By Susanna Huth
Raised on a musical diet of David Bowie and Pink Floyd, Soraya Sebghati was always destined to be a “rock star.” Based in Los Angeles, Soraya is a member of the indie rock group Night Talks – a cool band with an alternative twist.
Kayhan London caught up with her after the release of the band’s latest album “In Dreams” for a conversation:
Kayhan London: For those who haven’t heard your music, how would you describe it?
Soraya Sebghati: This is always such a tough question! I would say it’s certainly vibey and probably a little on the darker side, but it’s still something you would want to dance to. As if Radiohead, The Killers, and Queens of the Stone Age came together.
Kayhan London: How does an Iranian girl become a rock star?
Soraya Sebghati: [With the help of] supportive and cool/hip parents! I was always into music and acting, and I had initially started out as a “theater kid.” But my whole childhood my parents showed me cool music like David Bowie, the Cure, Pink Floyd, and Fiona Apple, so they definitely planted the seeds for that. My dad is also the one who got me my first guitar.
Kayhan London: How did the band come together? Did you all know each other before you decided to make music together?
Soraya Sebghati: We all attended a weekly music program together, so we were all familiar with each other and each other’s respective musical abilities. Jacob is the one who put the whole band together. He called Cris, and then me, and asked us if we wanted to start a band with him in 2010. The three of us played with a revolving door of bass players until 2013, when Cris mentioned that his brother would play bass for us. Josh then became a full-on member of Night Talks, and the four of us have been a family ever since.
Kayhan London: Do you feel compelled to address political issues and speak as a voice for your country through your music?
Soraya Sebghati: Absolutely! I definitely pepper in certain themes throughout my lyrics, and it’ll be more apparent on newer material. My main priority at the moment is for younger brown people like myself: to see us more represented in popular culture and media.
I didn’t even know I could be in a band and try to be famous when I was younger because I saw so few examples of people who looked like me doing the same things I wanted to do. So I hope to empower younger generations, especially of brown femmes, to shoot for the stars and to believe that they’re capable of doing what all their peers are doing. And of course, [to believe] that our noses are just as pretty as anybody else’s!
Kayhan London: Where did you grow up? Do you think your childhood has influenced your style of music?
Soraya Sebghati: I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and I’m still here! I definitely think my childhood did influence my style of music, only because here in LA you’re exposed to so many different kinds of music. Kids here generally start listening to what “grownups” listen to when we’re still probably too young for it. I definitely grew up on a healthy mix of jazz, rock, and pop music.
Kayhan London: Were you musical as a child?
Soraya Sebghati: I definitely always enjoyed singing as a child, and music class in my elementary school was probably my favorite. I started participating heavily in musical theater as a child, and then eventually made the transition to taking guitar and voice lessons in my preteen years.
Kayhan London: What kind of audience do you want your music to reach?
Soraya Sebghati: As broad an audience as possible! We really don’t discriminate at all. However, there’s something really special about seeing teenagers and people in their 20’s enjoying our music and live shows. It gives me hope that I’m inspiring younger people and that I’m getting people who are often “too cool” to genuinely enjoy something.
Kayhan London: Being the only female member and the lead singer of the band definitely sends an empowering message. Is this something you aimed to do, or did it just happen that way?
Soraya Sebghati: It just happened that way, but I really like the message it sends now. I definitely want to empower more girls/femmes/non-male people, and help them realize that their voices are so worth being heard.
Kayhan London: Are there any exciting projects we can look out for in the coming year?
Soraya Sebghati: We’re already writing new music that we want to release as soon as possible, so definitely stay on the lookout for that! Other than that, I believe we’re trying to get another music video done in the near future, and we’re going to continue to play as many shows as possible.