Semantic Saturation Featured on Noah’s Arkhive

Noah, my neighbor is studying journalism, he wanted to interview me last week and write a piece about me and Semantic Saturation on his blog.

Thank you Noah, I wish you the best of luck in your studies; and after reading the article you wrote I can already tell you are on the right track.

 

Shant Hagopian, syrian rock superstar!

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 5.35.18 PMMy father introduced me to Shant’s album last summer, and it was within the first five minutes of listening to “Solipsistic,” his latest album, that I knew that this guy had something special. On election day, I was lucky to get a hold of him, as he happened to be standing behind me in line; generously, he agreed to an interview

“He’s obsessed with Pink Floyd,” told me Shant Hagopian’s wife as I noticed a painting made out of guitar picks of the legendary guitarist David Gilmour of the band “Pink Floyd.” My walk here from home was under 1 minute, I live across the street. As I sat on the couch and asked his wife, Nanor, a few questions, she served me a glass of water. After a few minutes of finding out about how they met and what their first date paintballing was like, Shant came upstairs from his hard work looking exactly like what you would think a metal guitarist would look like. From the long hair and scruffy beard to the casual t-shirt and jeans, this guy says rock’n’roll from head to toe. We had a small chat about his life and career as a musician.

It all started because of bands like Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and Pink Floyd that Shant got into the rock world and began playing guitar at the age of 15 later going to music school.

“Nobody told me I was going to freeze my ass up here,” Shant explains. Born in Syria, he first created the band named “Nu.Clear.Dawn” in his youth while studying music. The band became popular in Syria after doing many cover shows, and a few years later for being the first metal band in Syria to release an album, but it did not come easy. “It’s a lot easier to build a house in Canada than it is to play a rock concert back in Syria, it’s almost impossible to release a rock album”IMG_7979s

But they did it, and the band grew and gained more and more recognition. Unfortunately Shant felt conflicted with the fact that there was no way the band could really take off from Syria. So he moved to Canada, one of the safest and most peaceful countries in the world. Honestly, who could blame him after all the conflicts, wars and explosions in the Middle East. “I consider myself very lucky for moving out of Syria before the revolution started which eventually led to the current horrible situation.”

But while Shant moved to Montreal, his other band mates fled Syria to move to different parts of the world. Shant used the incredible technology of today’s world to create his album through the Internet. He would write the songs, write down how he wanted them to be and then he would send them to different musicians around the world to add their touch and combine their talent creating an incredible piece of art. In 2013 the band he named “Semantic Saturation,” released the album “Solipsistic.”

“Semantic Saturation” and “Solipsistic”, two names I found extremely fascinating after he explained to me what they meant. “Semantic Saturation”, was the term used to describe the moment when you say a word over and over until it begins to lose meaning and starts being funny. The choice of the album name was a reflection of how the media causes us to become desensitized to the events revolving around us. Considering all the shocking things happening in Syria it’s easy to see why he would pick the name. “Solipsistic” on the other hand is the theory in which only you exist and everything and everybody around you is an illusion created simply for you. He chose the name, because it reflected the way he worked, he was reaching out to all these people through the Internet and it felt as though he was the only real person in his music-making world.

Look at the album artwork and you’ll see a girl representing “the listener” facing a metropolis of fake buildings, facades are what you see and with incredible detail you’ll notice some construction workers building everything for no one but her . Open up the CD pack and you get a 360 view of this “false reality” the girl is seeing.

After reading the reviews of the album it seems as though the album was quite a success especially since I did not notice a single trace of negative criticism. Getting to know Shant was great and I could truly say that this guy is the definition of cool.His laidback attitude and the detailed description of his life allowed for the opportunity to see how much he must have worked hard for what he’s accomplished.

If you want to get to know Shant Hagopian a little better you can either follow him on bandcamp, or you could check out his latest video on YouTube, believe me you won’t regret it. (Links Down Below)

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 5.34.52 PM

Www.Facebook.com/semanticsaturation

Http://semanticsaturation.bandcamp.com

www.semanticsaturation.com

 

Source: https://noahsarkhive.wordpress.com/2015/11/15/shant-hagopian-syrian-rock-superstar/

Interview on Robex Lundgren blog

I did an interview recently on the Swedish metal blog of Robex Lundgren.

