Vahram Petrosyan: “Lilit Hovhannisyan and I might get married…”
Interview with composer Vahram Petrosyan.
“I can’t say who Lilit will get married to or when and the same goes for me. We have never denied the fact that we are dating, but we have never affirmed that we are dating either. We just say things to try to get around the questions. “Eritasard.am”’s readers will definitely find out about any changes in our relationship.” Composer Vahram Petrosyan will soon complete his post-graduate studies at the Yerevan Komitas State Conservatory and is currently working on a song (soundtrack) for a new soap opera. He says the song will be as successful as the songs for the soap operas “Veradardz” (Return) and “Kyanqi Gin” (The Price of Life). Vahram is also working on a new song for winner of Junior Eurovision Song Contest Vladimir Arzumanyan whose song “Mama” was also written by Vahram Petrosyan. The composer also has many orders from a number of singers preparing for contests and Armenians abroad. He has also composed a song to participate in the pre-electoral stage of the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest. “Whereas before I used to write serious, right and high-quality songs even for such contests, now I understand that there have to be as many unserious, “bad” songs in order for them to be successful because the society demands such songs,” says Vahram Petrosyan. “Eritasard.am”: Besides, as you say, unserious songs in demand, do you have more serious songs? Vahram Petrosyan: Yes, but I rarely write songs like that because I don’t like to waste my time following grand, meaningless ideas and not get feedback from my audience. I have composed a song for Lilit Hovhannisyan in which I am not just accompanying her on the piano, but have a solo for the piano. It is a song composed in the pentatonic and I am thinking about writing a ballad or a concerto for the symphonic orchestra based on that song. I’m also thinking about playing it with the State Youth Orchestra or the Artsakh Symphony. I am serious, but not much and don’t have a lot of serious songs. “Eritasard.am”: In one of your interviews a couple of years ago, you said though business is fine in Armenia and you have integrated into Armenian show business, you want to leave Armenia. Why are you still here and why did you decide to continue your education? V. P.: I continued my post-graduate education for a diploma and I still have plans to leave Armenia. I’ll need that diploma if I leave for abroad. In addition to all that, I simply realized that I miss playing and the richness and beauty of harmonies of classical music help me create. I am content with where I am now and what I’m doing. I like the environment, but if I were to choose another profession, I would choose to become a classical pianist because playing for 3 people who understand the right kind of music and hearing their applause is more precious and important to me than the applause from an audience in a stadium. “Eritasard.am”: But apparently you have many orders for songs. V. P.: The number of orders increases after a song becomes a hit. I have over 20 orders for the next two months and I can’t imagine how I’m going to manage it because it is simply impossible to compose a song in two to three days. I also have a period when I’m relatively calmer with few orders, but after one of my songs becomes a hit, people start thinking that I write good songs and start ordering. I know there will come a time and there will be new people who will compose better than me, but I’m not afraid of that at all. I know for a fact that I’ll be able to do something else, for instance, do business, go and bring products from Turkey and open a store (laughing). “Eritasard.am”: Are you conflictive or do you try to create some image for yourself that way? V. P.: I always say whatever I think and consider right. Recently, Beyonce gave an interview while eating chips and I consider that very normal. If you don’t want to, don’t watch. The television program creators can simply not invite me to their program. I don’t have formalities. I can talk literately, but prefer to talk how I talk in life and I assure you that that is not for PR. Just recently, I got into a dispute with a journalist during one of my concerts. During the concert, Artur Grigoryan asks me how long will I be writing similar songs and I say as long as there is a demand for that. Then, Grigoryan asks me why I always take clients’ taste into account. I answer that according to the facts, Mozart and Picasso also created masterpieces based on their clients’ taste. I add that though I don’t want to draw parallels, they were talented people of their time and I am a talented person of my time. I currently write most of the songs you hear today and when it comes to blaming, I dictate the taste. But when I try to compare myself to those who used to dictate taste, for some reason it can’t be done. After this, the journalist said “You are probably Modiliani”. Such comments are unpleasant, especially when they are not grounded. “Eritasard.am”: Fine, at the end of the day, does demand create supply or the opposite? Experienced singers criticize the low taste of music today, but alongside that, newcomers also talk about the low taste, even though they sing distasteful music. V. P.: I would say those experienced singers who dictate taste work with newcomers abroad and that cooperation leads to something good. Instead of criticizing, we can produce good, high-quality songs. There have been low-quality and distasteful songs in the past as well and are now forgotten, but the valuable ones have remained. The same goes for today’s songs. The high-quality songs will remain and there is nothing to worry about. As for the experienced singers who talk about getting rid of Arabic and Turkish gurgitations in Armenian songs, I must say that everything will sort out over time. “Eritasard.am”: Well, the Arabic and Turkish gurgitations are heard more in songs called “rabiz” which are played at restaurants and don’t really have anything to do with pop. V. P.: No, they are talking specifically about pop. I am sure those who talk don’t even go to restaurants. Hearing a song that can be the song for the most popular soap opera is a serious issue for them. But I must say that nobody really knows what pure Armenian music is. In one of her recent interviews, Shushan Petrosyan mentioned that Razmik Amyan’s song presented for Eurovision was not Armenian. Then, I sat down with Shushan and asked her to theoretically explain an Armenian song. Komitas’s songs are Armenian. But what is the difference between Komitas’s songs and my songs? Does it have to be written with the spirit of Komitas to be considered an Armenian song? Razmik Amyan’s song was written in the way that Komitas wrote many of his songs. To make a long story short, Shushan didn’t answer my question. On top of all this, why should a pop song written in 2010 not have Indian and Arabic sounds? After all, you don’t have to listen to it. I am simply suggesting. For instance, I always listen to what I want to listen with my earphones. “Eritasard.am”: What do you listen to? V. P.: I mainly listen to Stevie Wonder. There is a new singer by the name of Javier. I listen to classical music and that is what I am going to play for my final exam. I also listen to my songs and I not only listen to fix my flaws, but I like a lot of my songs and can listen to them over and over. I also like listening to other composers’ songs, especially if I have written the lyrics to them since I can surely say that many songs that weren’t hits turn into normal songs thanks to my lyrics. “Eritasard.am”: When you first came onto the Armenian music scene, you announced that there was no singer whom you would donate a song. Are there such singers now? V. P.: Yes, there are several close people and friends whom I always donate songs and one of them is Lilit. “Eritasard.am”: Is there anybody else besides Lilit Hovhannisyan? V. P.: Besides Lilit…(thinking), no, only Lilit. In general, it is right to not donate. Why should I give somebody a gift that costs 1,500 dollars? I don’t like to give very expensive presents. A couple of months ago one song cost 1,000 dollars, but I have raised the price for my songs in the past 3 months. “Eritasard.am”: Is it linked to the inflation? V. P.: No, the inflation has nothing to do with it. It’s just that my song won at Eurovision and I have the right to have my song be a little cheaper than the market price. “Eritasard.am”: There are many rumors about Armenian singers included in sects, including you. V. P.: I’m a Christian and I believe in God. I will be baptized at the St. Hovhannes Church on January 25. There are numerous groups which circulate some sums, but I’m far from them. But there are also many groupings that include the right Christians and whose theory is no different from what the Apostolic Church preaches. There is also the Evangelical Church which the Armenian Apostolic Church accepts as a sister church. If they are sects, then I am a sectarian. But I often go to the Armenian Apostolic Church and participate in the spiritual classes at the St. Hovhannes Church every Friday. I advise everyone to do whatever they feel like doing. Gallery: Vahram Petrosyan Ani Haroyan