We have had the pleasure of interviewing the artist, and this has been the result.
Thanks for talking to us. Where are you currently? How did you start your day?
I’m grateful for this chat. At the moment, I’m kicking back in Yerevan, my cozy birthplace tucked away in the heart of Armenia’s majestic mountains. My usual wake-up call is the symphony of car horns outside, but today, I got to enjoy an unusually serene start to the day.
When did the idea of starting a musical project start to take shape? Has it always been something you wanted to do?
Sure, starting a music project was never really a premeditated choice for me. It more or less just fell into place on its own. Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had music in my life in some form. At some stage, I developed this vision, or perhaps it found me, and it’s been leading me on my artistic journey ever since. The interesting part is watching this vision grow and take on more complex shapes as I age. Yet, through its transformation, it remains a touchstone of truth for me. Reflecting on my past, it’s evident that creation has always been a part of me, and currently, this urge to create has found its expression through music under the name daao.
What are some of the key techniques behind your approach to producing your new album?
When it comes to producing a new album under the daao name, I wouldn’t say I adhere to any specific technique. Instead, the approach is guided by an overarching concept or the expression of something that can’t be captured by words alone. That’s when these sentiments morph into music. This music often becomes part of a collection, supplemented by short video narratives and designs. Over time, daao has evolved into a space where I explore, experiment, and learn, allowing me to shape the visuals and direction of these projects.
How much time do you tend to spend discovering new music?
I seem to constantly listen to music when I’m awake. So it’s not that I intentionally hunt for new music; I just listen to a lot of music, as most people do. Occasionally, during these listening sessions, I stumble upon pieces that resonate with me, regardless of their genre, and they end up in one of my randomly named folders.
What other artists are you interested in these days?
Musically, I’ve been diving deep into Tribe Called Quest or J Dilla, Erykah Badu, and the Soulquarians family. They have an abundance of fantastic music that takes a bit of digging to discover. I also listen to a lot of Isaac Hayes, Duke Pearson, The Juju Orchestra, Yussef Dayes, Mansur Brown, Alfa Mist, Kamaal Williams, Kamasi Washington, and many more.
As for artists whose personalities I admire, Tyler, the Creator, Kendrick Lamar, and Virgil Abloh are some of them. I’m also deeply interested in documentaries about Jean-Michel Basquiat and artists of his era. As I reflect on all these influences, it really starts to make sense why daao has evolved the way it has.
Can you tell us anything about your projects for 2023?
Over time, «daao» has become a pseudonym under which I do everything: I write music, perform, collaborate musically, design albums or singles for myself or for musicians I admire, direct short video stories, and write. The reason for this is simply my love for creating, working hard on various things, and accumulating them. So, my goal for 2023 is to engage in as many collaborations as possible. More specifically, I’ve designed a camera in collaboration with a local photo laboratory, and we’re producing a limited edition of 30 pieces. I also have an upcoming documentary to shoot, and several musical podcasts to play, and I plan to finally release a 2-track EP I wrote a year ago.
Can you tell us a little about your early musical experiences?
My first real brush with music started quite early on when I was attending a music school. It was pretty traditional, following a post-Soviet curriculum – not exactly a walk in the park, but it wasn’t all bad. This period introduced me to some timeless compositions by the likes of Claude Debussy, Aram Khachatryan, Erik Satie, Ennio Morricone, and Arno Babajanyan.
At the same time, my grandfather’s jazz mixtapes were my gateway to another fascinating realm of music. There was something unique about listening to jazz legends like Miles Davis and Charlie Parker – it added another layer to my understanding of music.
These experiences from my early years subtly molded my musical perspective, but it took around 10 years for me to fully recognize and appreciate their impact. That’s when, daao, came to life, channeling these influences and creating the music that resonates with me today.
How do you hope that your music influences or impacts your listeners?
When it comes to my music, I’ve got a few key ideas I’d love to share with my listeners, and hopefully, they’ll make a difference in some way. The first one is about authenticity – being true to yourself and honest with the people in your life. I truly believe that it’s a fundamental building block for any form of communication or relationship.
Next up is my belief in the power of collaboration. It’s an amazing form of interaction where people can create something beautiful and meaningful together. To me, it’s one of the purest forms of exchange that exists.
Lastly, I hold firm to the notion that our past is packed with potential. It’s not something to forget or ignore; instead, we should learn from it, appreciate it, and use it to navigate our future. That’s what I try to instill in my listeners through the creations of daao.
Do you feel that your sound has evolved over the years?
Definitely, my sound has transformed quite a bit over the years. It’s not just my music that has morphed and matured, but my appreciation of the world around me has also evolved. Everything from design, shapes, architecture, and fashion to everyday objects, all appears different to me now.