Here’s the full interview:

What´s the name of your band?
Semantic Saturation

What made you call the band “Semantic Saturation”?
Semantic Saturation also known as ‘Semantic Satiation’ is a psychological phenomenon where repetition causes a word or phrase to lose its meaning temporarily; words are then processed in the mind as meaningless sounds. The idea is much deeper than that, and it doesn’t just stop there. Even though unapparent, but our brains are being saturated on a daily basis, and fed by multiple sources, they may look slow but the effects are the same on the long run.

How was the band formed?
Derek is an inspiration, being a Dream Theater fan since 1995 “A Change of Seasons” was the first album I had, and up till now it’s still my favorite track (let’s call it a long track). Andy Kuntz is the most amazing, down to earth, very supportive and friendly musician I have ever met, add to that his amazing voice and the writing and producing talents he has. As for Virgil and Ric, it was natural to have them on the album. Derek Virgil and Ric worked together before with Planet X, they are simply virtuosos, they are all top of the line musicians, they are world class progressive rock gurus, and how can you go wrong? Virgil was even one of the seven drummers who were auditioned to be the next Dream Theater drummer after Mike Portnoy left the band. DT picked Mangini, their loss is my gain.

Where are all band members from?/Who does what in the band?
Keyboardist Derek Sherinian, drummer Virgil Donati and bassist Ric Fierabracci are long time pals since they all played together with Planet X. Andy Kuntz is the vocalist and front-man of the German prog metal band Vanden Plas. And I’m the founder of Semantic Saturation, former guitarist of prog/power metal band Nu.Clear.Dawn from Syria.

Could you explain your music to someone that haven’t heard you?
I think editors and writers have framed this aspect at best, so I’m just going to quote some of them:

“A work of mind-blowing complexity and technical proficiency, a dizzying lap of musical labyrinth, pleasingly nerdy, dazzlingly proficient record.” -Grant Moon, Prog Magazine (May 29, 2013)

“Solipsistic is an amazing piece of art. It’s a journey of musical emotions that reaches amazing heights.” -Joel Rittberg, Danger Dog Music Reviews (July 29, 2013)

“I can verify right now that ‘Solipsistic’ is the epitome of progressive rock/metal. The album is boundless, and will forever stand the test time. Absolutely brilliant and well worth the wait. Do not let this one slip by.”- Ken, Inhale The Heavy (Jan 30, 2013)

“The music will come to you and slap you hard in the face, a sweet punishment, painfully delicious. Music that goes beyond magic and reality, a prog-fairy-tale. Passion, wisdom, crazy theory… Solipsism.” -Rocio Flores Bedoya, Lady Obscure (Jan 29, 2013)

“This is intelligent music, cleverly put together to make melodies that glue to your brain and makes you air-guitar like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” – Jonathan Payeur, Prog Archives (March 21, 2013)

Where was your first gig?/Where was the latest gig?
Semantic Saturation remains as a studio project for the moment. The anatomy and nature of this project doesn’t allow me to organize and perform live shows since all the members involved in this project are extremely busy with their own bands, touring or writing and recording new music.

Who writes your songs?/ who writes the music who writes lyrics?
As you may know, the debut album Solipsistic is mostly instrumental, except for the last piece “What if We All Stop” which has Andy Kuntz on vocals. The music is mainly written, arranged and produced by myself, except a couple of tracks were produced by Derek and Andy. The lyrics for “What if We All Stop” were written by me and Andy. Andy also helped me arrange the music for the same track to accommodate the vocal lines.

What’s good/bad with the band?/What genre do you feel you are?
I don’t think there’s anything bad with the band, and lots of good things, starting with the musicianship and ending with the music. Semantic Saturation is a progressive rock/metal.

Have you made any albums?/If yes what are they?
The debut album is Solipsistic, consisting of eight instrumental pieces and one song with vocals. Total length of 51 minutes.

Do you have any clips on YouTube?
No official music videos yet, but there’s one promotional video for Stardust, the fourth track from the album.

How old are you?/What got you started in music?
I’m 34. I’d say Pink Floyd and Dream Theater are the main bands that got me into playing music and becoming a musician. Ironically, as a child I wasn’t interested in music that much until my teenage years, when I started listening to rock and metal, I discovered Pink Floyd through my friends and then a couple of years later when I started listening to heavier music I discovered Dream Theater.

