With the goal of taking listeners on a world tour of sorts, Intercontinental Concerts and founder Shahed Mohseni Zonoozi combine musical styles from around the globe to craft something with international flair that’s still accessible regardless of taste. Iranian-born Zonoozi’s latest release, The Journey, features songs in both Russian and Tajik Farsi, displaying inspiration nothing short of divine.

“In general, whenever I listen to a new song, I try to check the details and learn something from it,” he says. “There are always some points in the subject, the words, and their order in lyrics, type of instruments, melodies, arrangement, mix, and sound…. Even I sometimes learn [how] music never should sound like some tracks!” 

Because of the varied influences behind The Journey, we asked Zonoozi to create a mini-playlist of five songs that inspire him.

1. “Memories of You,” Sirvan Khosravi

Iranian pop artist

Well, based on my iTunes plays counter, I listened to this song over 716 times so far since it released in 2014! This is absolutely my most favorite song. Fantastic arrangement and performance together with a story that’s being narrated with very simple words but in an interesting order offered me a new point of view of presenting emotions through music.

Analyzing the vocal production, background sounds and the mix led me to some new ideas in production as well.

2. “Quantumising Myself,” Okan Ersan and Istanbul Superband

(Ersan is a Turkish Cypriot jazz fusion musician)

When I heard this music for the first time, I was in shock for a while, and by listening more and more and paying more attention to details — from melodies and arrangement to mixing and mastering — this track caused me to see music at completely another creative level. Various rhythms and melodies and the ethnic phrases and flavor are the most impressive to me.

3. “Luna,” Alessandro Safina

I heard this song in 2008 when I was so young and studying music. I took music composition and classic vocal courses, and Safina’s singing style [influences]…. I rehearsed for several years to be able to cover this song. The experience of singing in this genre as well as trying some other genres caused me to finally find my own right sound and style!

4. “Give It All You Got,” Chuck Mangione

The recording and mixing of this track are the most outstanding points to me. However, it’s an old record, [but] the clarity of sounds is awesome and even became a reference for me when I mix.

5. “All I See is You,” Dave Koz

I have a cool story of how this music affected my album’s journey!

I was in Istanbul and looking to buy good headphones for mixing. I went to a shop and asked for headphones. I was provided some models and a player to hear how they sounded. “All I See is You” by Dave Koz was playing and sounded really good. I was [entranced] by the music and completely forgot to compare the headphones. While the salesman was changing the tracks to explain his headphones’ sounds for various genres, I grabbed the player to turn back to that track and take a picture of the artwork to [find out] the artist and song name.

I bought the headphones and immediately left to find and buy the track through my computer at my hotel and listen more times. Two years later, I recorded and mixed the whole The Journey album with the same headphones!