Armen Ra
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Armen Ra

Hollywood, California, United States | SELF

Hollywood, California, United States | SELF
Band Classical New Age

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Nov
29
Armen Ra @ Music Box Theatre LLC

Los Angeles, California, USA

Los Angeles, California, USA

Nov
28
Armen Ra @ The Warfield Theatre

San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco, California, USA

Nov
26
Armen Ra @ King Cat Theater

Seattle, Washington, USA

Seattle, Washington, USA

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Music

Press


He’s set to open for Grinderman’s imminent American tour, but who is Armen Ra?

A performance artist in tangent and presentation, androgynous in toto, but principally a thereminist – the first electronic instrument developed by Russia’s Leon Theremin in the early 20th century – Armen Ra began with the instrument nearly ten years ago, and has built a career around it that culminated in his album Plays The Theremin released this past summer, made up of Ra playing reworked Armenian folk songs.

Those possessed of perfect pitch can wrench a cross-sected amalgam of violin and haunted choir out of the instrument, like dozens of ghosts escaping a light socket in tandem. You can twiddle your fingers and make goofy noises too, as Hollywood did for many decades with the instrument, which has been enjoying a modest resurgence thanks to the work of Ra, Pamelia Kurstin, and reissues of Clara Rockmore’s cast-iron back catalog. - Kspace.tv


You may know Armen Ra as the the theremin virtuoso who came of age among the glamazons and nightcrawlers of gay New York City’s downtown scene, and who’s become a globally renowned musical talent. Or maybe you first encountered him week before last in his guest stint on Logo’s floral design reality show, The Arrangement, where he appeared as a guest star and judge. For that episode, Armen Ra was on hand to also represent the spooky and ooky Saw 3D film (out this Friday, October 29), as he is perhaps the film franchise’s #1 fan.

But either way, Armen Ra is a talent to be reckoned with. I mean, how many people can you name who’ve taken an obscure instrument like the theremin and turned it into a worldwide phenomenon? All the while, boasting a fiercely individual style that combines classic glamour, androgyny, moody mystery and taste for the sleek and sublime.

Anyway … We’re into him! So, after the jump read up on Ra, his music, his love for the gory Saw films, his experience in reality TV and why androgyny and gender nonconformity truly is the final frontier.

[interview begins...] - New Now Next (Logo TV)


"I have been awaiting the release of this compilation since I first received Armen’s demo CD over a year ago when I was completely blown to the moon and back by this artists ability to transmute the subtle realm into audible beauty. Komitas is at the top of my list of adored composers, and as I sit here and listen to the translation of his work to theremin, I note that it is nothing short of exquisitely shocking in its beauty."

"The alchemy of Armen’s translations of these compositions sits in the fact that these songs are voiceless, yet they ironically are overflowing with voice. These pieces move me because they are absent of the voice of the throat, yet filled with the voice of the soul, of the ancestral spirits, of those who left this world voiceless. The singer is non-specific, yet transcendent and all encompassing; thus by its very nature, this sound can be defined as nothing less than sacred music. Another beautiful aspect of this artists work is that he transmutes the sad, the broken, and the unrequited voice into a voice of beauty and strength. The songs are as melancholy as they are beautiful, so much so in their equality, that it is almost impossible to separate these two emotional elements from one another...I am so appreciative of artists who have the rare spirit to create profound works like this in the midst of a world where such work teeters on the verge of extinction. It is the hallmark of compassion in art, and for those of us who walk a similar soul path, it is balm in an otherwise toxic and often depressing landscape"

"...[Armen's] work is a platinum fountain in a charcoal desert." - Musecatcher (Kalliope Amorphous)


Interview-

BOMB Mag: "In order to play the instrument takes so much preparation. It's...you know, that's maybe like 70% of playing it or more than that."

Armen Ra: "It is. Really."

BOMB Mag: "But what about afterwards, like you talked about how your breathing is effected by it. Just in your day-to-day life, how does it effect your approach? You know, the after-effects of having such a concentration?"

Armen Ra: "Well, honestly, it's really added to my life. I had to learn this discipline that this instrument required. I had to kind of discipline myself and acquire a discipline that I did not have, in order to play this instrument. So that's opened the Discipline Door. You know, I changed my whole life when it came to this. After like the third year of playing and really, you know, seeing what was happening and how people were appreciative & effected and I saw this promise in a musical career...it wasn't until then that I started applying that discipline to my own life." - BOMB Magazine (New Art Publications)


Discography

Plays The Theremin (LP)

Photos

Bio

The mesmerizing style of Persian-Armenian theremin virtuoso, Armen Ra, has garnered the admiration of fans on multiple continents. He is considered one of the finest thereminists in the world today.

Intrigued by this strange and one-of-a-kind instrument, Armen Ra began to study the theremin in 2001. His debut performance came later that year when he shared the stage with the orchestral group, Antony & The Johnsons, in New York City. Soon afterward, Armen's well attended solo concert at The Gershwin Hotel was covered by CNN.

Armen has performed at upscale venues in the United States and Europe including:
- The United Nations
- The New Museum (NYC)
- Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles)
- Wiener Konzerthaus Mozartsaal (Vienna)
- Villa Petraia (Florence, Italy)
- The REDCAT (Los Angeles), hosted Armen's
performance of his critically-acclaimed multimedia
piece, "METAL (A Tribute to Maria Callas)".

His debut solo CD, “Plays The Theremin” was released on Bowl & Fork Records in the summer of 2010. It showcases many classical Armenian laments and folk songs, representing both Armen's heritage and his first musical influences.

Armen has performed and recorded with a large variety of artists and orchestras. Recent performances:
- North American tour with rock icon Nick Cave's group,
Grinderman.
- Collaboration with legendary British recording artist,
Marc Almond, on his 2010 release, "Varieté". His
exquisite theremin playing can be heard in the song
"My Madness and I".
- Armen plays on the Current 93 album entitled
"HoneySuckle Aeons". He appears in multiple songs
on this 2011 release.

Armen resides in Hollywood, California.

About the Theremin:
The theremin, the first electronic instrument ever made, was invented by Russian physicist, Leon Theremin, in 1920. It is the only instrument played by not touching it. The complex seven octave theremin is extremely difficult to play, much less, to master. For that reason it is no longer being made. Armen Ra's mastery of this instrument puts him in a class of his own.