At what age did you start playing?
I was about 15 years old when I picked up a classical nylon string guitar, later on I joined a music school for jazz guitar studies, and graduated in 2003.

What year was the band started?
Work on the debut album Solipsistic started late 2010, and took almost 2 years to complete.

Witch band is the best you´ve seen?
If you’re referring to the best band I’ve seen live on stage, I’ll answer as what was the best show or performance instead of band. I think one of the best and unforgettable experiences I’ve had was one of the Porcupine Tree shows I’ve seen, the place was small and intimate, the sound was amazing, the track-list was amazing and the band’s performance was best. Another experience would be Roger Waters’ latest The Wall tour. That is historical.

What are the plans for the rest of the year?
I’m currently planning to put together a music video with some friends. Whether this will be 100% possible or not I am not sure as of yet. Later in 2014 there are plans to start work on the next masterpiece.

Is it easier to get your inspiration from older bands or from bands more modern?
Probably a mix of both, older bands are the schools, but modern bands give you the energy and latest hype.

What are your sources of inspiration?
Like I mentioned, Pink Floyd and Dream Theater are a big influence and inspiration but sometimes it could be a book I’m reading, a movie, or even an article on the web.

What’s the first step when making a new song?
Writing a catchy theme. That’s the basis of my music writing process, if the theme is not memorable; as complicated as it may be, it will not stick in the listener’s head. In fact the simpler the theme, the more catchy and memorable it will be. I have said this many times before and I will keep saying it: Music is art, not a competition.

How do you feel about the downloading of music instead of buying albums?
Downloading is fine as long as the artist is profiting from it. I think the real music fan will go ahead and purchase the album even if they have downloaded it for free. In this age of the internet it’s almost impossible to stop what’s happening, but it’s possible to adapt.

Besides your own music, what genres and bands do you listen to?
I listen mainly to prog bands, Porcupine Tree, Pink Floyd, Rush, Dream Theater, Ayreon, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Pain of Salvation the list is pretty much endless. But also who doesn’t enjoy some blues or jazz by the fire with some alcohol?

When you are on stage, what do you fear most then?
I haven’t played on stage for a while, but when I did the most I feared was having technical problems, and not giving what the audience is there for.

Have you been in any other bands?
I’m the former guitarist of Nu.Clear.Dawn, the prog metal band from Syria. The band toured and played a lot of shows in the region including one giant metal festival in Istanbul, Turkey back in 2004 among big names like Pain of Salvation, Epica, Vanden Plas, UDO, Amon Amarth, right after releasing the full length studio album “Poem of a Knight” which was officially the first metal album released in Syria.

What would you do if there was no music?
That would’ve been very depressing. Why would we live then?

How important are your fans?
Absolutely the most important. In the end, they are the engine; they are who I make music for.

How often do you rehearse? Where do you rehearse?
Not much lately, since I’m pretty busy promoting the album, as you know I pretty much try to do everything myself. I usually play/record in my humble home studio, which I am planning to expand and convert to a cozier and an even more professional guitarist corner.

Name 2 of your own songs you like at the moment? Stardust and… Believe me the second one is harder to choose, but I think Ambivalence, the opening track is the one. It portrays my personality very well.

What drives a band that isn’t all that famous and renowned to try to make a living on their music and to keep playing? The devoted fans and my love for the genre.

Do you have any webpages?

The official website is www.semanticsaturation.com
And the facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SemanticSaturation
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/SemanticSaturation
and Twitter: https://twitter.com/SemanticSat

How do you view the music industry today?
With the internet, smaller and new starting bands have a lot more chances to get heard today versus how things worked back before the internet existed. It’s not the guys in suits who pick the bands we want to listen to anymore, it’s the fans who choose. Artists and musicians today can also make more money instead of having a small percentage of the profit share, providing they do things the right away, and that starts with their music.

Do you have anything to add?
I’d like to thank you for your interest in Semantic Saturation and thank you for the interview and opportunity to have more people listen to the music we have made. Rock on!

Source: http://ghgumman.blogg.se/2014/march/interview-with-semantic-saturation.html

Q&A With Me

Earlier last week I asked everyone to post any questions they have for me, and I promised to answer as much as I can. So I made the video below with all the answers for you guys.

A Couple of Questions I Missed

Ken, my friend from Inhale The Heavy; I apologize. Apparently I missed the question you posted on my blog, due to the high level of spam comments I get on the blog (very frustrating). But I will answer your question right here right now.

Hey Shant, It’s Ken from Inhale the Heavy. I’m a huge fan of your work and a your band Semantic Saturation. I was wondering if there will be a follow up to the debut, ‘Solipsistic’, and are you currently working on any other projects.?
Thanks,
Ken {- -}\m/

There will definitely be a follow up, with the same musicians? perhaps not. I’m not yet working on any new material, cause we currently have plans a to make a music video for one of the tracks from Solipsistic (can’t say which one yet). I will start writing new material after the video release, and hopefully get these brilliant musicians I have in mind to feature on my next work.

Sylvain Rodrigue asked on Facebook: I have a good idea, but what is the meaning of Semantic’s album cover?

Sylvain, sorry couldn’t include the answer in the video.
Well the cover pretty much represents Solipsism, the girl is in a delusional city, where everything looks real from her point of view, but from our point of view we can see all the people working on making the city and her surroundings as real and believable as it can be. The artist Saad Fanari who designed all the artwork on the Digipak has paid attention to every little detail to complete the story and make it comprehensible, so I will not reveal everything and spoil the fun for you. (Hint: The unfolded artwork is continuous)

And below are my Axe-FX settings for the lead guitar I used on Solipsistic, I named it Crunchy Lead:

Layout
Layout
Pitch
Pitch
Drive
Drive
Amp
Amp
Cabinets
Cabinets
Graphic EQ
Graphic EQ
Delay
Delay
Reverb
Reverb
Enhancer
Enhancer

Ask Me Almost Anything

I always keep asking questions on the Facebook page. But I thought why not have you ask any questions you have this time, and I’ll try to post a video response with all the answers later this week. Think of it as a personal interview with me.

Ask away!

Interview on LadyObscure.com

I had the honor to be interviewed by the lady herself on LadyObscure.com
Here’s the full interview, enjoy.

Hey folks!

Today, I am with the brilliant Shant Hagopian, the mastermind behind the Semantic Saturation project. I’m confident you will enjoy this candid chat with this very lovable and brilliant man as much as I did.

Lady Obscure: Hello Shant, thank you for taking the time for the Lady Obscure Music Magazine!

Shant Hagopian: Hi Nem, I have to be the one thanking you for your time, I know you’ve been pretty busy lately.

Lady Obscure: Oh, that’s very kind of you! Well, let’s start by talking about Shant Hagopian then, the man himself. I know you lived in Syria until seven-eight years ago, I know you had Nu.Clear.Dawn, if I’m not mistaken the first metal band with an album out of Syria in 2003 and I love about your love of Pink Floyd, how Comfortably Numb was your first favourite progressive song. But, if you please, I’d like to hear about reasons, motivations, drives… Did you know, for instance, as a teenager that making music would be the centre of your life? What made you decide to move to Canada?

Shant Hagopian: Ironically as a kid I was never interested in music, perhaps it was the local music that hadn’t appealed to me, but at some point after I’ve discovered my love for rock and metal, I’ve found some metalhead friends who played in local bands, everybody loved to play covers over there, and actually that’s how Nu.Clear.Dawn started. But when I first decided to pick up a guitar, I taught myself to strum some chords and play some lines, and started playing (or trying to play) along my favourite tracks on my own, some Pink Floyd, Metallica etc… But later I came to a conclusion that I have to attend a music school to learn the instrument the proper way if I wanted to start a band too, there was only one credible music school in town that I found through some friends, they didn’t teach rock guitar but jazz guitar was good enough for me. At the music school I’ve met more friends who were also like me; wanted to start their musical life the right way. So all these things motivated me and actually helped start a band, in fact one of the people I met at school was Ali Mearrawi with whom we formed Nu.Clear.Dawn, and after playing a few cover shows I was a complete addict, music was all around me.

Moving to Canada was a very hard decision for me to make, I had actually planned long ago to leave the country sooner or later, not because it was a bad place to live in, but it was inevitable if I wanted to continue with my musical life. There were a few problems, or let’s say obstacles that faced us rock/metal musicians wherever we turned, one of them were the authorities, who tagged every metal-head with the “Satanist” title, funny thing is these people in higher places had inherited this idea from problems in neighbour countries. In Lebanon; they found some metal tapes in a kid’s room who had committed suicide because of problems in the family, but they decided to blame the music genre instead. And there were some other rumours from Egypt as well, something to do with worshipping mr. Satan. Anywho! The other obstacle was the metal scene in Syria, back in the day it was very young and the media (radio/TV/magazine) did not cover any news; local or international, so we actually ordered magazines to people who were returning back to Syria, but it specifically hurt us as musicians later with Nu.Clear.Dawn because the media didn’t care.

