Samuum and 10 Questions with TotalNtertainment. LA/Armenian-based art-rap collective Samuum are set to release their self-titled debut album in February 2021. We spoke to the band about the album, the inspiration behind the story, and how the success of System of A Down helped the popularity of Armenian music.
1. Before the album comes out next year, you have released a new single “Moranam”. Is the lyrical content on this track a good indication for the new album?
Samuum – For me personally, this is the last track on the album. So, when we complete the album and the whole story has been told, we have this track which is like the main tale. It’s all about the problems Middle Eastern women and females face in Middle Eastern society as is the rest of the album. From the very beginning to the very end you will discover how the energy is in that geographical area of the Middle East. People in that region are very aggressive not towards completing their life goals but they are just aggressive. Through the whole album, you will see everything though the point of view of the girl, of our main singer Lucine.
2. You’re described as an LA-based Armenian art-rock collective. Quite a cocktail of sounds. What can we expect musically from the album?
Samuum – It has a lot of different influences but what you can expect very noisy, beautiful vocals. A lot of aggressive live bass. Very punk rock. The overall feel of the music is like a cry in the desert. It will empty. It will be aggressive. It will be sandy. Like hearing the sound of the desert through your headphones. Influences? You will hear influences like a lot of Nine Inch Nails in there. A lot of Armenian ethnic music. A little bit of System of a Down.
Lucine – I am bringing still a lot of Armenian influences to my voice. I have lived in America for only four years. My vocals are more Armenian and more Ukranian. Even though I live in LA, I can’t make it American. I’m bringing my voice to the music. I brought here to LA my Armenian stories and I’m telling those stories even though I’m living here and trying to learn. It is more Armenian than American and you will even hear songs in the Armenian language.
3. Can you tell us about what inspired you Lucine?
Lucine – It will be the first time I think that a woman from this region will tell her story about the rules and the bloody problems from that area. The whole sound is built around the main idea of the album. It will be controversial, noisy, aggressive and as true as we can be.
4. Have the attitudes and cultures you’ve mentioned changed much in recent years?
Lucine – I think yes, but still it is pretty slow. We have our traditions, it’s pretty hard to change. We’re talking about our vision on the record and about the things we think have to change. We are not trying to produce hate though. We are trying to tell our story. I am trying to explain as a woman that I have a voice and I have a right to say something too so hear me out. I am trying to show Armenian girls that they should try it out too. They have power, they have energy, they should sing and talk about what they feel and not just cover it up. We’re trying to say to girls that it is okay to talk and it is okay to have feelings and talk about that stuff.
5. People have their own idea of what the Middle East is like from the news. What would you say to people about the region that might surprise them?
Samuum – In a good way? You will see a lot of open-minded people there. A lot of people are ready to change on the one hand but, on the other hand, there are people who are not ready to change. It’s very interesting how those kinds of people each live in their own area. There is the area that has the very intelligent, very progressive, very sophisticated people and there is the other area where the people are very into their traditions which act like anchors and hold us back from our development. If you go to Armenia you will see a very strange country with people who are very fast in their development and also people who do not want to develop at all.
6. Let’s talk about music for a bit. Who are your main influences and favourite bands?p
Samuum – For me it is the Mars Volta. System of a Down of course. One of my favourite bands is Fugazi.
Lucine – I grew up with Church music, Armenian Gospel. It doesn’t sound like American gospel, it’s totally different and you can hear it in the songs. There is a lot of traditional Armenian sounds. Also Massive Attack. So, a weird combination but yes, I would say they are my main influences.
7. You’ve talked of System of a Down who have been a massive worldwide success. Did that success change people’s attitudes in Armenia towards popular music ?
Samuum – Absolutely. They are not traditional rock musicians either so they’re just did it. They just wanted to make rock music in a different way without following the rules. They just broke those rules and did whatever they liked which is why they sound like something new and something different. They broke every rule of rock music. You listen to any other band from that time and you will not find anything like what System of a Down did in their music. Metallica, Mudvayne. You will never find those strange rhythms or structures in the music. They had that the dancey, ethnic energy. Rick Rubin said that when he heard System of a Down’s music, he wanted to laugh and dance in a good way. Even when they did songs with sorrow or sadness, they were still dancey and, in some ways, funny. We want to keep this funny, ironic attitude to life which System of a Down had in their music and use it in our music too because it helps you not to be too serious.
8. The album is out in February, what are your plans after the album has been released?
Samuum – Touring. [laughs], We released the first single in July and now we have our second single out. After the album is done and out in February this will be our first attempt to touring. I think the main idea or one of the main ideas is to make this music so that it is very dancey for a crowd. Very heavy in a good way with a lot of sub-bass and low frequencies to make you dance. This is music for concerts not just music for earphones. It’s music for making you sweat. That is why there is a lot of live percussions and live bass, a lot of things to shake your head to during our concerts.
9. If there was an element of Armenian culture that you think needs to be introduced to LA Lucine, what would you say it is?
Lucine – We are very open with our emotions. That for definite. Americans are very open people but Armenians are very warm but they are very close.
10. Thank you for your time and good luck with the album. Just to finish, how would you sum up the last year and what are your hopes for 2021?
Samuum – [laughs]. All of us want to be free out of lockdown at last. It is one of the main hopes we have. 2020 was a good time to stop and think about what you are doing and whether you are doing it right and what you are doing wrong. 2020 has helped us to analyze what we are doing and be more effective. We have made a lot of music because we had more time to spend on the project.