teamCARPE’s AURELLI and ANGEL had the opportunity to sit down with VIKEN ARMAN, known for his futuristic music production and famed for playing the most satisfying and innovative sets for his audiences in an effort to convey his internal mindscape.
The Viken Arman sound is known for crossing the boundaries of electronic music to something more spiritual and soulful, which is what a lot of EDM fans may not expect to vibe to. A beanie on his head and a paper fan in his hands, Viken said, “I think it all starts with my roots; my background. It’s always about your honest history, basically.
As you dig into it [your history], you find something which is spiritual because it belongs to you — as soon as you embrace all the elements of your history, and compose or translate it into whatever your art is — you’ll find that sound.”
Viken Arman’s latest album, Willow, was filled with cultural notes and refined with gradually-prominent spiritual undertones. “This particular EP was directed by a lot of jazz, free jazz”, Viken tells us. He stops to fix his beanie before continuing, “When you think about it, I grew up in free jazz, so John Coltrane, a lot of producers in the 90s, J Dilla — these were a few names specifically who really educated me in music. As I was saying, my history, my roots and my sound is a blend with a lot of minimal techno music and hip hop — and jazz!” He grins after detailing this unique blend, remarking that “it’s been a really interesting project.”
He’d started producing music at a young age, exploring techno and the poeticism of spiritual sounds to eventually arrive at the current blend which fuses both together, making for an impressive and refreshing set at Garden Beats 2020. “I think that when you want to start electronic music, you need a good base — because the patterns are really simple. It’s like, sixteen bars and you can basically sample stuff, compose things — you don’t have any limits and you don’t need any [music] theory.”
“Tell young people that they don’t need that limit; they can just start making music. And keep up”, he adds, a glint in his eye.
However, beyond his insight on getting into electronic music and working with materials that an individual might have, we wanted to ask him about balancing between his two main genres, too. So, we asked the lofty question at the end of the night — How exactly do you balance between jazz and electronic?
“I’m trying to translate this jazz theory into a modern one which is a little bit simpler because jazz can be really hard for people to understand, and that’s why this music is kind of dying right now.”
“That’s an interesting question”, Viken says, clasping both hands together. After a contemplative pause, he continues. “I’m still trying to figure it out. I think it’s a mission of everyday life. It’s not that easy because there’s so many different directions you can go but I think I’m trying to translate this jazz theory into a modern one which is a little bit simpler because jazz can be really hard for people to understand, and that’s why this music is kind of dying right now.”
“People need to understand what is going on. So you always have to bring people, it sort of marks here and there.
For example, the first four beats like “boom jack boom jack“. They [people] will feel it in whatever way they want, and you can fill it with jazz elements or punk or what you like — but the way you decide what to fill it with is by understanding what you want to share. The most important part is to keep beats understandable, to aim to use your music as a sort of universal language. Because if you’re the only one who understands what you are saying, you are alone in your trip.”
The most important part is to keep beats understandable, to aim to use your music as a sort of universal language.
“I have some friends”, he swats at the air cheerily, “who often say I don’t give a sh*t, I just play my music. I’m always like ‘Guys! No one understands it; just a few people.’ My idea is to keep a common denominator and then add my spices on top of it.” Viken’s steadfast commitment to making music a common pathway between individuals and even between the two genres he blends is admirable, and something that a lot of youth can take as valuable insight when it comes to producing their own original compositions.