Christoph Fahle
September 3, 2012

Farhad Payar - Transparency for Iran

Farhad Payar is a freelance journalist and documentary filmmaker with a wealth of experience in a wide range of industries. Born and raised in Iran he came to Berlin to study Mechanical Engineering and Political Science during the 1980s. He then took on a multitude of jobs working as a taxi-driver and a social worker among other professions.

Currently he is working as an actor, filmmaker, theatre director and journalist based in Berlin. More recently, he has been working on a project called “Transparency for Iran”, an online news resource designed to provide a broader perspective on current events in Iran and heighten the German public’s awareness of these issues. The goal is to support human rights and press freedom, through holistic understanding of Iranian internal affairs and local knowledge.

Interview by: Lisa Hillers

How does your personal background and previous experience influence your work for TFI?

I like to think that every new experience opens a door in a person’s consciousness. It allows you to look at certain phenomena in a different way, and sometimes gives you a more profound understanding of things. Regarding my journalistic work at TFI, the little political work that i did back in the day, really helps me research and select the subjects and themes for our articles.

Do you have any particular subjects that attract your interest more than the others?

I am very interested in cultural matters. In Iran, the line between culture and politics is very difficult to define as every cultural action is made political by the government. Because the government attempts to control everything, cultural and social activities automatically become political issues. Basically, I am interested in what influences people culturally, i want to get to know their own perspectives, thoughts and ideas on all kinds of different social issues.

Do you feel that issues in Iran are given sufficient coverage in the German media ?

There is a lot of information about Iran in the media, though unfortunately the scope is relatively limited. There is so much going on in the world that it is inevitable that important stories from each country are overlooked. That’s what we are here for. However we are not looking to replace the German media, more to complement it through offering alternative points of view. For example, a meeting of the Arab states can be perceived in a certain way in Germany and perceived differently in Iran. TFI tries to offer this Iranian perspective, too.

On your website, it says that “every culture is like a text that is interpreted differently by everyone that attempts to read it.” Can you elaborate on this?

Just like narratives, societies convey their own meaning. Our team of journalists local knowledge and language skills enable them to fully explore all background information available, and thereby offers the reader a whole new perspective on the subject matter. The German author, Ingeborg Drewitz had a profound impact on my life, at a memorial I once heard someone describe her main quality as “seeing with the eyes of others and hearing with the ears of others.” This has become my personal life motto and it also remains at the core of the TFI philosophy.

How important is social media for social movement in Iran?

In countries without free speech and a free media, social media is enormously important. In Iran,the TV has turned into a propaganda-machine, it functions solely as a disseminator of pro-government views and religious motifs. So if you are looking to be entertained, you have to have satelite television. For lots of young people the internet is a gateway to information, they download a series or listen to their favourite band´s new album online. It is also an important outlet for free speech, Iranian people are very active in cyberspace.  Persian was actually voted one of the most used languages in the internet, recently.

Why did you choose to work at betahaus?

Our treasurer, Shamin Rafat used to have his office here and suggested we join. He spoke very highly about betahaus. So far, we are very happy to be here.

Thank you very much for this interview!

I’m currently in Sende - a great coworking and coliving space in Spain, very close to the Portuguese border. I travel pretty often and the idea of being out in the Galician countryside, around other creative, entrepreneurial people sounded like a good idea. I’m currently doing a sort of high-level "Design Thinking" appraisal of my business, rethinking what I’ve learned so far in this first stage of business and how we can improve our services to better benefit clients and artists. The rest of the time I spend on music-making, and mixing the next batch of my own music for future release.

People in beta Clay Bassford Bespoke Sound

To be honest, I sort of fell into it. I was always working somewhere between content marketing and the music industry and around seven years ago a friend of a friend was searching for someone to help him curating music for his boutique surf spot on the beach in Costa Rica. The owner was a big music fan, but he just didn't have time to keep all the music up-to-date. So I got introduced to him, we shared similar tastes, and agreed that I would do the music for his space - curating it and updating it with new music on a regular basis.

This for me was a dream come true. I could finally work with music all day, and at the same time, I could help create an awesome experience for the guests. I saw people's reactions when they heard a song they liked. I saw them dancing, getting a little closer to each other at the bar and that for me was really rewarding.