Lady Obscure: Oh, I hear you Shant. Unfortunately that was the case in a lot of places. So sad… You came to Turkey in 2004 with Nu.Clear.Dawn and again if I’m not mistaken, you met Andy Kuntz there. Is this how the story began, so to speak? I mean, is that where you started laying the foundations for recruiting outstanding musicians for your project?

Shant Hagopian: Yes, I’ve met with Andy for the first time back then. We were in the hotel’s restaurant when Vanden Plas walked in, and that’s where we introduced ourselves and told them how big fans we were of their amazing music. At that point the only thing I was personally focusing on was Nu.Clear.Dawn, I was pretty much taking care of everything from rehearsal times to managing the website, contacting the press, booking gigs here and there, I didn’t have time to think about any side projects. It was a great opportunity and exposure for us at the time, we shared the stage with some of our idols and a lot of other big names like Pain of Salvation, Vanden Plas, UDO, Epica, Paul Dianno, Katatonia and even some extreme metal bands like Amon Amarth. 30 bands in total.

Lady Obscure: Did you like Istanbul?

Shant Hagopian: Beautiful city, a mix of the east and the west, a lot of tourists there and the scenery is great, people are very kind and the metal-heads were rocking. The first time I visited Istanbul was with my friend Saad Fanari who happens to be the cover and artwork designer of the Semantic Saturation album ‘Solipsistic’, the reason for my first trip was to finally attend a Dream Theater show after being a huge fan for 7-8 years. It was the trip of our lifetime. Returning to Istanbul a couple of years later to play was a dream come true.

Lady Obscure: Wow, you’ve just given me goose bumps! So, as far as I can tell, Nu.Clear.Dawn is on hold at the moment. Do you have plans to revive it? I understand you guys are physically not very close anymore but the same can be said for the musicians in Solipsistic as well…

Shant Hagopian: True. I’d love to do a new NCD record, but… there’s always a but. I honestly think it’s not going to happen anytime soon, if at all. I’ve asked the guys a few times after I moved away from Syria, every time I asked them they were excited and sounded like they really wanted to make it happen, but they never participated, or they did very little and then completely forgot about it, except (drummer) Aram Kalousdian; who was the only one who showed some enthusiasm, but later gave up all hope like myself on the rest of the guys. I wrote some demos for NCD and actually recorded some ideas with Aram, I created a folder on the internet for everyone to record their own ideas and drop their files in there for everyone else to download and add their own, the process was very slow because of the internet in Syria, and because of their access to it, or just because of personal reasons, it’s a mystery till today. Or they were probably being lazy fat-asses.

I’m a pretty enthusiastic person myself, if I plant an idea in my mind, I HAVE to do it as soon as possible without any delays, because if not; the excitement dies and the passion fades away.

Lady Obscure: Ah, it can only happen when everyone can commit, doesn’t it? Now, on to your fantastic album, Solipsistic… Virgil Donati photographed at Remo Recreational Center in North Hollywood on 08/19/10 and 08/20/10You are working with such outstanding musicians there! How did you get the rest of the team to join up with you? More importantly, how did it feel when they said yes?

Shant Hagopian: Working with these guys is very enjoyable, they are all very talented musicians and their responses were always very prompt. I am very lucky to have these virtuosos on the record. In early 2011 I have contacted Derek Sherinian to ask if he’d be interested in playing on the album, when I sent him an email with some early demos, he immediately asked for my phone number and called me to discuss the details, needless to say I was very surprised, and extremely excited to have one of the best prog keyboard players on the album. Derek is a great inspiration to me; his work with Dream Theater always amazed me, when he accepted to play on the record it was a dream come true. When I was almost done shaping the melodies with Derek, it was time for Virgil Donati and then Ric Fierabracci to come in. And I’ve met Andy again on my Euro trip in 2011, I had the demos with me, so we sat down together and listened to them, he really liked all the melodies and when I asked if he wanted to sing on a song or two he sounded very excited and the rest is history.

