruptly silenced when catastrophic earthquakes struck southeastern Turkey and northwest Syria, causing widespread devastation and loss. The trauma of the earthquakes was eerily reminiscent of the war days for many Syrians, including Amr. Despite the adversity, Amr and his fellow artists remained resilient, promising their audience that music would return stronger than ever to uplift their spirits.

The Syrian electronic music scene in Gaziantep is not just about entertainment; it's also about cultural preservation and expression. Rami Magharbeh, founder of Douzan Art and Culture, is working to preserve Syrian arts in exile. He believes that the potential of new forms of artistic expressions, such as electronic music, is part of the cultural heritage that Syrians brought with them.

The Syrian DJs and electronic music enthusiasts have managed to recreate the atmosphere of the nascent scene they left behind in Aleppo. Batoul Mohammad, an electronic-music producer who divides her time between Gaziantep and Istanbul, is one of the artists who have contributed to this cultural revival. She believes that focusing on music helped her to cope with the pain of leaving her family behind and the challenges of being a Syrian woman in the music industry.

Nashwan Jamali, the founder of Room 41, has also played a significant role in reviving Syria’s nightlife in Gaziantep. He believes that music can be a powerful tool for integration and bridging cultural gaps. Room 41 has not only provided a platform for many up-and-coming Syrian DJs but also fostered connections between Syrians and Turks, breaking down social barriers.

Despite the challenges posed by the earthquakes and the ongoing recovery process, the spirit of the Syrian electronic music scene in Gaziantep remains undeterred. The artists are determined to continue creating music and hosting events, using their art as a form of healing and resistance. They are not only keeping the memory of their homeland alive through their music but also contributing to the cultural richness of their new home in Gaziantep.

[Via Al Jazeera]

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