Song River: Reading a recent description of Viza it said, "Energized International Rock" can you expound?
Andrew Kzirian: That’s one way of describing our music – we also think of it as “metal eastern” ☺ As far as being energized, I think a lot of that has to do with how exciting and lively our performances are – it’s a part of our band’s identity. The international has to do with our influences as far as where we are from in terms of our ancestry (Armenian/Greek) and the instruments our project incorporates (oud – fretless string plucked instrument, duduk – double-reed wind instrument, Doumbek – middle eastern hand percussion instrument, played in tandem with drums).
SR: Your festival performances are quite varied and something it would seem Viza has become known for in the festival going circuit. What is it do you think that creates the underlying connection with your fans and Viza?
Andrew Kzirian: We’ve been blessed to perform at festivals all over including Download, Sziget, Aftershock, etc. A big part of our group’s artistry has to do with how we perform and our presence and connection with the audience in a live setting. Our songs also tend to contain strong rock/dance grooves which tend to fit well in a festival setting. The shows can be incredibly fun. It was amazing seeing people moshing and in a circle pit at a heavy rock festival with an oud on stage!
SR: Overall how does a group of musicians figure out some type of cohesive method betwixt themselves when there is so much creativity booming constantly and consistently?
Andrew Kzirian: It’s been quite a thrilling ride. We’ve had some personnel changes here and there over the years. But all the members in our current lineup have all been around for about 10 years minimum or so, so there is a strong sense of identity and continuity. We have a very open songwriting environment as well, so if someone has an idea they want to bring in we make it happen.
SR: Talk about the pathway that lead to the double release The Unorthodox Revival.
Andrew Kzirian: Excellent using the word “Pathway” which happens to be our most recent single release! We just finished releasing 12 tracks on a monthly basis through our YouTube channel (experience Viza on YouTube) and also wanted to make sure to offer them in physical form for our very dedicated fan base. With realities in the music industry being what they are as far as downloading and streaming being such an important of sharing a band’s music, we decided to embrace this dynamic and be proactive on that front. However, we also wanted to offer something cool and different for our supportive amazing fans in terms of the unique artwork we had worked into these releases, so we put out two physical 6-song EPs named “The Unorthodox Revival” with Volumes I and II. We are focusing promoting and marketing that as we gear up for more shows, festivals, etc. The songs are each much like episodes of an anthology series in that they are all quite different on their face, but share a common denominator at some level. Would love to hear what people think about the release
SR: Were there any moments along the way leading up to the first recording that felt like... maybe this should wait?
Andrew Kzirian: Given this was the first time we had approached an electronic on-line release format for our music, we were interested to see how people would react, but were quite sure the response would be very positive and welcomed by fans because we believe in our music and also because of the music industry environment today. When you think about it, the excitement and suspense that comes with periodic releases of individual tracks allow listeners to focus in on and absorb a particular song at one time and really take it in and give it a sense of concentrated attention. I think this is a good way to promote your music instead of dumping entire albums on listeners with one comprehensive release.
SR: Most often every musician has their favorites off an EP or album. Looking at each Volume as unto itself what are your favorites or favorite and explain why they are?
Andrew Kzirian: I really enjoy all the songs, and you can tell to a degree which songs are written and directed/arranged by which band member – but that’s a nice way of showing how versatile and collaborative our group is when it comes to songwriting. I would say off Volume I, “Viktorious”, which was our first release, really provided fans a dose of what they had been missing after we hadn’t released music for a couple years – and it was a signature Viza style track as far as its sound and feel, the theatrics of the vocals and gypsy-fusion style music pervading the song. For Volume II, “Pathway” is a very powerful and moving song that explores some of our band’s stronger and heavier rock background fused with the oud’s melody and some odd time signature sections which spice things up in a very classic Viza way, along with a soaring chorus.
SR: The instrumentation always captures a certain cue of interest in works of art like this release and the engineer in the production must be keenly aware. What do you feel engineer YuryAnisonyan brought to the table on this project?
Andrew Kzirian: It was an absolute pleasure working with Yury – he has a tremendous sense of how to get the most out of an instrument and a recording session, and a keen ear for offering helpful suggestions and support when we were recording. He has a diverse background and has recorded pretty much any style one can think of in his wide array of professional experience, which helped us a great deal given our eclectic sound and fusion based music. We would strongly recommend him to people looking for a passionate engineer to help them realize their vision and sound.
SR: The album art is astounding! Who did you work with?
Andrew Kzirian: Alex Zabolotsky is a very talented visual artist and graphic designer, and we had the honor of working with him for these releases. In putting our songs together, we wanted to provide the audience with a striking and riveting image for each track to help offer a more complete sensory experience aside from just listening to the music. And it was important to help tell the story of a song – which could be truly brought to life in an exciting and imposing way through Alex’s powerful visual work. He did a fantastic job for each of the songs.
SR: A vinyl production or CD production even satisfies the album art aficionado. Do you all sense that each of the pieces of this release really is the opus of Viza and who you are from A to Zed?
Andrew Kzirian: We are extremely proud to have completed these songs, especially in the manner we did combining online and physical releases of the two EP volumes, in tandem with individualized artwork. These songs are a strong statement of our project’s current vitality and ambitions to go as far as possible in our journey to share our music with music lovers all over the world.
SR: What is in store for Viza come 2019?
Andrew Kzirian: We are working on promoting both volumes of “The Unorthodox Revival”, along with more festivals, more shows, more collaborations, and preparing to film some music videos to provide more content for our wonderful fans. It’s going to be an exciting year coming up and we hope everyone will join us for a fun ride! Maybe even some more songwriting in mid-2019?
“VIZA IS ONE OF THE MOST UNIQUE AND INTERESTING BANDS I HAVE EVER ENCOUNTERED. THEIR LIVE SHOWS ARE ENERGETIC AND FUN”
Viza continues to captivate the global music scene with an erratically amusing blend of energized international rock. Unique in its musical arsenal is the inclusion of loud and percussion blended with more traditional rock elements such as guitar, bass, and drums. This fascinating fusion, combined with dramatic and powerful live performances have garnered Viza significant success all over the world.
Among the band’s extensive touring schedule, Viza has performed at one of Europe’s largest and most prestigious music events at Hungary’s Sziget Festival’s main stage (alongside Korn, The Killers, Axwell, The Vaccines, and The XX, among several others) as part of a month-long European tour in August 2012. Viza has also performed at Sweden’s Malmofestivalen, Norway's Kartfestivalen, Slovenia's Schengenfest and Trnfest and Greece’s Rockwave Festival (alongside The Prodigy, Gogol Bordello, Flogging Molly, and Marky Ramone’s Blitzkrieg), and has toured Europe 6 times in the past 2 years alone.
Demonstrating a knack for reinventing old rock classics, Viza covered the Doors tune "Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)" by adding its own strong seasonings and aggressive fusion style in a compelling reimagination of this classic rock ballad, which is available for free download.
Aside from a passion for music, touring and songwriting, Viza’s extensive performances around the globe also serve as their voice for promoting social consciousness of human rights and community issues – as well as providing opportunities to fund-raise for various charities, homeless shelters, and orphanages.
“WHEN QUENTIN TARANTINO SHOOTS HIS NEXT MOVIE, HE SHOULD BE USING THIS AS THE SOUNDTRACK.”
THIS IS NOT A SCENE