Questions? Here are a list of commonly asked White City queries.
Are you Afghan?
No, White City consist of Ru (UK), Travka (Australia) and Andronik (Sweden). They have lived in Kabul for a combined sixteen years.
But, aren’t you claiming to be Afghan rock/from Afghanistan?
Absolutely not. In all our press releases and media (as far as we can control it), we always make clear we’re a “Kabul-based” band, not from Kabul. There are other awesome Afghan rock bands – from Afghanistan and 100% Afghan – doing their own great music – they’re our friends and our musical colleagues and we try and promote them as much as we can.
How did you meet?
Musicians always find each other, no matter where. In Kabul, the music scene is small and the rock scene even smaller. Musicians get together to jam wherever they can: gigs, parties, events. White City met after Travka and Andronik heard about a recently-arrived female bassist and singer in town, which turned out to be Ru.
How long has White City been playing?
The band originally formed in 2006 as a covers band and has had numerous members come and go. The only founding member left is drummer, Andronik.
What’s White City?
White City is a state of alert created by the UN, meaning movement is restricted for all its staff. Once the UN calls White City, however, it means that many other organisations follow suit and stop their members from going out. It was suggested to the band in June 2007 at a European Commission party, which a lot of people couldn’t attend because of a white city security status.
Are you musicians professionally?
We wish! No, we have our own day jobs to make the rent, just like musicians the world over.
Isn’t Kabul dangerous?
We understand that when people see Afghanistan on TV, an incredibly complex situation that’s been unwinding for years, is compacted into a 2 minute, Technicolor action-fest in stereo, so it’s easy for people to think it’s a warzone out here. In fact, it’s relatively easy to live a normal life. Yes, bad things do sometimes happen in Kabul, but not every day. Yes, there are bombs, there are attacks and occasionally people you know are caught up in it, but there’s also a thriving city full of bustling and vibrant life that goes ahead, no matter what.
Isn’t it dangerous to do music in Kabul?
In short, no. Although we take more precautions putting on a gig than we might do in the west, we find that there is a demand for music here. We’re not here to offend anyone – we wouldn’t be playing if Afghan fans weren’t asking us, “when’s the next concert?”
Why does Ru sometimes wear a hijab?
Although we are not Muslim, we try to respect the local culture. If you see a photo of Ru wearing a hijab, it’s probably taken outside in the street or in a public place. Ru has an extensive collection of hijabs, even ones with skulls and stars on them, and follows sites like welovehijab.com for fashion tips.
What’s the Kabul music scene like?
Small. But very committed. From psychedelic metal to ethnic rock fusion, there’s a lot going on. It’s the nature of Kabul that people come and go, bands form and fall apart, but there’s always something happening, even if it’s just an informal jam around someone’s house. Acts of note (apart from White City) are: District Unknown, Lap o Jap, White Page, Kabul Dreams, Sound Studies and Morcha.
How do you promote?
Through direct mailing lists, sms campaigns and word of mouth. Due to security reasons, we can’t post billboards or widely advertise, but this leads to a more dedicated crowd.
Where do you get your gear?
Hong Kong, Dubai, Istanbul, Melbourne, the UK, the States, everywhere but here. We also bring in gear for the Afghan bands, who can’t order online, as there are no street names here, let alone a reliable mail infrastructure. This means it’s very expensive to purchase and maintain equipment, especially as the dust and fluctuating electricity burns out amplifiers and sound gear very quickly.
Can I travel to Afghanistan and make music?
There’s not a gig scene, as such. We work hard to put on concerts every now and then – it takes a lot of effort, from wiring and doing your own sound, to getting an audience to see you in the face of security restrictions. If you’re in a band, we recommend you check out Soundcentralfestival.com.
Who comes to your gigs?
Pretty much 50-50 Afghan/ex-pat, which is incredibly rare in a city that’s usually socially split, due to foreigners going out during the evening, while Afghans tend to spend the late hours with their families. However, we have a dedicated young, Afghan following, who usually lead the mosh pit at our concerts. We’re trying to put on daytime gigs so more young Afghans can come and see us.
Can I book White City/license a release/use your song/do an interview/say hi?
Of course! We’re open to all inquiries about licensing releases, promotion, gigs and are actively looking for record labels/promotion companies to work with. We also love playing live (just check out biginthestans.com). Please get in touch!