Radio Karantina brings solace to listeners on days of lockdown

The material uploaded on Instagram, Facebook and Sound Cloud is curated by producers and music lovers confined in Beirut, Berlin, Baltimore and Montreal, among others.
Saturday 04/04/2020
Radio Karantina logo. (Nasri Sayegh)
Radio Karantina logo. (Nasri Sayegh)

From the confinement of his room in Beirut, Lebanese DJ Nasri Sayegh is sharing his special music mixes through online Radio Karantina, which he set up to bring some joy to the millions of people on lockdown across the globe and encourage them to stay at home and stay safe.

“From Beirut to the world and vice-versa Radio Karantina is a project that conjures together music, stories and images from quarantine during the exceptional times the world is currently witnessing,” Sayegh said.

“It is something to listen and dance to in the comfort of our homes. The practice of self-isolating is a test of our times, when walls, streets and towns await life anew. In this waiting room, Radio Karantina may perhaps be a space where a harmonious voyage outside the confines of our walls can happen,” he said.

Radio Karantina first began transmission on March 15, mixing music with film excerpts, video clips and words from Marguerite Duras and Delphine Seyrig and other sound sources such as Lebanese jingles.

“I went online on the first day of total lockdown in Lebanon. Since I am a DJ, I thought why not share some of my music with relatives and friends whom I am not able to welcome at home. It was like opening a window to spread music to the people I love,” Sayegh said.

 The enthusiastic engagement with Radio Karantina rapidly grew.

“It was a hit,” Sayegh said. “First I thought I would share daily mixes from myself, but the day after I was happily hijacked by friends and people who wanted to share their own music, intimate playlists and podcasts from wherever they are in the world.”

The material uploaded on Instagram, Facebook and Sound Cloud is being curated by Sayegh as well as music lovers confined in Beirut, Berlin, Baltimore and Montreal, among others. The radio also brought together musicians, artists and individuals who are currently at home in self-isolation.

On day two of broadcasting, Beirut-born Jessika Khazrik hosted the radio’s second set from Berlin, as Mahmoud Merjan did from Beirut on day four and Rayya Badran on day seven, as well as Ghassan Salhab on day eight.

“We’re expecting some sets from Canada, the US, France, and Palestine in the coming days,” said Sayegh.

“It (Radio Karantina) has created a virtual community where people are happy to listen to music. I have so many requests on the Instagram page from people in Yemen who want to hear old vintage sounds from Yemen. I also have requests from Tehran, Istanbul, Palestine et cetera… It is just great.”

The only criteria to host a set is the genuine enjoyment of working on the mix that someone wants to share via Radio Karantina, which is open to all genres of music, including electronic sets, kitsch, classical, jazz, ambient and eerie.

However, Radio Karantina is not meant for mere entertainment, Sayegh explained.

“It is rather aimed to encourage people to continue to create while sitting at home, to think and meditate because what’s happening today is terrible, and it is an opportunity to slow down and to rethink our whole humanity, post isolation, and I hope we don’t simply go back to our old ‘normal’ lives.”

The radio’s main purpose is to invite people to stay home, for the good of all, and it has two main mottos: “Stay safe and play sounds” and “Stay safe and stay tuned.”

Love letters from isolation mixed with music are being transmitted and artists are also sharing what they are creating in confinement.

“It is a beautiful link that is being created among people. Some have been sending videos of themselves dancing on the balcony with their neighbours across the street doing the same or working at home.

“Music has always been an integral part of society, whether through ritualistic communal practices, times of joy and sorrow or as a means of expression,” Sayegh said.

The difference with regular radio is that one can rewind and re-listen to favourite mixes, which are tailor-made in confinement. “It is online and you can pick and choose what sound track you want to listen to whenever you want to,” Sayegh added.

Radio Campus in the French city of Tours also hosted Radio Karantina’s multiple sets on air.

Listeners can tune in daily on the Radio Karantina Soundcloud page, as well as via Facebook and Instagram under the same handle.

Find Radio Karantina on: