persiennes / an interview with rahill jamalifard



Habibi Self Title Album Cover

Nilufar Khalessi is journalist & trend forecaster. Founder of web magazine “Persiennes, Correspondances Paris-Téhéran” and associate with Pauline Chiusso, they create this magazine providing a new look at cultures and aesthetics of Iran. It’s a shot of mind – opener. Crossing boundaries in art, fashion, beauty, lifestyle, food, thoughts, spirits, inspiration and more. Persiennes offers a journey in Iran, from flowers of Isfahan to fashion in Tehran. A spiritual trip in the oldest civilization coming back on stage now.

We will share on a regular base a curation of Persiennes. We are very excited about this cooperation. Sharing is the new black!

We discussed with Rahill Jamalifard, the frontwoman of Habibi, a New York music group where Iranian soul meets 60’s Motown. A complete and inspired artist. She’s sharing with us new artistic projects we really love. Enjoy!
When & why did you start the adventure of Habibi?

I started Habibi (Means My love, in arabic) in 2011 with my friend and guitarist, Lenny. We had a mutual love for music, specifically for the middle eastern psychedelic music of the 60s and 70s. We both come from creative backgrounds and so playing together just happened naturally.
You are iranian and we can feel direct persian influence in your music, how do you mix this Motown 60’s sound with your persian roots?

Well I grew up first generation Iranian outside Detroit, Michigan, which is the birth place of Motown. So I think i am a composite of my lineage, my environment, and whatever i chose to expose myself to. This translates musically, i love minor scales, I also love crystalline harmonies, and I love rock n roll. I think the music i write reflects all of that.
What are your favorite aesthetics from Iran?

Thats hard to say, the aesthetics from Iran are all so rich. Persian miniatures from centuries past are some of the most beautiful paintings I’ve ever seen. The islamic architecture built during the Safavid period : Shah Mosque, Chehel Sotun, Hasht Behest. I visited these places in Isfahan as a child growing up, and they all have influenced my love and appreciation for art heavily. I am also really captivated by Iran’s nomadic art and jewelry. My fathers lineage traces back to the Qashqai tribe outside Shiraz, they make the worlds most beautiful tribal rugs, and are known for their original colorful way of dress and jewelry.

What’s next on music?

Well Habibi is now on hiatus, but a couple months ago I started a new project Roya (Means Dream in persian) with Hamish Kilgour of The Clean and two other close friends, so i have really been enjoying creating in a different way, with different people. I’m still doing solo stuff, which is very involved with cultural background. But right now my main focus is writing and recording with Roya, my new band.
You are a complete artist, tell us more about your drawings ? Is it a new project?

Drawing was my first facet of creativity, I’ve always been artistic. I didn’t learn to play music till much later. But my medium for art changes quite often, for the longest time i was making collages, then I started doing pen and ink drawings and then watercolors, then crayons, etc. Most of my art is directly influenced by my iranian heritage, it all tends to speak to how I see myself as, who I see my people as, and the relationship between my western upbringing and my deeply rooted eastern ancestry. Its very personal, like self reflection.
Now, something we ask to all people we meet. A sort of tradition… Please give us your 3 favorite places in Tehran?

Well my father is from Shiraz and my mother is from Isfahan, I have spent very little time in Tehran so I will give you my favorite three places between the two cities I’m familiar with : Hafezieh – Persepolis – Naqshe Jahan Square

Your favorite musician in Iran?

Kourosh Yaghmaei
Three favorite places in New York (Brooklyn)

Coney Island – Prospect Park – Green Wood cemetery
And to finish, 3 favorite american musician?

Velvet Underground (Lou Reed) – Pharoah Sanders – The Stooges
Nilufar Khalessi




Habibi, Rahill Jamalifard on the top right

Habibi, Rahill Jamalifard on the top right