INTERVIEW: Samuum

How have you been?    

Thank you! We’re happy about our release.

Can you talk to us more about your latest single Maria?

“Maria” is a special track, full of irony. It trolls the toxic traditions. 

The song is a story told by a girl. It lists out everything she has to face to be well regarded in the society she lives in, to seem “a nice girl”. She is calm about it, as something taken for granted. The listener becomes aware how tight the traditional boundaries for a girl in Armenia and in the Middle East may be. 

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?    

Lusine:  In the nation I belong to girls are often forced to make a choice: love and family versus your work of love. 

I’ve been through that as well. All of my feelings about that situation are here, on this record.

I don’t think it makes sense to speak of natural and full-fledged development of a person, as long as society drives the person into the boundaries with a choice like this.

What role does Armenia play in your music?

Armenia is my inspiration. I have a favorite place, at the exit from its capital, Yerevan. There are whole districts of incomplete buildings there, amidst the mountains. Those are houses people left when they fled the country at the times of war and crisis years. This place has a certain post-apocalyptic beauty to it at sunset. You look into empty unglazed windows – and you see mountains afar. Sometimes, I think the tragedy of Armenia is that it is too beautiful. People cannot cope with the beauty of the country and just leave. To where things are simpler, where there is less sacred things. Understanding the strength of Armenia, I always try to come visit – to get the charge. 

How do you go on blending both cultures into your music?

We were not calculating anything like: “10 per cent punk rock, 30 per cent ethnic and a verse as pop as possible” . Our process is non-conscious. We are just having our dialogue with the eternity. And we teach it to understand Armenian. 

I grew up listening to soul and jazz, Andranik listened to punk rock and noise rock. And now, we re-emerged with the “Armenian side” to each of us. This is the lively mix that comes out. 

How was the recording and writing process?

As usual, in the midst of working on a different track, Andranik brings the melody for “Maria”. I simply recorded the main hook using an old Shure SM58. We tried to record it cleaner afterwards, but it didn’t sound as cool, so we kept the very first dirty vocal take in the final version of the song. Spontaneity is our way. That is probably why we are Samuum. The samums (sand storms) in the deserts are sudden, they ruin everything in their way, and then they subside as suddenly as they emerge. 

How was the filming process and experience behind the video?

“There is only one place where you may not film” – that’s what our Armenian guide said when we were looking for locations before the filming. The place was located at the border with Azerbaijan, a “live fire zone”. You come across exploded vehicles along the road and shots are often fired in that area. That was the section in our path to finish fast and to forget about. 

But it turned out differently.

On the day of filming, the orange Mazda I looked for snooping around Yerevan to use it for shooting, broke down exactly at the dangerous part of the road. We thought that would put the end to the video, but the Mazda’s owner – an old lieutenant colonel – said: “Relax, I’ve spent 25 years in the army, nothing will happen, you may film” and started solving his crossword puzzles. We’ve somehow brought the car back to life and started driving it around, filming in one of the most dangerous places in Armenia. Three hours through the filming we heard gunshots, the lieutenant colonel grandpa listened closely and said: “Relax, those are distant shots, they won’t reach here”. Two more hours we were filming to a distant gunfire bursts.

What followed were three coolest filming days of my life: showers in the mountains, changing locations on the fly, and Mazda’s motor that exploded right before we got back to the capital, Yerevan. In a word – rad.

What made you guys want to go for a 70s psychedelic approach?

The very tradition of bridal kidnapping! That is totally surreal from the common sense point of view. With that in mind, I referred to some Sergei Parajanov, Alejandro Jodorowsy and Abbas Kiarostami. Some features of their surrealist movies helped “sharpen the edges” and show the whole madness of the tradition. 

And it was also late 60s – early 70s – the golden era of Armenian movies. So, the style of the video clip is also a tribute to those cool times. 

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material – how’s that coming along?

We’re just in process with the second single and a video for it. It will be a fast-paced track, with awesome live bass, hook and a change to 6/8. It’s the most popular time signature for Armenian festivities and dances. It will have a very peculiar sound – a mix of trance, noise and aggressive ethnic music.

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

We’ll be ready by September, if the planet is not dead to the virus by that time.

Any plans to hit the road?                                                   

Two videos in the autumn and an album. I can’t wait for it. It will give electric shocks. 

What else is happening next in ‘Samuum’ world?

We’re launching our clothing brand. It will share the name with the band – Samuum. In our first collection we’ll blend Middle Eastern traditional style and shapes typical for ravers’ outfits. Ideal desert party- or mountain acid dance-wear. The collection is practically ready and will be released before the second video.

WATCH HERE

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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