A Kurdish asylum seeker has released a music video recorded inside Manus Island Detention Centre, with help from a team of Australian musicians.
31-year-old refugee Mostafa ‘Moz’ Azimitabar, who has been in detention for over four years, recorded the vocals for his song ‘All The Same’ on his mobile phone, calling on Australians to “help us keep our sanity, remember our humanity”.
Music therapist Dr Emma O’Brien OAM, who arranged and produced ‘All The Same’, tells Music Feeds that the project started when Moz emailed her a sketch of a song he was working on, with guitar and vocals over a simple loop track.
“The biggest challenge of course was getting a good quality vocal from Moz that we could put into the recording,” O’Brien says.
“We looked at recording apps and possibilities of people being nearby on Manus with recording equipment, but of course none of that was possible. We trialled singing through multiple phone inputs and the best quality outcome was direct into voice notes on his mobile.
“I spoke regularly [with Moz] via Messenger — texts and short voice messages — coaching him, getting his feedback, getting multiple versions of his vocal. Once he had sent over several versions we began the selecting process and built a complete lead.
“Moz wanted cello and trumpet, so we connected with Blair Harris for the cello and Craig Pilkington at Audrey Studios [for the trumpet]. At every recording session we communicated with Moz, sending photos, short voice note recordings, getting his feedback, keeping him involved.
“Moz would often say to me how the recording process and the song was giving him strength, helping him feel less alone.”
O’Brien says the project — which was initiated through a letter writing campaign facilitated by barrister and refugee advocate Julian Burnside AO QC — has been “an extraordinary experience” that was “both confronting and inspiring”.
Moz, meanwhile, says he hopes the song draws attention to the plight of all refugees.
“We have been left in political limbo for four years now,” he says. “The conditions are hellish and how they treat us is deplorable. I hope people who are listening to my song will understand our desperation, frustration and fear.”