“APRE ԱՊՐԷ” is a new song by club-tangential producer Lara Sarkissian, who DJs under the moniker foozool and also works as a filmmaker and curator. Raised in San Francisco, she currently runs the wave-making Club Chai party in Oakland alongside producer, curator, and installation artist 8ULENTINA — who recently put together a compilation centering a feminine perspective within the non-Western diaspora called DISMISS U, on which Sarkissian features.
The title of Sarkissian’s new tune translates in English as “to live” or “dwell,” and it pairs velvety, circuitously trancing tuned percussion with overdriven storm sound effects, blunt strikes of noise, and commanding bass drums. It’s based around a sample from “ԱՊՐԷ,” one of the most famous poems by Armenian poet Paruyr Sevak, who was also a social and political activist.
Sarkissian is of Iranian-Armenian descent and has stated that her work deals with “familial narratives, diasporic intimacy and memory,” and also said that her use of Persian, Assyrian, and Arabic music in her own productions and mixes offers a “way to make sense of existence and identities in the diaspora.” Relating to this approach of navigating MP3 samples as sites of memory-archives, the sonic world of “APRE” relays a simultaneous sense of opening — also carried by the agentic becoming of its titular sample — and sweetly feverish claustrophobia, suggesting generativity within unresolved tension. All along, the pace is kept by blunt strikes of muffled DAW tones on the fourth beat, revving and dragging the track’s concussive pressure.
We exchanged a few words via email about her work and what’s on the horizon.
What is the significance of the track’s title for you, and the sample it’s derived from? What is your relationship with Sevak’s work?
The vocal sample I used is from a recitation by Paruyr Sevak — his poem “Aprel” [to live]. My nana loved his poetry, and I grew up reading/reciting his poems in Armenian school. His writing has always brought warmth. Sometimes I’d catch Nana looking lost in her thoughts and start reciting something by him. The track is dedicated to her.
What are some of the other samples that feature in “APRE ԱՊՐԷ”? Were you trying to build something pretty precisely articulated like on “Hishatak (memory),” or is this track the result of a different approach?
A couple other sounds I sampled were a santoor and flute. I didn’t have a linear plan or intentionally bring certain sounds together like Hishatak, but gradually added sounds that I thought would contrast yet compliment. Bring tension then a break for calmness.
You’ve talked about the samples you work with as having a specific personal meaning relating to negotiation of identity, intergenerationality, and diaspora. What role does sampling play in your work? How does narrativization figure in?
Sometimes I sample wind, string, and percussion instruments found in traditional Armenian music and pair it with electronic sounds. A lot of traditional Armenian music that uses the duduk or kanoun, for example, can be very emotional as it reflects tragic Armenian history, naturally echoing the times they were written in. Armenian stories, emotions, and voices are documented in its music — whether it’s from folk dance to classical to revolutionary (heghapokhagan) to religious. I’m interested in approaching these sounds and elements as a way of archiving and bringing other emotions/narratives to the present.
During his heyday, DJ Premier said he knew the samples he was looking for before he found them. With your work, I feel like I’m hearing a different aesthetic of arrangement, one perhaps more analogous to sedimentation, a gradual kind of coming together. Is there any accuracy to that observation?
There are times my production process starts with a sample I know I really want to use and have it as an outline, even if it is just a couple seconds. I usually work with having a visual scene in my mind and building with the action, feelings, and plot from that. A clash of tempos and textures just like a visual would feel. It can even be the simplest things. Specifically in Kenats, it was kind of like “your great uncle or aunt is making a toast at the dinner table and it’s long, dragged on but with so much humor and wisdom” haha.
What are some projects you’ve got coming up on the horizon?
I’m excited to have a remix coming out on Superfície’s forthcoming debut EP with Salviatek and also working on more original productions. 8ULENTINA and I have a lot of Club Chai plans and collaborations coming up this Summer and Fall, and I’ll be teaching a sound design for film workshop for youth at TUMO Center for Creative Technologies in Armenia and Karabakh this Fall.