Andy is the most amazing, friendly and supportive musician I’ve ever met, I’ve said this and I’m going to keep saying it, the guy is so awesome and he did the impossible to support Nu.Clear.Dawn when we first met in Turkey, he thanked us on stage (we didn’t do anything) he added our name to the thank you list in his Abydos CD, I mean who does this?

As for the music creation process, it was very simple and effective, we communicated by email/skype/phone, I send them my tracks and then they add their input and send their recordings back to me, I listened to them, fell out of my chair, and then moved on to the next track, or if there needed to be some modification I’d just ask them and so on.

Lady Obscure: So, I know solipsism is something you’ve been interested in since – you were very young? How did you decide to tie the concept in with your debut solo project? How does it tie in with the concepts in the album? Did it have a significant effect on the compositions? I mean, I just want to understand how the concept interacts with the album from your standpoint, go wild, neither my nor my readers’ existence can be deterministically proven to you anyway 🙂

Shant Hagopian: Hahaha! Ok then, next question. 🙂

Lady Obscure: Hahaha!

Shant Hagopian: I have always thought about the idea as a teenager, I used to sit and wonder what was actually happening at the same time somewhere else on earth, did it really exist for everyone, or is it only there whenever I am. The idea fascinated me but I didn’t know it actually had a name, so when I learned what it is called I kept it in mind, and when it was time for me to find a title for my album I thought it was the one.

I can’t say it’s a concept album, none of the songs are actually related to each other, they all come from a philosophical point of view, that’s the only thing that ties them together, but they’re related with the album title, each on its own; It’s our existence, in space and time, our views and perceptions. I hope that was confusing enough! The other reason I went with the title ‘Solipsistic’ was because it was a solo project for me, which made me relate to my previous band Nu.Clear.Dawn.

Lady Obscure: The album was released at the end of January, barely more than a month ago, and positive reviews are raining, so to speak (one of which was by our Rocio, here). Were you expecting this? How does so much positive attention make you feel?

Shant Hagopian: Rocio’s review surprised me on so many levels! The way she reviewed the album was very unique and original to begin with, but it was the last paragraph that reached the climax in sending chills down my spine, where she described how bands overlook one very important aspect of prog, and music in general nowadays. I have posted an article on my blog just last week where I’m talking about this phenomenon; I had a draft of the article sitting on my drive weeks before she reviewed the album, and that is what exactly caught me by surprise. The fact that she completely understood my state of mind telepathically just blew me away.

I’m actually kind of surprised of all the positive feedback the album is receiving, and just this last Sunday I was surprised again to see my album cover featured as the Facebook cover page for
“Morow.com – The Prog Radio.” I wasn’t expecting that at all, I was already content that they’ve put my music in rotation on the most amazing prog internet radio, and now this! How awesome is that?! I’m very happy that two years of hard work and effort is paying off with such great recognition.

Lady Obscure: Glad to hear that! Rocio moved me profoundly with her review as well! Ok now, you know, some projects focus on studio efforts, some do live shows and some – in cases where the musicians involved are busy with their main projects or live half the world away – just put together a separate band to tour with maybe some of the project members playing with the band. Do you have anything like that planned? I would certainly love to see you perform in Istanbul again!

Shant Hagopian: Everybody keeps asking me the same question. As much as I’d love to tour with these amazing musicians, unfortunately there are no plans for the moment for any live performances. I have actually thought about hiring other artists like you suggested but finding musicians with the same capabilities as Derek, Virgil, Ric or Andy is actually the toughest part. The other possibility is touring alone and playing along backing tracks, but I’m not sure how will people react to that. Either way, touring or playing shows will be pretty hard for me, but trust me I wouldn’t miss a chance if the opportunity rises. For now I’m trying to categorize myself under those musicians who are focusing on their studio efforts.

Lady Obscure: You have your hand in a lot of things don’t you? Now, Semantic Saturation is independent meaning you are doing what a record label would be doing from recording to mixing and mastering, from advertisement to distribution… I heard you even did the album booklet for the Nu.Clear.Dawn album! Are you always like that? You know, hands-on with everything? Do you think it would change if you signed with a major label?