I wouldn’t necessarily use the term ‘evolved’ to describe this change, because it seems to suggest a linear path or an endpoint. But, in reality, it’s been more about expansion and diversification. Everything has become richer, more intricate, and definitely more captivating. So, yes, the sound of daao has indeed transformed, becoming a deeper reflection of my ever-evolving world.
How does your latest album differ from your previous projects, musically and thematically?
Reflecting on how my latest album, «HOME,» differs from my previous work requires me to delve into the album’s genesis and its thematic core. «HOME» is more than a collection of tracks; it’s an expression of a universal sentiment that I believe resonates deeply with our generation, especially from the perspective of my fellow Armenians. The struggles of COVID-19 combined with the distress of ongoing conflict in Armenia have created an intense cocktail of emotions. This shared experience has compelled our youth to confront realities from an incredibly raw perspective. We’ve had to shoulder the weight of cultural preservation, leading us to foster an attitude of resilience, accomplishment, and the will to shape our own path.
«HOME» seeks to explore the multifaceted nature of what ‘home’ signifies: the feelings it elicits, the physical space it occupies, and the process of creating and maintaining it. While I was traveling, I found myself wrestling with what ‘home’ truly means. Why do we find comfort in the familiar, and why does being away from it cause homesickness? More importantly, what happens if you suddenly lose that sense of home? That happened to me and, while it was terrifying, it also prompted a shift in my perspective.
I’ve come to see home as a journey: learning to walk, reveling in the journey, losing your way, and realizing that ‘home’ comprises all things at all times. It requires recognizing your smallness in the grand scheme of things, accepting it, and proceeding to build your own ‘home’ within that vastness – a place of comfort and contentment. However, struggle and acceptance are crucial in this process.
Therefore, «HOME» encapsulates a myriad of sounds, visuals, ideas, people, smells, and shapes, all infused with pure emotions and meticulously crafted throughout days of exploration. It’s about embracing the spirit of play, collaboration, and learning through discovery and passing these experiences on to the future generations that will journey through life.
In this context, my latest work primarily aims to champion the idea of collaboration, emphasizing that despite differences in our perceptions and feelings, we can always find common ground if we share similar objectives and inner struggles. While the theme of the album holds universal relevance, it carries a distinct resonance for the people of Armenia. In essence, «HOME» underscores the power of shared experience and common purpose – key elements that have significantly evolved in my creative journey as daao.
Do you feel consistency is important in creating music? Or is it ok to experiment with different styles and sounds?
Certainly, I’d say that the need for consistency in creating music is largely dependent on an artist’s current mindset and motivations. Looking back at my own journey with music under the daao name, there’ve been numerous evolutions. Initially, music was a means for me to find my footing and forge connections within my community. It morphed into a tool for self-discovery, giving me insights into my childhood and personal identity. After that, daao became a creative sandbox for me, a space where I could experiment freely and express myself without restrictions.
Today, however, after traversing through these ups and downs, these lefts and rights, I find myself gravitating towards a more defined style, something that might end up being a signature for daao. I’ve started to appreciate the idea of success and understand that consistency can play a significant role in achieving it. It’s not so much about confining myself to a single genre or style, but more about crafting a distinct musical identity that people associate with daao.
How do you see the next few years or your career panning out, in an ideal world?
In my perfect scenario, I’d be traveling around, playing a mix of dance and experimental music that takes listeners on a sonic adventure. I’d meet and work with tons of dedicated, creative people – artists, entrepreneurs, or just anyone with something unique to say.
I also dream of making a few hit tracks – tunes that are simple but have a replay value. I imagine celebrating my future albums with big events in my hometown, Yerevan, Armenia, just like I did with my first two albums. These festivals are part of the daao experience, and I can’t wait to see them grow. They’re all about bringing people together and celebrating the power of community.
What’s the most important piece of advice anyone’s given to you so far?
It was really simple advice but It makes sense in so many ways. The advice was “Have fun be honest daao”
Como Las Grecas
Hi, great to have you with us today! How are you and where are you chatting to us from right now?
Hey, thanks for having me, after my travels I came back to my hometown Yerevan. It’s a beautiful place tucked away in the majestic mountains of Armenia. I’m in full-on hardworking mode, currently, so it means I feel really good.
Can you give us a bit of background about your journey in music so far?
My early journey into the world of music began during my time at a music school. It was an experience that had its challenges, as it followed a post-Soviet curriculum. However, it opened my ears to some truly timeless compositions by talented artists like Claude Debussy, Aram Khachatryan, Erik Satie, Ennio Morricone, and Arno Babajanyan.
Simultaneously, my grandfather’s collection of jazz mixtapes became my portal into another captivating musical realm. Exploring the sounds of jazz legends like Miles Davis and Charlie Parker added a whole new dimension to my understanding of music.
