The streets of Istanbul are a haven for a variety of different talents and skills, the street of Independence Avenue, Istiklal Caddesi, to be exact. For years, this street has been home to people of different ethnic roots baring their musical souls to the 2 million or so people passing by. On this street, 6 years ago, the Light in Babylon shone through, bringing together 3 people of different ethnic backgrounds to infuse one language into our ears: music.
Singer Michal Elia Kamal, from Israel with Iranian roots, French guitarist Julien Demarque, and Turkish santur player Metehan Ciftci had a bit of trouble with verbal communication and yet, the language of music brought them together to form what is now known as the Light of Babylon. What started on the streets gained attention enough to welcome the band to international festivals and shows!
Michal tells Qantara: “Our band members come from different regions and speak different languages, but we still have a shared culture and language – music,”
The band’s name comes from the history of Babylon. The Tower of Babel divided people and forced them to speak different languages but through their experience on the streets of Turkey, they chose the name ‘Light of Babylon’ to reflect the unison they found in music.
“Our first stage was the street,” says Michal. “People are walking home, going to work or on their way back – no one looks, no one laughs. But as soon as you start making music people stop, listen, laugh, cry, dance and talk to each other.”
Light of Babylon truly cares for peace in the Middle East as Michal also says:
“When people hear our music, they don’t think of any one politician or a certain government. There’s something in it that goes deeper. We live in the Middle East and in this wonderful place, we have a lot of empathy for the great suffering many people have to go through. With our music, we send out messages and prayers for peace.”
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