Shant Hagopian: I love doing it all by myself whenever I get the chance or have time to do it, after all that part is really fun to do for me, but also sometimes stressful and very time consuming. There are a lot of other (famous) musicians who do the same and they actually motivate me. Yes I actually designed the cover and artwork for the Nu.Clear.Dawn album, the website, and most of the concert posters, tickets, flyers etc… I even wanted to do the Solipsistic album cover myself but then I realized I had to actually focus on the music and I already had too much to do on my hands. That’s when my friend Saad Fanari came in, and he did an absolutely amazing job. But that didn’t stop me from diving in and having my part in the artwork creation, the album cover was actually an idea I had sketched and gave to Saad who magically transformed it and created this beautiful landscape of delusional city that spans over the entire digipak inside out. And as a bonus he added a lot of hidden easter-eggs and nuggets here and there something that I love searching for and finding on album covers or DVDs.

I wouldn’t decrease my contribution even if I sign with a label, small or major, at least the artistic side of it, the visuals and artwork, because they compose a big part of the project, the artwork for one is actually going to wrap all the work you did as a musician and present it to the listener visually.
I haven’t mixed the songs on Solipsistic myself even though I was thinking of doing it at some point but again I’m not a sound engineer and I don’t have enough experience to do the mixing and mastering myself. Friendly advice to all musicians out there: Never ever mix your own music. The main reason is because your mind will be “saturated” enough from over-hearing the same music to a point where your brain will only translate the parts it wants to hear, omitting any errors and weird sounds, not to mention the volume levels.
Solipsistic was mixed and mastered by Alex Argento who is also an amazing prog Keyboardist from Italy. Alex did a wonderful job; I’m extremely satisfied with the result.

Lady Obscure: Speaking of which, would you sign with a major label at all? Or do you prefer being independent?

Shant Hagopian: I don’t mind staying independent, what record companies have done in the past can now be done using the Internet; the tools are all out there for new starting musicians, you just need the time to find them, and a little bit of effort to understand and to use them. But just like the many eras in the music industry history, this is now the norm in a new era, and I believe I could do the same things these companies are going to offer me. Better yet, I won’t share a penny with someone who had nothing to do at all with the music I wrote, and I’ve heard a lot of horror stories from different bands; small and major. On the other hand, I wouldn’t mind being signed to a major label, and release myself partially from time consuming tasks and concentrate more on music, but only if the deal is acceptable on my terms.

Lady Obscure: So, what’s next? I hear you want to work with Anneke van Giersbergen in your next album. Have you other names in mind? It may be too early to ask, I understand that, but is there anything in the works for the next big thing?

Shant Hagopian: I’d love to have Anneke on my next project, I love her voice and her work with The Gathering and I love her solo albums even more. Actually I have asked her if she wanted to participate in Solipsistic but at the time she was very busy with her projects and she was preparing to go on a European tour with her band, so I’m hoping to have her on the next album. There are no other names yet, I’m concentrating on promoting Solipsistic for now which is taking a lot of my time. As for projects, I’m trying to put together a set of frames and create a music video for one of the songs on Solipsistic (can’t say which one yet) but I’m hoping it will happen.

Lady Obscure: So what is it that’s losing its meaning by repetition? 🙂

Shant Hagopian: Good question, I’d say everything. Remember how creative we were as kids, thinking outside the box and asking questions out of this world? But then we were brought in the giant bubble where everything is shaped down, including our minds and ideas. Our brains are being saturated on a daily basis, fed by multiple sources; on the news, in the paper, in people’s mouths; the effects may seem slow but are significant on the long run. We are being crowd controlled and we don’t even know it. We’re all busy consuming and boasting about the latest toy we bought, “be-the-first-or-be-nothing” mentality that is killing our motivations, our desires, and our creativity.

Lady Obscure: That’s one kick-ass answer! Thank you for this lovely chat Shant! Again, at the risk of semantic saturation, though this is not a word but a wish, I’d love to see you guys live!

Shant Hagopian: Thank you very much Nem. Cheers!

About the author
LadyObscure
I find bands and albums like me; obscure… I see that which others do not and make them obscure no more; I hear that which others do not and let people hear what I hear; I am the conduit through which the light of a million stars unleash to make the poor, incomplete human soul whole again in perpetual ecstasy… I am the music freak extraordinaire… I am obscure… and that’s Lady Obscure for you…

source: http://www.ladyobscure.com/portfolio/shant-hagopian-semantic-saturation/#!prettyPhoto