These formative experiences subtly shaped my musical perspective, but it took nearly a decade for me to fully grasp and appreciate their profound impact. It was during this time that daao, my creative outlet, came to life. Drawing inspiration from these influences, I began creating music that resonates with me to this day.
Your latest album aims to bring people closer via collaboration – why is this an important theme for you?
Reflecting on the evolution of my latest album, «HOME,» compared to my previous works, it becomes apparent that it is more than just a musical collection. It embodies a universal sentiment that deeply resonates with our generation, particularly within the context of my fellow Armenians. The combined challenges of COVID-19 and the ongoing conflict in Armenia have intensified our emotions, presenting us with raw and unfiltered perspectives. As a result, we have shouldered the responsibility of preserving our culture and forged a resilient spirit driven by accomplishment and a determination to shape our own destinies.
«HOME» seeks to explore the multifaceted nature of what ‘home’ means. It encompasses the emotions it evokes, the physical space it occupies, and the process of its creation and maintenance. During my travels, I found myself contemplating the true essence of ‘home.’ Why do we find solace in familiar surroundings, and why does being away from it trigger a sense of homesickness? These questions took on a personal significance when I experienced a sudden loss of that feeling.
For me, ‘home’ has become a journey—a process of learning to walk, embracing the joys of exploration, encountering moments of disorientation, and ultimately realizing that ‘home’ encompasses all things at all times. It requires acknowledging our insignificance within the grand scheme of things, accepting it, and constructing our own ‘home’ within that vastness—a place of comfort and contentment. The journey necessitates grappling with challenges and embracing acceptance.
Thus, «HOME» captures an amalgamation of sounds, visuals, ideas, people, scents, and forms. These elements are infused with pure emotions and meticulously crafted during days of exploration. The album encourages the spirit of play, collaboration, and learning through discovery—a legacy to be passed on to future generations embarking on their own life journeys.
In this context, my latest work aims to champion the power of collaboration, emphasizing that despite differing perspectives and experiences, we can always find common ground if we share similar objectives and inner struggles. While the theme of «HOME» holds universal relevance, it carries a distinct resonance for the people of Armenia. Ultimately, the album celebrates the strength that arises from shared experiences and a collective purpose—an evolution that has significantly shaped my creative path as daao.
What does HOME mean to you? And how did you approach blending traditional sounds with jazz and electronica production?
While the «HOME» album may not overtly incorporate traditional Armenian music elements, its essence lies in the subconscious imprint of my roots. My experiences growing up in Yerevan, navigating its culture and rhythms, are deeply ingrained in my creative fabric. «HOME» is a modern interpretation of my cultural heritage and an intimate reflection of my personal journey. In essence, «HOME» is an integration of my Armenian heritage expressed not through traditional forms, but through a personalized contemporary lens. It embodies the spirit of my homeland, reflecting both my tangible experiences and the profound emotional undertones that come with belonging to a rich cultural tapestry such as ours.
I channel these influences and infuse them into my music, creating a unique blend of modern European electronic jazz with hints of my Armenian background. Through this fusion, I aim to evoke a sense of nostalgia and connection to the beauty and complexities of Yerevan. While the tracks on «HOME» may explore different styles and sounds, they all carry the underlying essence of my identity mixed with explorations I did as daao.
During the pandemic there was a lot of talk about what things people would like to change in the music industry. Now that things are getting back to normal, do you see any major changes?
As things gradually return to normal, I do see some major shifts taking place. One significant change is the mindset of creators. The challenging times we faced during the pandemic forced artists to adapt and find new ways to express themselves. Many musicians, including myself as daao, took the opportunity to focus on their craft and create without waiting for external validation or support.
This shift in mindset has led to a more independent and empowered approach to releasing and showcasing art. Artists are no longer solely relying on traditional channels such as labels or galleries to distribute their work. Instead, they are taking matters into their own hands, utilizing streaming platforms, social media, and other digital tools to directly connect with their audience.
This change in the creator’s mentality has also influenced the industry as a whole.
What’s on the cards for you for the rest of 2023?
Looking ahead to the rest of 2023, I have an exciting lineup of projects and collaborations in the works. As «daao,» I wear many creative hats, allowing me to explore different artistic endeavors. One of my upcoming ventures is a special collaboration with a local photo laboratory, where we have designed a limited-edition camera. We’re set to produce only 30 pieces of this unique camera, blending the realms of photography and art.
In addition to that, I have a captivating documentary on the horizon. This project will allow me to delve deeper into storytelling through visuals, capturing compelling narratives that resonate with audiences.
Furthermore, I have several musical podcasts in the pipeline. I also plan to release a 2-track EP.
Overall, the remainder of 2023 promises to be a vibrant and dynamic period for me as «daao.» I look forward to collaborating with talented individuals, pushing artistic boundaries, and continuing to create meaningful experiences through music, visuals, and storytelling.