In this interview for STATUS/الوضع, host Paola Cossermelli Messina speaks with Diya Azzony and Abdullah Filfilan on the current state of the independent music scene in Saudi Arabia.
Abdullah Filfilan is a Saudi Arabian saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist. He performs alongside Diya Azzony in an Arabic musical fusion band named Hejazz, a pun on the Hejaz region of Saudi Arabia where both members live.
Diya Azzony is a guitarist known for setting the traditional poetry of Saudi Arabia to a jazz and rock fusion with his bands Al Farabi and Hejazz. Azzony utilizes the Turkish bouzouki, the oud, the electric guitar, and classical piano to create distinctive melodies and make an imprint on the growing industry of alternative Arabic music. Along with playing with Al Farabi, Azzony is also the founder and manager of the Libra Productions record label. Prior to the creation of his band, Azzony worked in the music industry in both Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. He was the audio studio supervisor at Moon Productions in Dammam in the east of Saudi Arabia, before heading to Liverpool, England, in 2008 to become an engineer and music recorder at Liverpool’s World Museum and assisting in the live music recording of the MTV Europe Awards in 2009. Azzony holds a B.A. in English from King Fahd University and a B.A. in Audio Engineering and Music Production from the SAE School of Audio Engineering. He has completed coursework from the Millennium Institute of Technology and Management in 3D Animation and Design.
Paola Cossermelli Messina is a multimedia journalist and writer born in Brazil. Her research interests fall in the intersections between music, culture and gender in the Middle East. She previously worked as a producer and reporter at a radio station in her home country. In early 2016, she earned a Master's degree in Media Studies from The New School and was awarded the MESA Graduate Student Paper Prize for her research on Iranian women musicians. Her written works have been published by Reorient, Mashallah News and O Estado de São Paulo newspaper. Recently, she has also been credited as a sound designer and editor in short narrative and documentary films.