This was the moment when I realized that there is something special about this idea and I got interested if there is actually market out there. I did some market research, and a lot of interviews with different hoteliers people in the industry trying to get more feedback. And the idea started growing more and more. 

People in beta Clay Bassford Bespoke Sound



Interesting is the story of the last years winner in the category “Creative”. Hamburg based headraft literally took music experience to the next level by creating the world’s first AR Music Video for the German band “die Fantastischen Vier”. Designed for their song “Tunnel”, the cited app unfolds a virtual story world once the track starts playing, giving fans the opportunity to go on an interactive journey with the band rather than being a passive viewer. 

Applications are now open! Finalists will be awaited by a curious jury of five leading industry experts. Among others, Kathleen Cohen who was already taking part in the first year will be in the panel of judges again. With a 25-year multiplatform career history under her belt, she is one of the most regarded in the field. As a digital experience expert, she has successfully implemented projects for DreamWorks Interactive and IBM Innovation, to name a few.

Needless to say, the yearly AUREA Award is definitely the place to be. Apply and become a member of the community bringing together all the promising products and solutions in the AR/VR sector.

Photo by AUREA Award

OKAY BUT HOW IS BESPOKE SOUND DIFFERENT THAN PLAYING MY "DISCOVER WEEKLY’’ OR ANY OTHER AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED PLAYLIST ?

Well, both. Currently we offer the following two options: shorter publicly available Brand Playlists and long-form private Soundtracks for spaces. For both of them we work closely with the client to understand how sound fits into their brand DNA and what their audience is like.

We believe that the guests’ experience with a particular space doesn’t have to begin and end with their stay. The idea of the Brand Playlist is to be a public brand playlists designed to engage the customers before, during, and after their visit at a space. It’s always accessible for them and serves as a new, dynamic marketing channel.

The Soundtrack is slightly different. It takes sometimes up to weeks of work and is designed by a world-class artist, DJ, or tastemaker. For it we first work with you to develop a deep understanding of your business and style. Then we match you with the perfect artist, DJ, or tastemaker to create unique, always fresh playlists, custom tailored to match your brand. 

In both cases, we update them regularly based on guest habits and clients’ needs. 

People in beta Clay Bassford Bespoke Sound



The way we engage with the music community is something really important for us and honestly, what makes us different than other background music providers. A lot of the background music providers out there have internal teams of maybe five or six DJs that do all of the music for their clients. We aim to connect with the local scene and always work with local DJs. There's some kind of magic in finding the exact right artists for the brand.

And on the flip side of it, when we hire artists, we make sure that the project is also inspiring for them and that they would be interested in participating. We always make sure to pay them well. The whole project creates for them a new income stream that they wouldn't have otherwise.

People in beta Clay Bassford Bespoke Sound

Yes! This was really fun. The objective with the betahaus "betabeer sounds" playlist was to showcase the community side of betahaus. There are so many cool, interesting people in the betahaus community and we thought a playlist could be a perfect way to not only help bring the community together but also show the diverse funkiness of the communities of Berlin and Neukölln, which is why Hazy Pockets, a longtime local Berlin DJ known for his eclectic mixes, was perfect for this project.

This playlist moves from bluesy 60s rock into surf and tropicalia, picking up momentum into Motown and onwards through some laid back disco tunes. Perfect for the betabeer events betahaus hosts monthly!


YOU’RE CURRENTLY ENJOYING THE SUN FAR FROM BERLIN. WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES in berlin that YOU MISS THE MOST?

Oh, there are just so many! Like the Imren Grill for instance where you can find the best homemade Turkish food or Das Gift and Gordon which are both run by great music people. Kohelenquelle in Prenzleuer Berg is my favorite local bar (or rather kneipe). To satisfy my  techno / electronic records needs I always go to Hard Wax and one of my most special places is the Zions Kirche steeple, which has an awesome view of the city and a great Weinerei close by. 


You can see me around betahaus. Online, you can always check out my website and listen to our public playlists on Spotify. We’re also currently working on a collaboration with betahaus, so a special Playlist curated by is will very soon sound around the spaces in Kreuzberg and Neukölln. 

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