Once best known as a punk band percussionist, Allami is renowned for his mastery oft he oud (Arabic lute). His 2011 debut album Resonance/Dissonance was a revalation, acclaimed by critics. He teaches ethnomusicology at the University of London.
Khyam Allami was born in 1981 into an Iraqi family in Damascus, later relocating to London, UK, when Khyam was nine years old. He learned the accordion and violin, as a child. In 1996 Allami became a drummer in the London based hardcore punk band Ursa, joining gothic punk/sludge metal band Art of Burning Water four years as bass guitarist and occasional vocalist.
In 2004 he made a complete break from punk and began to study the oud, Iraqi music, and Arabic music theory with London-based Iraqi maestro Ehsan Emam. Allami took an Ethnomusicology course at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), graduating in 2008 with a BA Honours degree. This led to a scholarship for a Masters degree in Music Performance, specialising in the Iraqi oud school and its antecedents. He has since taken up a teaching position at the SOAS.
Allami has developed numerous and varied performing and recording projects, from working with the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq to founding his own label, Nawa Recordings. He currently hosts an ongoing concert series in small venues in London, called "'Ud and Elsewhere", and is a member of the Alif Ensemble, which performed with Blur at the London Olympics opening ceremony.