Mark Gergis, a London-based Iraqi-American artist, producer, and audio-visual archivist, is known for compiling and producing dozens of internationally renown releases for the Sublime Frequencies and Sham Palace labels. With a special focus on folk, pop, and hybrid pop-folk genres, highlighting unique artists and traditions from Syria, Iraq, and Southeast Asia since the early 2000s. With his current project, Syrian Cassette Archives, Mark aims to restore, preserve, catalog and share his collection of Syrian media from what can be called Syria’s cassette era (1980s-2010), which ended with the onset of the devastating Syrian crisis in 2011.
Syrian Cassette Archives is a project aiming to document, preserve and share hundreds of audio cassettes from what can be called Syria’s cassette era (1980s-2011). At the heart of the collection are over 500 cassette tapes acquired by audio archivist Mark Gergis between 1997- 2010, reflecting years of research and personal connections with local music shops, producers, distributors and musicians around the country. Many of these ephemeral tapes weren’t previously digitized, with a largely undocumented narrative before the 2011 war. Thus, the project finds urgency in mapping and preserving this facet of contemporary musical heritage for Syrians and the wider public via multiple platforms and mediums, including interviews with musicians and producers from the era. After Syria’s decade-long conflict, long-standing music circuits and traditions have been disrupted. The hope is that Syrian Cassette Archives can help stem the cultural amnesia and loss that can arise from these disruptions, and help bridge the gap between Syria’s analogue musical landscapes at the turn of the century and what residues of it remain digitally or online.