SERJ TANKIAN On Dealing With Online Criticism: 'Nobody Likes To Be Hated'

October 20, 2022

Armenian-American singer and activist Serj Tankian (SYSTEM OF A DOWN) recently sat down with Lara Tcholakian of CivilNet, the media project of the Civilitas Foundation, to talk about what it means to lead a meaningful and mindful life. He takes the viewer on a journey of how his sense of justice and passion for music and the arts enabled him to discover his purpose. Tankian discusses his experiences during and after the 2020 Artsakh War, his thoughts about the need for a strong and independent Armenia, his triggers related to injustice, and the importance of finding the voice within.

Speaking about how he goes about living an "authentic" life, Serj said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "In the beginning days of the band, I was lucky enough to be a little older, and seeing an industry that's based on illusion and hype — the music industry, the film industry, it's a lot of hype — and realizing that that is exactly what it is; it is hype, and not taking it too seriously. And that's always kind of kept me normal in that industry, if you will.

"Everyone enjoys praise; everyone enjoys being revered, but you also have to weigh that against the reality of who you actually are and what other people's perceptions are," he continued. "And at one point you have to, for your own health, discount other people's perceptions altogether and just say, this is who I am. Sometimes I'm going to be loved and there are times I'm going to not liked or hated or whatever. As long as I know that I'm following my vision and doing the right thing, that I could sleep at night and deal with the challenges accordingly, then it's good."

Tankian went on to say that he applies the same philosophy to the way he deals with online criticism.

"Nobody likes to be criticized, is the truth," he said. "Nobody likes to be hated, and nobody likes to be put under that type of pressure. But I just feel like irrespective of what's happening outside, as long as you are following the path that you think is the right path…

"As we grow older, we realize that everything's interconnected, and we see the purposes of all of these things," he continued. "Even pressure has a purpose; it's got an end goal. So if you're able to see that, then you see that people are trying to use a certain amount of pressure to make you do a certain thing. And it's transparent. And if it's not something that you want to do, then you don't do it. But you have to know what that is; you have to apply awareness to all of those things, be they personal, political, social, and do what you need to do.

"It's an interesting thing, because it's not selfish, but it's almost a kind of selfishness where you are trying to be in so tune of what your vision is that you don't wanna disregard other people's opinions and perspectives but you can't necessarily apply yourself to them if you actually know where you're going," Serj added.

Tankian will release a new five-song EP titled "Perplex Cities" on October 21 via Serjical Strike. "Perplex Cities" is Serj's second EP in the last couple of years, following his 2021 release of the hard-hitting "Elasticity" EP.

For those interested in his musically composed art, Tankian recently debuted new paintings at Stephanie's Gallery in the Los Angeles area. The exhibition is titled "Shapeshift – A Dynamic Dive Into Diversity" and extends through November 1.

On April 29 of next year, fans of Tankian will also be treated to a unique concert with the debut of "Invocations" at The Soraya in Northridge. Composed and performed by Serj, these new works are symphonic, operatic, emotive and will bring the CSUN Symphony, ethnic instrumentalists and a variety of diverse vocalists, including Tankian, together on stage with a choir for this very special evening of live musical performance.

Photo credit: Travis Shinn

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