Music

In exile, Zimo becomes Syria's pre-eminent Techno artist

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Syrian musician Zimo calls his music project "Hello Psychaleppo" — as in the Syrian city of Aleppo, but in a psychedelic way.

Zimo's real name is Samer Saem Eldahr. Zimo says Hello Psychaleppo is about "Arab heritage music and electronic sounds." And he believes in the power of music to express a sense of place.

In this track "Tobayabooya," he samples the late Eygptian crooner Abdel Halim Hafez.

Even before the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, Zimo was creating sounds like this in his hometown of Aleppo .

"Back in Aleppo, back in my room, I was just playing around on software, trying to make anything. And then I uploaded these pieces online and people started to listen to this music and liking it."

Especially in Beirut's indie scene. Zimo moved to Beirut in 2012, while he went looking for an art gallery to display his paintings. But as the violence heated up back in Aleppo, his parents told him to stay put in Beirut for his own safety. His parents eventually left for Jordan. 

And it's from his home in Beirut now that Zimo is building the "Hello Psychaleppo" project. Zimo's latest release under the Hello Psychaleppo marquee is the tune "Shahba."

He recently told our colleagues at the BBC that he crowd-sourced the footage for the music video.

"I asked people online to send me any personal footage they took in the city. So it's more something for collective memory, something that we all share. The whole process was bittersweet," he says.

As you'll see in the video, Zimo transforms into a bird, and flies over Aleppo, as it was before the war. 

"Being a bird at the end symbolizes a lot of longing. My body's roaming all over the world, but my soul is back there," he says. 

Zimo's soul is back in Aleppo. A city he's not sure when — or if — he'll ever see again. 

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