Serj Tankian: Another EP + 24-Minute Piano Concerto Coming This Year
Serj Tankian was the latest guest on Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio program. There was a lot to discuss as System of a Down released two new songs last year in an effort to support the citizens of their home country, Armenia. The singer's Truth to Power documentary also showcased his career as an activist, using music as the vehicle for his message.
Also, Tankian will release the Elasticity solo EP on March 19 and he relayed that there's a lot more new music on the way by virtue of a follow-up EP as well as a 24-minute piano concerto.
Check out the full chat below.
The tracks on the EP are songs that you actually wrote for System of a Down. When you write music, what dictates how and where it will come to fruition?
I wouldn’t say that I wrote them for System of a Down. They came to me roughly about five years ago — different songs that had metal and a kind of punk attitude.
To me that made sense to collaborate with System on, and at the time we were talking about working together and doing a record and so we tried and tried to make things work, but ultimately, in short, we couldn’t philosophically and creatively agree on a way forward. So, I finished the songs myself.
Elasticity is a small sampling of songs from someone who seems to always be writing music. For you, what made the circumstances of the pandemic so conducive to creativity?
You mean staying home in your studio and having nowhere else to go? That’s pretty much conducive, as far as writing and I was able to finish a lot of music.
This one was already in the can, actually. I’ve had these songs for a while and they were mostly finished. But, I was able to finish another EP — more electro-rock songs, if you will... or not just electro but just a different mood and a bunch of cinematic tracks that we’re going to release this year, along with a 24-minute piano concerto that was a personal challenge.
Serj Tankian, "Elasticity" Music Video
There's already a broad awareness of your Armenian heritage and your political activism. What further insight did you want the Truth To Power documentary to reveal about you?
I’m not sure that I’m trying to reveal any particular thing that people don’t know about me or anything like that. What was interesting to me was highlighting an activist’s journey through music — which has kind of been my life for 20-25 years — from a point where your voice is very little, before having success and a band to be able to project it, and then it gets projected with that success, and then you see some of the fruits of your activism.
Then you also see some of the repercussions of being an artist and an activist at the same time. The film does a good job highlighting that.
Truth to Power — Official Trailer
System of a Down recently released new music for the first time in 15 years to benefit the Armenia fund. What aspect of your creativity and vocal technique tends to be specific to SOAD?
I don’t know, good question. I’m just really proud that we were able to galvanize with my brothers in System of a Down to get together at a time where our people needed our voice.
We were trying to fight the combined Azari/Turkish disinformation campaign and social media bots online while trying to tell the truth about what was going on to our people. So, we made the video for "Protect the Land" and "Genocidal Humanoidz" that we put out that basically talks about those things while at the same time doing fundraising for people that were displaced and soldiers that had lost limbs (to obtain prosthetics), etc.
System of a Down, "Protect the Land" Music Video
Your career has been wonderfully varying in terms of the projects and types of music that you've made. What is the single defining element that makes it all unique to you?
Wow. Now you got me stumped, Jackie! I’m not sure.
I guess it’s whatever your drive is as a human being. One of the things in me is always truthfulness. That truthfulness could be described as political or it could be described as an awareness of the beauty of the moment. It doesn’t have to be political.
Truth is also looking outside and seeing a beautiful day and going, "Wow, I’m so glad I’m living today."
Thanks to Serj Tankian for the interview. Get your copy of the 'Elasticity' EP here (as Amazon affiliates we earn on qualifying purchases) and follow the singer on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Spotify. Find out where you can hear Full Metal Jackie's weekend radio show here.
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