Mosaic IV: A Celebration of Sound at The Ford Amphitheatre


The Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Association Western Region will stage its successful concert series Mosaic on October 17 at the Forth Amphitheatre. In its fourth iteration, Mosaic has become a staple of the Armenian community music scene. We caught up with Mosaic IV organizers Tamar Abkarian and Lori Tatoulian, who discussed the acts that will be featured at the concert, as well as some surprises in store for the community.

Tickets are $20, $35 and $50. Proceeds from the event will benefit Hamazkayin’s annual scholarship program. For sponsorship opportunities and ticket discounts for organizations and groups of 15 or more, please contact info@hamazkayin.net.
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Asbarez: What is Mosaic and how has it evolved to its fourth carnation?

Tamar Abkarian: Mosaic is an opportunity to promote and instill cultural appreciation through the integration of melodies, music, and lyrics from the past with revolutionized means of expression.  The objective of Hamazkayin’s Mosaic Concerts is to celebrate the diverse sounds of our culture and its progression today by introducing and promoting the broad range of musical talents of young Armenians.

For the past three years, the Mosaic Concerts have been able to introduce to the community the musical talents of our youth and their interest in their roots, as well as their fusion of the old and the new – something the community might otherwise not have known was taking place.

Asbarez: What sets Mosaic apart from other concert series?

Lori Tatoulian: Mosaic presents emerging armenian musicians that take armenian music and reinterpret it using current perspectives and trends.  This concert offers the community an eclectic array of genres all in one night.  The audience will enjoy alternative folk, jazz, trip-hop, classical and rock all fused with armenian sounds.  Mosaic performers are known to be excellent musicians at the cutting edge of musical creativity.

The past three Mosaic concerts not only introduced to the community the musical talents of our youth but also provided these up-and-coming artists the exposure that has already proven to benefit their future success.

T.A.: What also sets the Mosaic Concert apart from other concert series is the special thought given to hosts.  We avoid the typical hosts that are usually hosting most of the communities’ events by having individuals who are vibrant and who bring an extra flavor to the show.  The evening will be hosted by actress/ playwright, Lory Tatoulian, who with her comedic genius will have the audience laughing throughout the night as well as keep the program flowing.

Asbarez: How do you choose the artists?

T.A.: With a lot of research and thought!  The artists are chosen by genre and style of music.  The committee is a fairly young group of individuals who want to put together a program with local talents as well as talents from different parts of the United States and the world that has cohesion and contrast at the same time with a performance line up that will keep the interest of the young audience as well as some older audience who appreciate the various young talents, enjoy music and take pleasure in an event unique within the community.

In the previous years, we’ve had performers from the East Coast such as Zulal.  Last year we had Lavach, a very talented band from France! This year we are pleased to announce that for the first time we will be showcasing five of LA’s finest bands at the Mosaic IV Concert: Viza, Armenian Space Station, Echocell, A Splinter and Armenian Public Radio.

The ability to have all local bands indicates that our young Los Angeles based musical talents have progressed and successfully translated its intrinsic cultural surroundings into musical expressions.

Asbarez: Tell us a little about each of the performers?

L.T.: Go on a journey with global rockers, VIZA, who just recently returned from an international tour with Serj Tankian previously from System of a Down.

Experience Armenian Space Station’s epic compostions incorporating Khatchadourian stylings performed by Greg Hosharian on keyboard with the metal drum beats of Barrett Yeretsian

Feel the fusion of the organic with the electronic as Belinda Kazanci from ECHOCELL provides the cure for our soul hangover.

Reminisce with A SPLINTER as Ashot Tadevosian sings the humorous stories of our Armenian realities.

Enjoy ARMENIAN PUBLIC RADIO’s acoustic revival of Armenian folk melodies performed by Saro Koujakian, Ryan Demirjian and Mher Ajamian.

Asbarez: How does each performer bring to life Armenian culture?

L.T.: Each performer’s origin and experiences shape the music that they create.  This concert presents the mosaic of influences that inspire the current generation of armenian musicians and introduces the evolution of our armenian music and culture.

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Interview With Armenian Public Radio Members Mher Ajamian, Saro Koujakian and Ryan Demirjian

Asbarez: How did the group come together?

Mher Ajamian: I was inspired while I was producing a concert for Vicken Tarpinian last year.  So I contacted Saro. Being cousins, we had been a few bands together in the past ranging from rock to acoustic. It had been a while since he had left Element, and was ready to start up a new project.  Ryan and I had played together in another rock band, Sight of Sound, and I had always liked his style.  He worked well with us right from the get go.

Asbarez: What kind of music were each of you listening to growing up? What was the first concert you attended?

Saro Koujakian:
Guns and Roses, Pearl Jam.

Ryan Demirjian:
Metallica, Megadeath, Beatles.

M.A.: R.E.M., James Taylor, Tracy Chapman, Armenian Influences: Vicken Tarpinian (Hartar), Zulal, Haig Yazdjian, Datevik Hovanissyan.

Asbarez: Was there a certain “a ha!” moment when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

M.A.: Still waiting on it! I think we’d all be financially better off if we were able to cut music out of our life.

M.A.: Music is a passion for us and hopefully it will always remain that way I don’t think it imperative for it to become a career.

Asbarez:
Tell us about your creative process… What kind of environment do you have to be in to make music?

M.A.: You need good input to have good output. So if we want good Armenian music to come out, what better thing to put in than good Armenian food? I think we all enjoy the family atmosphere. Being an acoustic band we can practice pretty much anywhere, so it’s great to be able to practice at each other’s house and have the family around. The parents cook for us and it’s just a great casual atmosphere to work in.

