I had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing Amir, the founder of Bia2.com, who is also a personal role model of mine because of his creativity, pioneership, and (as I’ve come to observe) great manners. I remember being 13 and discovering Bia2.com, and frantically downloading all the Mp3s I could get my hands on because I was afraid it would shut down, and I’d lose the access to my Iranian-ness that it had granted me. But not only has Bia2 not shut down, its grown in popularity and thanks to Amir and his team, it is now a source for quality Iranian media and entertainment.
I know many people of all ages turn to Bia2.com for not only music, but a little piece of heritage, culture, and home — as was the case with me. A lone Iranian teenager growing up in the suburbs of New Jersey, dancing to Black Cats in front of the mirror.
And while Amir is extremely modest, I think this interview is an ode to his journey: of something that grew from a hobby to a career, and a website that does more than post music.
- Tell me about your background.
I was born in Tehran, Iran and then I moved to the Orlando, Florida when I was 16.
- How was the culture shock?
Yeah, it was a huge shock. My dad, education- wise, doesn’t mess around. So literally, when we moved here, we arrived in Florida from Iran at around 9 pm and the next morning he sent me to school. My uncle had already signed me up and everything, and it had been a week or so that school had already started, but I was so lost. In Iran, you go to one class and the teachers change. But here, I had no idea that you had to get up and change classes. It was just a mess.
I was also the only Iranian student among 2,500 kids so I didn’t have any Persian friends, and it was really rough. But in a way, it was good because it pushed me to be social and meet new people.
I think after six months, I started getting used to things and overall, high school was a really good experience.
- How did Bia2 get started?
When I was in high school, I started Bia2 but it was under a different name, ‘Soltan’.
When I moved to Orlando, people had no idea what Iran was. I wanted to show them but it was really hard to explain, so I made this website and every time people would ask me ‘where are you from?’ I’d show them the website, where I put all the pictures I brought from Iran. Continue reading