NEW YORK — Musician Alan Semerdjian’s recently released his album, “Quiet Songs for Loud Times,” represents a fresh, personal take on the challenges that affect society as a whole, but it can also be viewed as a return to basics for the singer who has spent the last 20 years dedicated to creative expression through music, writing and art.
From an early age, Semerdjian exhibited the qualities of a writer, composing poems and lyrics. Semerdjian was born in Woodside, Queens and grew up in Melville, Long Island. His musical journey began in high school, when he was asked to fill in for a lead singer in a local alternative rock band who had taken ill. Semerdjian continued writing lyrics and composing songs for the band, later known as Surreal. “I suppose the passion to make something as ethereal and as haunting as the Armenian church music I heard my grandfather play on Sundays throughout our house was present as a child, but the impetus to seriously consider making music came a bit later,” said Semerdjian.
Semerdjian grew up speaking Armenian at home with his family and grandparents. Participating in traditional holidays, eating Armenian cuisine, his culture played an evident role in shaping his creative aesthetics. Semerdjian came to understand the world through an “Armenian cultural lens,” he said. “I have come to understand Armenians as a hearty and imaginative folk full of life, yes, but also filled with a deep longing — all modifiers critics have used to describe my work.”
Today, he calls the East Village his “urban home,” while the beaches and bays of the island of Manhattan serve as his “rural home.” His passion for artistic expression of the human condition has led him to channel those feelings and sensations in variety of different forms and roles — as a musician, a poet, a writer, an artist and a teacher. The lines between these roles are not clearly defined, but rather interact and inform one another. Semerdjian also shares his propensity for artistic expression with others. “Ultimately, the goal of making art, for me, is to enter conversations about the human condition. All three [writing, music, teaching] do this for me. They each shine a light into what it means to be human and alive and full of love and fear and joy and hesitation and reflection.” He also credited his position teaching high school English with informing his process and noted the importance of sharing in “a community of thinkers.”