Nina Cristante is an artist, autodidactic nutritionist, Aquarius and my best friend. Had it not been for a mutual friend linking us during her temporary stay in NYC seven months back, I may’ve never been introduced to the full spectrum of her work. Just a subtle trail of digital breadcrumbs. Slow-mo-promo. A whisper, a wink, a bikini body meme. A deliberately ambiguous website hosting austere at-home workout videos and fragments of clients’ food diaries.
DJ Negar is a tween trance act from Iran, a trusted source of hyper-melancholic music.
In this first video, we find Negar decked out in a faux Formula-1 Racing outfit, complete with red baseball cap, in a TV studio recording. Her weepy facial expressions and praying/pleading hand gestures amidst a glistening sheen background visual is bewildering and begs me to ask, how did they reach this styling conclusion?
The name of the song is Age Mano Dustam Dari, which translates roughly as “If You Like/Love Me.” If only this was a Facebook-style song title, but it happens to be well known folk song. If you’re familiar with the Iranian penchant for sadness, you’ll know that her gestures are pretty liking/loving. As the song progresses, the studio backdrop reveals an ornamental green-screen shaded door (green-screen green incidentally is the holiest color in Islam). How befitting and post post modern. I immediately notice a split-second pattern: everything is red, white and green. The station logo, the backdrop of red and green walls mixed with Negar’s outfit, creates the colors of the Iranian flag. The rest of the video is pretty much the same. But that’s not important. The fact is this Islamic, girl tween, trance-y, Formula 1 lookbook is an astounding string of tags (Formula 1 clearly winning said tag race).
In Jam-e-Jahani, Negar does a duet with her trusty sidekick, Armin. Both wearing backwards red caps, Negar’s head solemnly hangs over her white, long sleeve tee while cheering sounds flare in the background. A background video of an Iranian flag-heavy soccer match plays and Armin begins to sing a downer, auto-tune vocal, flailing his arm in a gesture of aptly-stoned, heroic defiance. His red, black-striped, polo shirt with matching red arm band makes me question the significance of the color red in Iranian culture. I’m sure it’s major, but haven’t figured it out just yet.
After the awesome downer intro, a boisterous chorus of soccer-match-winning exuberance erupts onscreen. With the arms-up-in-the-air chorus concluded, our beloved tomboy idol of Iran, Negar, starts to sing and bop her head to the predictable beat. More of the same follows, ending the song in a corny clapping outro and heads hanging low, macho drama style.
After watching both videos, one can say that Negar’s nationalistic color scheme conditions her music to be some kind of patriotic trance. On the other hand, and ultra-nationalism aside, her obsession with athletic looks is on point and could easily appeal to tomboys worldwide. Overall, DJ Negar has the potential to be the global trance tween queen. If only that category was transformed into a reality TV show competition…