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Interview: Serart

Questions Answered By Serj Tankian
March 10th, 2003
Interviewed by Brian Webb

Related Links:
Official Website
Serjical Strike Records Website

PRP: How would you describe Serart to someone who was unfamiliar even to the work of System Of A Down?
Serj: I guess its cross-genre, cross-cultural and so its many things but mostly it's a live spontaneous moment with two artists in the studio and some friends who contributed. Shavo (System Of A Down) actually DJ's for 2 or 3 tracks on the record.

PRP: With Serart being a substantially different outing from System Of A Down, do you worry that some people may not get it?
Serj: I generally don't spend my time worrying about anything, so no. This is not a commercial release for a System audience to behold. Its a completely different record so if someone is expecting System stuff, hang on and wait for another System record, but if on the other hand you're interested in very interesting music that goes to different places, then Serart is all over the place in a good way. It's important for me to define what it is. Serart is not a solo record because I have a lot of songs I could write for a solo record but that is not what this is. It's not even a side project, it's one moment in time with a very creative artist (Arto) that I wanted to work with. We just went into the studio, everything in the stream of conciseness was just done right there and then

Arto And Serj get creative PRP: By capturing the moment as you described and not entering the studio with any pre-conceived plan did you surprise yourself at all with the end result?
Serj: No because it's just trusting in the moment and whatever comes up saying o.k. that was what was meant to come out and not judging it and not thinking what someone else is going to think. It's not about perception but the reality of that moment and that is the only moment that exists and enjoying that and letting it go.

PRP: Arto is known for his eclecticism and open mindedness to all aspects of instrumentation, has writing and playing music in such an unhindered way left a lasting impression upon you?
Serj: Yeah. I'm having fun doing spontaneous artistic stuff. Actually this weekend I was at the Royce Hall, UCLA and I got on stage with Tabla Beat Science and a bunch of amazing artists and just creating on the spot and having some fun on a Saturday night, so yeah, I'm enjoying it.

PRP: What can we expect from the film you've compiled to the music of Serart.
Serj: The short film is a 12 and a half minute DVD component which will be packaged with the record and it's a really cool visual collage of the record mixed into 12 and a half minutes, of course not the whole record. There's parts of every song in there and sonically its a mix down of the whole record. It has some really cool visual images and we worked with a director guy named Madda Mato (sic) and he's done some great stuff and I'm enjoying watching it.

PRP: So With this Audio/Visual pairing that Serart is obviously suited for, do you have any plans to take this on the road?
Serj: For the minute we don't have any touring plans. We just want to put the album/DVD out and also play a short version of the DVD at film festivals and music festivals to promote Serart. We will probably one day get together and do a tour but that's not the plan right now and it will likely be one of those things where different artists that might be into Serart might want to call and say hey, if you guys ever do a tour I want to play drums on this one, or guitar or whatever. It will be an organic way of assembling rather than picking people to do the job of playing different instruments.

PRP: You've said before that the bands on Serjical Strike will be those that are original and don't sound like anyone else. Given the current climate of the music industry, do you worry this will still be a feasible idea considering you now have major label backing?
Serj: Um, at first I just wanted to make sure that I was able to have Serjical Strike Records independently of System Of A Down running at Columbia and I got that so I feel comfortable yeah. Serjical Strike is an indie running under the distribution of a major label. We have 4 albums coming out this year, none of which sounds like anything else or each other and Columbia has been very supportive in that effort.

PRP: Rumors have been circulating that you will be producing Slow Motion Reign's upcoming debut release. Is producing a role you would like to immerse yourself in more in the future?
Serj: Yes, Slow Motion Reign is a band I'm producing who will be going through Columbia and Serjical Strike. I've co-produced "Toxicity", I've co-produced Serart and I've learned a lot of hands on stuff and is really fun and I enjoy it. I like doing different things but I don't know if i'd ever do one thing exclusively. I'll produce a project here and there that I want to do. There's nothing in life I want to do full-time specifically. I want to do a bit of everything and learn and grow.

PRP: With Serart now seeing a release, what is the status on your side project with Petra Jolly?
Serj: The project that I did with Petra Jolly is something that we just did it in the studio, I wrote all the music and she did most of the vocals and lyrics and we never put it out and its something I'm not sure where I want to take it. It's not a fully completed project in any way for me to say I want to release it. I've written a lot of songs. Some with different people, most by myself. Hundreds and hundreds of songs. It depends what comes where. I'll always be doing projects and things will fit in to certain things.

PRP: You recently worked on a video for "Boom" with Michael Moore, a man outspoken for his political views. Being known for your views on politics as well, did you two run into any conflicting opinions and arguments?
Serj: It's hard to say you have the same ideological set-up as anyone but we didn't disagree with anything really. He's an amazing director, writer and person. The video comprises of a lot of footage taken on February 15th at the peace marches that took place around the world along with the band interviewing people with little DV cameras and asking them questions and such.

PRP: With System now having experienced a wealth of success, do you fear that the slight lull of downtime and other excursions will affect the momentum of the band?
Serj: No I don't feel that at all. Just the opposite. Sometimes if you work all day and don't have lunch you get burnt out at the end of the day. You got to take some lunch or take a walk and look at other things and kind of take your mind off it otherwise you'll have a long day and you'll be tired and not as productive as maybe you want to be.

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