Bounce Out of Your Seat!
Bring the infectious energy of Iraqis in Pajamas to your venue, for a passionate live music performance. Customize the event according to the interest and needs of your audience – requesting a harder or softer set list, and featuring some or all of the band’s Hebrew and Judeo-Arabic songs. If you’d like to add an inspirational workshop after the music performance, book a “Raw. Healing. Power.” program! Check out this performance of “Conformity,” to get a sense of the band’s musical style and performance energy. For additional videos, swing on by to Loolwa TV.
Basics and Bling
Iraqis in Pajamas is an original rock band in Seattle, WA, featuring a unique mashup of punk, indie, folk, and jazz styles, blended with ancient Iraqi Jewish songs and prayers. With singer/songwriter Loolwa Khazzoom on bass, Robbie Morshead on drums, Sean Sebastian on guitar, and Cali Hackmann on keyboard, band members have performed at local venues including Microsoft corporation, Paramount Theater, and a Seattle Supersonics game; have worked in various capacities with musical heavy-hitters like Bruce Springstein, Brendan O’Brien, and Mike Post; and have recorded music for numerous albums and movies, ranging from indie film The Forgotten Refugees to Hollywood hit The Polar Express.
Loolwa moved to Seattle in 2014, to be part of the Sephardic community. Within ten minutes of attending one of the two Sephardic synagogues, however, she was deeply offended by the sexism she witnessed – leading her to walk out. “What now?” she thought. Months later, close to the High Holy Days, Loolwa went to an open mic at Columbia City Theater and announced that since the Sephardic synagogues didn’t want her praying audibly, because she was a woman, she was bringing the prayers to that club. She then belted out the Iraqi selihoth. The crowd suddenly hushed, to the point that you could hear the proverbial pin drop, despite the audience typically talking through open mic performances. “Ah,” Loolwa thought, “I’m onto something.”
Meanwhile, after realizing that synagogue life in Seattle was a total bust for her, Loolwa began writing songs that expressed her struggles with Jewish family and community – combining her punk rock angst and original lyrics with the sacred Iraqi Jewish music she grew up singing. She effectively created a mobile synagogue of sorts, a vehicle for expressing her soul. And so, following two decades as a Jewish multicultural educator, through which Loolwa had passed down global Jewish heritage as it had been passed down for millennia, she began putting her own unique stamp on it.
What’s with the PJs?
After fleeing from Iraq as refugees in 1950, Loolwa’s family settled just outside Tel Aviv, Israel, in a town called Ramat Gan, which was almost entirely comprised of Iraqi Jewish refugees, for decades. Iraqi Jews historically have a reputation for immediately stripping out of their work clothes and lounging around in their pajamas, wherever possible. For this reason, when people asked Loolwa where she was living, and she answered Ramat Gan, they invariably replied, “Ah, Iraqim bepajamama (Iraqis in pajamas).” She thought it was hilarious. Not only that, but since Loolwa works from home, she can be found in her mismatched pajamas and fuzzy pink slippers, with her Jewfro hair sticking out in seven directions, at all hours of the day – thereby carrying on her ancestral tradition.
Book Iraqis in Pajamas for a performance at your venue!