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Ever heard of singer and multimedia artist Madanii? If not, it's probably because MADANII is one of the comparatively less well-known artists—for now! Because the singer has a promising repertoire of singing, sound design, aesthetics, collaborations and themes to offer, which already has the potential for the really big stages of the world. Dena Zarrin, as the singer is called, is also professionally involved in many interesting media stories – more on that later. But let's start with a little introduction to the exceptional artist.
MADANII, aka Dena Zarrin, is an artist with Iranian roots who grew up in conservative northern Bavaria and now lives in her adopted home of Berlin. As the only person of color far and wide, Dena was often confronted with everyday racist statements and western ideals of beauty during her childhood and school career, into which she did not seem to fit.
Discriminatory remarks or behavior from others about being worthless and not desirable is reflected in Dena starting to do her own thing at an early age. So she became artistically active at home, continued her education, and made music for herself. "One day I'll show you all" is one of the thoughts that shows that Dena can't be beat.
Following her school career, Dena completed a state degree in "Popular Music and Media" at the University of Paderborn. Despite self-doubt and orientation difficulties, she finally decided to start her own musical project—thusly MADANII was born! In Mannheim she met, among others, the beat producer Lucas Herweg (known by the stage name LLUCID) with whom she quickly formed a duo for numerous tracks and an EP.
From the first release onward the two have instant appeal at an extremely high musical level. The great vocal ability, professional sound design, and unmistakable style leave nothing to be desired. The resulting music merges into a multi-faceted sound language that is somewhere in between 90s R'n'B, soul, trap, techno, Persian folklore, and pop music drawer-like genre classifications eludes and, despite potential contradictions, blends completely organically into one another.
But the overall concept of the extremely fruitful collaboration between the two goes far beyond the audible—just as important to MADANII are the aesthetics in videos and photos, the craftsmanship during live performances, and the design of the merchandise. It pursues a multimedia approach, which means that the aforementioned elements serve to expand musical expression to completion. MADANII initially develops all core ideas alone, but does not shy away from collaborating and implementing them with other artists.
Thematically, the music of MADANII cannot be pinned down to something specific, but often remains vague and open to different approaches to interpretation. The indefinable and contrasting, which also results from the different influences of socialization and individual biography, is what makes MADANII the real attraction. And yet there are lyrical fixed points that are of a biographical and social nature. Such as, for example, addressing the already mentioned racist and discriminatory everyday experiences. Or the confrontation with Western ideals of beauty, which stand in contrast to various other bodies and forms of expression.
There are also numerous musical influences in terms of sound, such as Persian folklore or R'n'B, in MADANII's music. Dena understands these as parts of her inner system and emphasizes that they are also reflected in her own music in a completely natural and organic way. But she simply defines her music as pop music and would rather refrain from exoticizing terms like “oriental pop” or “world music.” As a German woman who was born in southern Germany and has only traveled to Iran twice, she would find it presumptuous to be considered a representative of Persian culture in this country.
The artist currently has around 12,000 listeners on Spotify every month and has over 3,700 fans on Instagram. Most recently she was a supporting act with the singer MINE on her Germany-wide "Over" tour. The singer has been a big fan of MADANII for many years.
MADANII is also involved in numerous other online projects. She moderates part of the FOMO podcast, which reports briefly and concisely on current topics from the news and the Internet every day and is published by Spotify itself. Dena is also the co-host of the UNLOCK podcast, which deals with sexuality and communicating one's own sexual boundaries and ambiguities. Dena was also a guest on an episode of Leon Windscheid's "Besser So" podcast, in which she talks about her childhood and youth, discrimination, psychological problems, the misdiagnosis of borderline, empowerment and the path to finding yourself.
Did you like the article and would you like to find out more about current German-speaking newcomers? Then take a look at my article on the up-and-coming artist Schmyt. If you are interested in even more articles on artists and musical topics, you will find a large, constantly growing selection of relevant content on our mukken Blog. And if you are a musician yourself and want to network with other musicians in your area for a joint (band) project, you will find what you are looking for here on mukken.
Originally published on July 14, 2022, updated on September 22, 2022