Carmel Farahbakhsh, Sound Artist – K’jipuktuk (Halifax)

Carmel Farahbakhsh (aka Saydah Ruz) is a sound artist, composer, violinist, performer interested in the aural mystery of a queered prayer, forever examining how to create multidimensional calls to pleasure, self, ritual, healing that reverberate through their trans experience and echo into their second-gen Iranian cultural reality. Today, they think a queered prayer sounds like a mixture of diasporic romanticism, fast heavy looped strings, leather hitting skin in isolation, Ridván Mubarak, aunties gossiping soft on the phone. They collaborate with various creatives locally such as acting composer and instrumentalist for Liliona Quarmyne and Mo Drescher’s performance and residency titled Moves & Marks: tenderness-risk-boundaries and also work alongside long-time collaborator Moor Mother in musicianship and artmaking. They are in deep love with The Khyber Centre for the Arts and the K’jipuktuk (Halifax)-based EVERYSEEKER festival that celebrates contemporary underground music – serving as a board member for both exceptional spaces. They are currently working on their first solo project self-titled Saydah Ruz. (Photo by Heather Rappard, courtesy of The Khyber Centre for the Arts)

  1. Hafiz

Mystic Sufi poet, spinner of rich love poems, ecstatic adorer of the divine, words saturated in amorous spirituality. In my family we practice Fal-E Hafiz, an ancient Iranian tradition where you WWJD but to the oracle Hafiz, opening a book with a deep wish or profound question that only Hafiz can answer. Hafiz is comfort, gift, deep sigh. Please, please read Hafiz. (I recommend with Iranian chay and a glass bowl of sholeh zard (saffron rice pudding); it will change your life – I promise.) Hafiz is also very good for sharing – send voice notes to your best friend, start a Hafiz poetry club with your lovers, take photos of your favourite verse and send it to your chosen-family Instagram group chat.

  1. Buttermilk pancakes with caramelized bananas & misc. berries

To process being in isolation, I have become the king of breakfast. I am pleasure hunting in every way that I have access to right now. When things have felt hard, unsure, too overwhelming, living in the neck and pelvis, pressure on chest, I try to travel to tangible locations of joy or magic. Often, sometimes, lately it’s been difficult to reach, but when I can, that place has been sticky-sweet-beautiful dessert for breakfast. To caramelize the bananas, I melt (a lot) of butter into a frying pan and gently fold in (a lot) of brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, a pinch of salt, then I fry the banana at high enough heat to have the mixture boil and steam. I let the slices turn to crispy gooey perfection and then add berries. As for the buttermilk pancakes, I use my mom’s recipe and I can’t give that away. Sorry, kids.

  1. Small things

I am obsessed with tiny things. This was discovered years ago at a crowded local bar when I cried during a first date because my date showed me a video of a hedgehog having a birthday party and eating the smallest piece of cake. To be very clear, it wasn’t the hedgehog that did anything for me; it was the smallest sprinkle on the miniature cake slice, the microscopic decorative bunting held up by toothpicks, the mini-plate to catch the even mini-er crumbs. About two years ago a wonderful and brilliant Sagittarius gifted me miniatures every few months as delightful treats. I almost always cry whenever I get these perfect gifts. Pictured above, I am holding my favourite yet: an extremely utilitarian toolbox. Very useful, very important.

  1. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus for every bath that allows me to be in my body, have a body, banish cold lingering winter temperatures, think about you. Eucalyptus to open chests, throats, cleanse. Reverent exhalitations. I have dried eucalyptus all over my apartment and tattooed on my chest. It’s been an important element of my survival in the body that I have had for many years and continues to be. Being trans is holy, magic, powerful, but it’s also hard, especially during isolation without access to the trans community in tangible ways that I’m used to. Eucalyptus baths/steamy showers are a way that I can connect to my body in ways that don’t feel painful. I imagine that I am a eucalyptus bough: graceful, medicinal, beautiful, healer.

  1. Advieh

A spell/spice blend that makes everything warm. I have been trying to make sounds that taste like Advieh for years. It’s everything powerful. Some especially important ingredients: rose petals as an ally for grief, dried limes to catalyze emotional clarity, turmeric as energizer and deep healer…. A spell. I use this often – another practiced way to be in my body if I need to be.