SYSTEM OF A DOWN's SERJ TANKIAN Explains His Musical Collaboration With Armenian Prime Minister
July 5, 2020
In a recent interview with Armenian-born American television personality Araksya Karapetyan, SYSTEM OF A DOWN frontman Serj Tankian spoke about his collaboration with Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan on the song called "Hayastane" (Hayastan is the Armenian name for Armenia). Asked how the track came about, Serj said (see video below): "The [2018 Armenian] Revolution happened, and the new government got in and the new parliament got in. And a couple of months after the Revolution, I brought my family back to Armenia with me, 'cause when I had gone there in early May of 2018, I went alone with a few friends, and then I wanted to take my family back. And I was hanging out with the prime minister, talking to him about different things. And I played him an Armenian song that I had written, which was very sad. It was based on my experiences in 2017 when there was a rigged parliamentary election and I had gone with a number of artist friends as part of an organization we created called Justice Within Armenia. And we were minitors — we were trained to be monitors and go from different voting booths and seeing what was going on. And it was a depressing trip, 'cause I went back home going, 'Nothing's changing. Nothing's going to change. It's gonna take another 20 years, like everyone thought' — just in that deep state of not feeling well about things. And I wrote that song. And he listened to it, and he said, 'You know what? We have so many melancholic songs in our history. A lot of them are melancholic. Let's write one that's positive and victorious.' I'm, like, 'I'm with you. You write the lyrics, I'll do the music.' And we didn't really talk about it after that; I thought that was that. And then one day he had kind of written this piece, the lyrics that are now to the song 'Hayastane'. And I saw it actually on Facebook — some kind of thing with the lyrics on it, talking about Armenia. And he had posted it or something like that. And then he sent it to me. And I'm, like, 'Oh, this is great.' So I sat down, grabbed my acoustic guitar, worked on it, sent it to him for notes, and we just [went] back and forth with notes until it was done. So we basically co-wrote the song, and it was really fun, it was really cool. So when the COVID thing just started happening, I was in New Zealand; obviously, he is in Armenia. And I hit him up. I said, 'I think the song is done. Should we make a video and just release it and maybe donate the funds to My Step?' And he said, 'What a phenomenal idea. Thank you.' And that's what we did."
According to Serj, at, the My Step Foundation is an "amazing charity that is spearheading many meaningful initiatives within Armenia focusing on public health, education, culture, social welfare, environment along with other sectors in need, including the current crisis surrounding COVID-19."
Tankian is the grandchild of Armenian Genocide survivors and achieved fame as the frontman of SYSTEM OF A DOWN, which has sold over 40 million records worldwide. While still touring with the hard rock group, Tankian has also recorded success as a solo musician and singer, songwriter, film score composer, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, poet and political activist.
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