Asbarez: How would you describe the sound of APR?

M.A.: 70’s American Folk, (i.e. Simon and Garfunkel) meets, 90’s Grunge Blues (i.e. Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains) meets Armenian Folk (i.e. Zulal, Vicken Tarpinian)

Asbarez: What can fans expect from a live APR show?

M.A.: We’re pretty mellow. We sing songs that have time-tested melodies, so everyone is going to love it. With us it’s about good musicianship and expressing ourselves.

Asbarez: Tell us about your first live performance as a band.

M.A.: Wasn’t too long ago, we closed out at “Siroun Storytellers” a storytelling event where different individuals get up and read a story from their own life experiences. The theme this time was their travels to Armenia. We played about six songs at the end of the night, the audience loved it.

Asbarez: Share with us your take on the current music scene.

M.A.: iTunes has really put the power of the business into the artists hand. So I think we’re going to see a lot of good artists emerge that will produce themselves. I think people can still appreciate quality, and as a band if you can produce it on a consistent basis, it’s not too hard to develop a following.

And now with Facebook and YouTube it’s so much easier to reach the masses. And because you don’t have the record companies taking a huge cut, you don’t have to sell nearly as much.I think a band like VIZA is a perfect example of a successful band of the future.

Asbarez: Do you have a dream city that you’d like to play in?

M.A.: Montreal or Lebanon for the good Middle Eastern food.
Asbarez: Is there one artist or group out there that would be your dream collaboration? Why?

M.A.: I think it would be great to have some feminine energy infused into the band. So, Zulal, because we love their style and because of their inspiration to us.

Asbarez: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about APR?

M.A.: Saro, the singer lives and works in Vegas. (He also likes to practice in his underwear when he can).
Asbarez: So, what is next for APR?

M.A.: Finish up recording our cd, hopefully by spring. And start playing shows, here, there and everywhere.

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Interview with Armenian Space Station

Asbarez: How did the group come together?

Barrett Yeretsian: Greg and I were writing music for TV, film and video games and we sort of stumbled upon the A.S.S. sound, unexpectedly.  My uncle introduced me to a guy from Armenia who heads a nonprofit there and he heard a demo of “Commence Primary Ignition” in my car and he flipped out, saying, “Armenia needs to hear this music!” Two weeks later, they booked our flights to Armenia and we played our first show there last October in front of 1,500 people.  Clint and Phil joined the group as soon as we got back to the US.

Asbarez: What kind of music were each of you listening to growing up?  What was the first concert you attended?

Greg Hosharian: Classical Composers – Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, Khachaturian, Rachmaninoff, Chopin as well as the Doors, Dream Theater, Rush, Metallica to name a few and Armenian music – I love just about every style of music!

B.Y.: Old school Metallica, Pantera, the Beatles,, Deftones, Ozomatli, Dream Theater, classical music, down tempo, almost everything!

Asbarez: Was there a certain “a ha!” moment when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

G.H.: I learned to play music as I learned to walk, since my father, Composer/Conductor Edward Hosharian, instilled in me the love of music at a very early age.  I always wanted to do what he did and how he made people feel with his music.  Two other “a ha” moments were when my brother Peter took me to my first Rush concert and when my friend David Mosikian introduced me to the Doors.  All of this contributed to my musical journey!

B.Y.: It was when I was at the Burning Man festival when I was 17. I walked into the middle of the desert with a hand drum and started jamming by myself.  Within minutes, 20 other drummers and fire dancers formed a circle around me and joined in …moments later, there were hundreds of people dancing, singing, throwing fire and just going crazy.  At that point, I truly felt the power of music, how it brought people and how inseparable it was from me.

Asbarez: Tell us about your creative process… What kind of environment do you have to be in to make music?

B.Y.: Greg and I are unique in that we are always writing.  When we get together, it is pretty effortless. We each come up with ideas on piano, guitar, bass or drums and just start jamming…a few hours later, we have a nine-minute song.
Asbarez: How would you describe the sound of Armenian Space Station?

B.Y.: Put simply:  Mozart meets old-school Metallica with an Armenian twist.
Asbarez: What can fans expect from a live Armenian Space Station show?

B.Y.: A lot of energy and a very unique experience…everyone who comes to our shows says that they have never heard or seen anything like it.

Asbarez: Tell us about your first live performance as a band. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?

G.H.: Our first performance was a sold-out show in Armenia in front of 1,500 people as a part of the Sunchild Festival, which was meant to raise awareness about environmental issues to young kids in Armenia.  It was surreal to debut in our homeland, something that we will forever cherish and never forget. Our second show was in front of a sold-out crowd at the Roxy in Hollywood…so not much has changed.

Asbarez: Share with us your take on the current music scene?

B.Y.: It’s a great time to be doing what we are doing.  There is so much change taking place in the music industry. We believe those artists who are unique and true to themselves will be the artists of the future.

Asbarez: Do you have a dream city that you’d like to play in?

B.Y.: Tokyo!

G.H.: Antarctica – on top of a glacier (or next to)
Asbarez: Is there one artist or group out there that would be your dream collaboration?

G.H.: Beethoven and the Doors!

B.Y.: The Beatles!

Asbarez: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Armenian Space Station?

B.Y.: The fact that we had no clue that the acronym spelled A.S.S. when we named the group!

Asbarez: So, what is next for Armenian Space Station?

G.H.: After the Mosaic show, we will be getting back in the studio to write and produce our next set of songs. You can expect us to push ourselves further in every direction.  The new songs will be crazier, heavier, more beautiful and more progressive all at the same time.

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