FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Seattle Band Releases Conscious Rock Album Invoking Transformation and Inner Peace.
On June 4, Iraqis in Pajamas releases their debut album – a live recording and first in a series of albums that springboard off Iraqi Jewish identity, while exploring how to heal personal and collective brokenness.
Seattle, WA – Iraqis in Pajamas self-titled album, a live recording, goes straight to the gut, tackling forces like violence, illness, and pain, in a deep and nuanced way. “Suffer” address a core theme of the anguish that comes with loving someone who is simultaneously destructive and self-destructive – among other things, explicitly taking Gd to task for creating people whose mental illness includes the inability to recognize they are mentally ill, and therefore, to get help.
“Landmines,” “Way I Have to Live,” “Liferaft,” “Happiness,” and “Goodbye” dive further into the complexities of mental health issues and violence – exploring the struggle of navigating relationships with loved ones who are toxic, and in doing so, getting beyond the black-and-white thinking of good person/bad person. Among other unique perspectives in these songs, there are subtle and explicit references to Jewish practice. “Happiness,” for example, explores the practice of dipping bread in salt, to commemorate the destruction of the Beth Hamiqdash (holy temple) – a practice that simultaneously honors celebration and grief. Perhaps, the song explores, the practice can be understood as an injunctive to accept the ever-present reality of a loved one’s chronic depression, in a both/and model, which – the lyrics ponder – may itself be a form of transformation and liberation.
Panning the lens wider to socio-political issues, “Spent” looks at the impact of living with a chronic health issue and walking through a world that fails to recognize or support people with invisible disabilities. “Pointless” and “Talking about Me” offer a variation on this theme, addressing the exhaustion and exasperation that come with living outside the parameters of social awareness and convention – in particular, always coming out of left field, and having to explain the basics, when sharing the experience of indigenous Middle Eastern Jews. “Conformity” – the first song the band wrote that incorporates Iraqi Jewish prayer with original punk rock – questions the orthodox Jewish community’s penchant for questioning newcomers in a way that feels intrusive and alienating, but, as the song explores, may in fact stem from the desire to connect, albeit with presumptions of tidy Jewish narratives.
At the intersections of personal and political, “Santa Cruz Mountains” explores a dysfunctional romance with a man who is both attracted to and repulsed by Iraqi Jewish identity; “Action-Reaction” calls into question the ways we are pushed into being inauthentic, and explores the personal and societal consequences thereof; and “Doing This” is the culmination of all these songs: the resolution and grace that come with accepting limitations and letting go of what is outside our control – leading to a shift of focus and an accompanying sense of harmony and inner peace.
The album was recorded live at Peel Studios in Seattle, with Loolwa Khazzoom on vocals and bass, Yoshi Takaba on drums, and Kevin Dela Rosa on Guitar, and with all lyrics and melodies written by Khazzoom. The cover art was designed by Ruben Shimonov, a Bukharan Jew from Uzbekistan, now residing in Seattle. Preview album here, visit band website here.
Loolwa is a force of nature. It’s no surprise to us that…her courageous heart expresses itself so eloquently in the hurricane of her gritty music. – Deva Premal & Miten, Billboard chart-topping musicians
Loolwa Khazzoom is a brilliant lyricist and a dedicated artist, with the ability to teach through her art. Loolwa and her band, Iraqis in Pajamas, bring deeply personal truth through song and lyric and make us think through our own human reaction, through their profound and often cathartic performances. We need more of this! We need more art that makes us think in this turbulent world. Loolwa is the pearl in the oyster of a nation in great need of more awareness and enlightened thinking. – Lara Lavi, Grammy Award-winning musician
Hearing Loolwa Khazzoom live is like being struck by a thunderbolt. Her music will crack you open and get under your skin in the best way. Her lyrics are raw and visceral, combining prayer with deeply personal truth…Her music will have you reevaluating what it means to be human. It’s both ancient and modern— holding a startling tension between the sacred and the beautiful chaos of being alive. – Katie Rudman, event producer
Iraqis in Pajamas! Their live performance emotes an unencumbered power of grief, rage, and delight thru song and storytelling, power chords and a capella nusach (Jewish melodic chants). Hear them, and you will know the pulse of modernity entangled with centuries-past. – Stefanie Brendler, event producer
About Iraqis in Pajamas
In turn vulnerable and angry, haunting and inspiring, Seattle-area band Iraqis in Pajamas (IraqisInPajamas.com) disarms audiences, opening them to deep contemplation about trauma, healing, and transformation. With songs in English, Judeo-Arabic, and Hebrew, the band has a unique sound – an innovative blend of ancient Iraqi Jewish prayers, alternative rock, and personal storytelling about topics as varied as cancer, domestic violence, racism, mental illness, street harassment, family caregiving, and national exile.
Khazzoom has had a meandering career as an educator, writer, health coach, and more, all with the central organizing principle of individual and collective healing. Her work has been featured in top media including The New York Times and Rolling Stone; she has presented at leading venues including Harvard University and the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and she has published two books, taught throughout the Ivy League and at universities nationwide – The Flying Camel: Essays on Identity by Women of North African and Middle Eastern Jewish Heritage and Consequence: Beyond Resisting Rape. Ultimately ditching her power suit and power point in favor of combat boots and cat glasses, Khazzoom now offers bold songwriting as the catalyst for deep and heart-centered conversation.