Light in Babylon

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Light in Babylon
Light in Babylon, Zurich, 2018
Light in Babylon, Zurich, 2018
Background information
OriginIstanbul, Turkey
GenresWorld music, Mediterranean
Years active2010–present
LabelsLight in Babylon
MembersMichal Elia Kamal
Julien Demarque
Metehan Çiftçi
Payam Ghasemi
Stuart Dickson

Light in Babylon is an international band that formed in 2010, consisting of singer Michal Elia Kamal (Hebrew: מיכל אליה קמל), guitarist Julien Demarque, and santurist Metehan Çiftçi. Since 2017, the band has been joined by bassist Payam Ghasemi, and drummer Stuart Dickson.


While traveling in the Balkans, singer Michal Elia Kamal, an Israeli of Iranian heritage, met French guitarist Julien Demarque. Searching together for a santur player to join them, Michal and Julien encountered Turkish santurist Metehan Çiftçi as he was busking in Istanbul. The trio formed initially out of a casual jamming arrangement, in which each spoke different languages but found common ground in music.[1][2]

The biblical story of the Tower of Babel inspired the band’s moniker, alluding to how the medium of music enabled the three members to play together despite initial difficulties in communicating.[3]

Light in Babylon played extensively on the Beyoğlu District’s Independence Avenue, a thoroughfare known for music performances of diverse genres and instrumentation. Light in Babylon performed on İstiklal Caddesi, through which it is estimated that three million pedestrians pass each day.[3]

Musical styles and influences[edit]

The band’s style has been described as going beyond strict delineations of language and culture, and as welcoming of all audiences. Accordingly, their music is listed to across numerous intersections of identity, nationality, and religion internationally. Genres that have influenced the band’s style include Turkish music, Balkan songs, Mizrahi music, gypsy traditions, classical and pop music.[4]

Songs are sung in various languages, combining Hebrew, Turkish, Farsi, and English.[5]



Year Album details
2010 Istanbul (demo)
  • Release date: 2010
  • Label: Light in Babylon
2012 Life Sometimes Doesn't Give You Space
  • Release date: 2012
  • Label: Light in Babylon
2016 Yeni Dunya
  • Release date: 2016
  • Label: Light in Babylon

Music Videos[edit]

Year Video details
2013 The Women of Teheran
  • Release date: September 28, 2013
  • Channel: TRT Haber
2015 Imagine
  • Release date: July 1, 2015
  • Director of Photography: Gültekin Tetik
2017 Ya Sahra
  • Release date: May 15, 2017
  • Co-producer: João Leitão
2018 Kipur
  • Release date: January 30, 2018
  • Director of Photography: Hasip Arvas


Year Video details
2013 İçimdeki Ses 8 Bölüm
  • Release date: May 26, 2013
  • Channel: İçimdeki Ses
2015 Canlı Performans TEDxReset
  • Release date: June 15, 2015
  • Channel: TEDx Talks
2015 Light in Babylon Documentary
  • Release date: August 4, 2015
  • Channel: ARTE
2020 Light in Babylon interview
  • Release date: April 4, 2020
  • Channel: AllatRa TV Russia


  1. ^ "Israeli-Iranian singer unites different cultures". The Jerusalem Post | Retrieved 2021-02-13.
  2. ^ "Sounds of the Sidewalk - Light in Babylon - - WOMEX". Retrieved 2021-02-13.
  3. ^ a b "World music from Istanbul: Light in Babylon: Ambassadors of peace -". - Dialogue with the Islamic World. Retrieved 2021-02-13.
  4. ^ "Looking for 'Light in Babylon': from Istanbul to Europe". euronews. 2017-09-06. Retrieved 2021-02-13.
  5. ^ kapernp (2017-03-16). "Die Frau mit der Löwenstimme". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)