Siren Song: Iranian born singer Tara Tiba finally has her voice heard

Iranian singer Tara Tiba.
Iranian singer Tara Tiba.

IRANIAN born Tara Tiba grew up in Tehran where not even her neighbours had heard her sing.

Now after moving to Perth in 2012, her entire adopted city is going to hear her voice as one of the female vocalists recorded for Perth Festival’s opening event, Siren Song.

“The law has been like it since the Iranian Revolution in 1979,” 33-year-old Tiba, of Dianella, said.

“You can’t perform in public or release an album. Any sort of performance needs permission from the government so you can’t just go in to a cafe and start to sing or play.

“It’s not just about women, that’s for either gender. The difference is that if you’re a woman, you’re never going to get permission.

“Everyone just grows up wanting to leave which is sad because it’s such an amazing country, but most of my friends had already left. I have my parents and other family still there but my sister moved here afterwards as well; she’s a mechanical engineer.”

Tiba, an architectural graduate, found her love for music by studying Western classical piano as a child before, at age 16, she started vocal training in the classical Persian Radif system.

She recorded an EP in Tehran in 2010, but due to the prohibition was unable to release it.

“I was just teaching music and singing because I couldn’t do professional performance, so I moved somewhere I was allowed to do it,” she said.

“I’d never even heard of Perth but I was lucky enough to get a WA state sponsorship, arrived here at 3am without knowing a single person and I’ve just fallen in love with the place.”

Tiba enrolled in a jazz vocals course at WAAPA to meet local like-minded musicians and she is now proud to say she is working on her second album (first was released in 2014) with Grammy award winning Spanish producer Javier Limn in Madrid, due for release in May.

“Singing is what I always wanted to do, it’s why I moved out of Iran and it’s getting there, finally,” she said.

Tiba performed at Perth Festival 2016 opening concert Home and was approached again by artistic director Wendy Martin to be part of this year’s Siren Song where hundreds of speakers will line the western end of St Georges Terrace, transmitting the sound of female vocalists along “the canyon of commerce” for the seven minutes it takes for the sun to rise and set from the evening of Friday, February 9 to Sunday, February 18.

Like other female singers involved including Carolyn Connors, Deborah Cheetham, Tanya Tagaq, Kristal Kickett and Karla Hart, Tiba has recorded her a cappella vocals with sound artist Byron J Scullin who will compose a piece using samples of her voice.

“The interesting thing is that every day is going to be a different composition,” she said.

Siren Song is about an experience, how you feel the vibration in your body and if you film it, it won’t have the same effect because you really need to be in the city, in that time, in that location. It’s all about Perth and it’s going to be about being alive and feeling something different.”

The sunrise Siren Song will sound for seven minutes between 6-6.15am and the sunset version will sound between 7.20-7.35pm.

The first dusk Siren Song on February 9 will begin with a Noongar Gnarnk-Ba Karla Waarnginy cleansing and clearing ceremony at the western end of St George’s Terrace, which will be closed to traffic between Harvest Terrace and Milligan Street from 6-8pm.