Nadia Tehran is an outsider. Raised in a Muslim Iranian family in a Swedish Christian town, the singer has lived a life characterised by misadaptation: creating music that explores self-identity, politics, and cultural confusion. Her first ever EP, Life is Cheap, Death is Free – released back in May – played like a defiant battle cry against society, and was followed by a fearless debut single “Refugees” (the track’s video was filmed in Iran, where it is technically illegal for women to sing).
Tehran’s latest visual outing is attached to the EP’s final track, “Superstars”. Unlike “Refugees”, which is about “taking a stand and fighting a battle”, the latest single shows a softer, more gentle side to the singer. “‘Superstars’ is about what happens when the struggle is over and you have to deal with the new reality,” she explains. “When you flee from your country you leave a whole life behind, a context where you mean something to someone. When you come to a place, a context that you don't recognise and that don't understand you, nobody knows who you are. It's about being the only thing that's right in a world full of errors.”
“It's about being in an environment where you can't fit in, no matter how hard you try you know you still stand out. Still, nobodysees you” – Nadia Tehran
The track’s video depicts a “superstar in exile”, according to Tehran. “I wanted to portray this feeling of alienation, to know that you are great in a place where you're not recognised. Starting over with the past always present. It's about being in an environment where you can't fit in, no matter how hard you try you know you still stand out. Still, nobodysees you.”
In a nod to her heritage, the track also contains a sample from the song “Kavir” by Iranian singer Googoosh – an artist who was forbidden to perform after the country’s revolution in 1979, and one of Tehran’s biggest inspirations. “She is the voice of a generation lost, the face of a culture that the power tried to kill, and the soundtrack of a time that we carry in our broken hearts,” she says. “I've always been very inspired by her.”
Although “Superstars” is only her second ever single, Tehran is hoping to release her first full-length album in 2017. She has also managed to secure a major partnership with Smirnoff, sharing videos online for the brand’s latest ‘We’re Open’ campaign. This includes an in-depth film detailing the singer’s career, life, and influences. “Her music is borderless,” Smirnoff says of Tehran. “It brings cultures and people together.”