How Tankian recycled his own music
System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian cut and looped his own back-catalogue to create his new solo album.
And his inspiration for the work came from the mass death of a flock of blackbirds.
Harakiri is his third solo record, due for release next month.
Tankian tells Guitar World: “If you remember in Arkansas there were around 25,000 blackbirds falling from the sky. There was something ominous about the whole thing.
“It really strongly affected me, more than anything else that was going on – enough to go, ‘Okay, this is a huge fucking sign, but I don’t know what it means.’”
The inspiration set him on the road “to try and decipher what it could mean, psychologically, spiritually, and asking these major questions.”
Among the themes on the album is the concept of corporate finance versus democracy. Tankian explains: “Any time you you go to the extreme of any mode of economics, you have this feedback mechanism that make the system turn in on itself.
“If you allow for a purely capitalist society you’ll get one monopoly that will eat all the smaller fish and own everything, and then you’ll have zero capitalism.
“We have to have the built-in security nets for the sake of democracy. I don’t think we should be married to an economic system unless it’s goof for all of our people.
“That’s why education is so important – to have an uneducated democracy… sometimes it’s better to have a benign dictator than a dumb democracy. We are easily led if we’re gullible.”
The music of Harakiri was built from parts of Tankian’s previous albums Elect the Dead and Imperfect Harmonies.
He explains: “I took the first two records and I chopped all the different elements into loops, and took it as my own loop library. Almost like an electronic musician, I would write my rock songs using previous loops, just to have something to go off of, like a sketch pad.
“It’s pretty cool. I use other royalty-free loops in the process but I like using my own because no one else has those. It’s kind of ecological – music recycling, if you will.”