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Armen Bazarian is a Toronto-based musician.

Interview by Rebeccah Love

What creative activities did you engage in as a kid? When did you first develop an interest in music?

My first professional introduction to music was singing in the Toronto Children’s Chorus. I have always been drawn to the human voice. At a very young age, I remember being blown away by Bobby McFerrin’s Simple Pleasures, moved by Poppie Nongena’s South African gospel music, and hypnotized by Meredith Monk’s vocalizations in Turtle Dreams.

How long have you been working on The Wrong Side? How did this song come to be?

The Wrong Side was written in February 2019 - exactly one year ago. I was in Yerevan Armenia (having relocated there indefinitely) and got an invitation to my uncle’s country house in the mountains near a village called Bjni. I packed some minimal gear and headed out towards the white-capped peaks. Over the course of that week I would spend a few hours working on music, exploring nearby 13th century ruins, and even partook in a 3-day water-only fast. One afternoon, as The Wrong Side developed from scratch, I remember thinking to myself, "Wow, I think I'm in the middle of writing one of my best tracks!"

What's so striking to me about my little mountain residency is the fact that I could have just as easily not brought my gear to the cottage, and instead spent the week relaxing and enjoying the countryside. That experience made me realize how important it is to always be chipping away at your craft. You really never know when the "next best thing" is going to come out of you. It's more a matter of consistently showing up, hoping for the best, and not being discouraged if nothing of note comes out. Cliché to say, I know, but so very true in practice.

What themes do you see yourself exploring in this song?

I think I live too deeply within my thoughts. This can lead to a kind of spiralling out of control where I’m being pushed and pulled by different desires, opinions and negative thoughts, ultimately losing my sense of purpose and self. This song speaks to the sensation of “being in one's own head” and the unhealthy habits we use to numb out and turn off. Also, I like to dance?! This was all just an excuse to make a music video where I could dance around in my mom’s sticker factory ;)

What do Ancient Pastures mean to you?

While living in Armenia, you can't help but notice the depth of history and culture that permeates one's existence there. You are surrounded by a rich pallet from the past, from churches to ruins and biblical mountains. It makes for a breathtaking and aesthetic experience. On the other hand, the culture there feels stuck in many ways, and overly dependent on its past narratives. There's this idea that the burgeoning climate of open-mindedness, particularly in younger generations, is a threat to the moral fabric of an ancient culture such as Armenia's. Prejudices towards women and homosexuality are worn like badges by people who are unaccepting of the unknown, and find temporary comfort in their ancient and impenetrable roots. I felt this push and pull over the course of my time in Armenia, and I guess it expressed itself somewhat indirectly in the lyrics of this song.

Why is music important?

It just so happens that the medium through which I express myself is music. I can imagine a trajectory with a different web of variables that would have led to a completely different creative life. Personally, more than music in and of itself, I’m the most interested in the steadfast discipline and perseverance required to pursue any kind of artist practice. My creative practice fills me with a sense of purpose - a raison d’être, so to speak - its outcome being the songs I release under my artist moniker Bazarian.

What are you looking forward to?

I truly feel like I’m standing on the edge of a precipice, with a colourful array of creative endeavours ahead of me. New releases, new music videos, tours - it’s all in the making. I’m genuinely excited about the steady climb that has brought me here, and the path ahead.

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