Basement Home Studio Update 1

If you remember back in August I made a quick blog post titled Back With a Plan regarding a new home studio for me. Well the plan is now in action, and it’s been over a month already. I’ve been taking a lot of photos during the renovation process and finally I have found some time to put these together and keep you posted.

Here goes…

This was the space I had in the basement



There was a suspended ceiling which is obviously coming off in the next picture.


This wall will be moved back to make more space.


The drywall is gone…


And the padding is gone…


And the wall literally goes down


And this is the wall, moved to it’s new location


Here comes the sound proofing part with some padding.


And more sound proofing with these resilient channels that will hold up the ceiling drywalls. What it does is basically stop the sound from travelling through the drywall and into the wooden structure.


Meanwhile, they had to install a new beam to support the building, and some plumbing work was needed to be done, but I’m not going to bore you with the pictures. So here’s the new ceiling drywall being installed.


And here’s the new space, with drywalls installed and plastered.


Self leveling is down, getting the floor ready for the wood floor installation.


And the floors are being installed.


The electrician is here, preparing the wall plate boxes which will be used later behind the new workstation and Guitar amp/racks etc…


This is the entire space for my new workstation, Guitar amp/cabinet/racks are going on the left, two computers on the right, under the window with two gorgeous new monitors. I’ll post some pics as soon as I get them. All the wires will be going through the walls, so the new space will be clutter free, with absolutely no distractions. Total focus on making new music!


Got some connection cables from Amazon, The nerd in me is getting over-excited.


And just installed a sweet looking electric fireplace. The guitars are going to be wall-mounted, probably to the left of the fireplace. And as you can see the spotlights are installed.



Alright, now you’re up to date with what’s going on in Shant-land. The painter will start painting the ceiling and a couple of walls this week, and hopefully the electrician will come in later this week to finish some more work, installing LED strips under the staircase steps and in the corners of he ceiling for a cool looking effect.

I think we’re 60% done, there’s still some work to do on a few walls, there will be also a wall where a couple of cabinets will be installed in-wall to hold receivers, modems and media players, and another cabinet for my CDs, DVDs and LPs.

I’ll post another update as soon as I can.

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Semantic Saturation Featured on Noah’s Arkhive

Noah, my neighbor is studying journalism, he wanted to interview me last week and write a piece about me and Semantic Saturation on his blog.

Thank you Noah, I wish you the best of luck in your studies; and after reading the article you wrote I can already tell you are on the right track.


Shant Hagopian, syrian rock superstar!

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 5.35.18 PMMy father introduced me to Shant’s album last summer, and it was within the first five minutes of listening to “Solipsistic,” his latest album, that I knew that this guy had something special. On election day, I was lucky to get a hold of him, as he happened to be standing behind me in line; generously, he agreed to an interview

“He’s obsessed with Pink Floyd,” told me Shant Hagopian’s wife as I noticed a painting made out of guitar picks of the legendary guitarist David Gilmour of the band “Pink Floyd.” My walk here from home was under 1 minute, I live across the street. As I sat on the couch and asked his wife, Nanor, a few questions, she served me a glass of water. After a few minutes of finding out about how they met and what their first date paintballing was like, Shant came upstairs from his hard work looking exactly like what you would think a metal guitarist would look like. From the long hair and scruffy beard to the casual t-shirt and jeans, this guy says rock’n’roll from head to toe. We had a small chat about his life and career as a musician.

It all started because of bands like Bon Jovi, Aerosmith and Pink Floyd that Shant got into the rock world and began playing guitar at the age of 15 later going to music school.

“Nobody told me I was going to freeze my ass up here,” Shant explains. Born in Syria, he first created the band named “Nu.Clear.Dawn” in his youth while studying music. The band became popular in Syria after doing many cover shows, and a few years later for being the first metal band in Syria to release an album, but it did not come easy. “It’s a lot easier to build a house in Canada than it is to play a rock concert back in Syria, it’s almost impossible to release a rock album”IMG_7979s

But they did it, and the band grew and gained more and more recognition. Unfortunately Shant felt conflicted with the fact that there was no way the band could really take off from Syria. So he moved to Canada, one of the safest and most peaceful countries in the world. Honestly, who could blame him after all the conflicts, wars and explosions in the Middle East. “I consider myself very lucky for moving out of Syria before the revolution started which eventually led to the current horrible situation.”

But while Shant moved to Montreal, his other band mates fled Syria to move to different parts of the world. Shant used the incredible technology of today’s world to create his album through the Internet. He would write the songs, write down how he wanted them to be and then he would send them to different musicians around the world to add their touch and combine their talent creating an incredible piece of art. In 2013 the band he named “Semantic Saturation,” released the album “Solipsistic.”

“Semantic Saturation” and “Solipsistic”, two names I found extremely fascinating after he explained to me what they meant. “Semantic Saturation”, was the term used to describe the moment when you say a word over and over until it begins to lose meaning and starts being funny. The choice of the album name was a reflection of how the media causes us to become desensitized to the events revolving around us. Considering all the shocking things happening in Syria it’s easy to see why he would pick the name. “Solipsistic” on the other hand is the theory in which only you exist and everything and everybody around you is an illusion created simply for you. He chose the name, because it reflected the way he worked, he was reaching out to all these people through the Internet and it felt as though he was the only real person in his music-making world.

Look at the album artwork and you’ll see a girl representing “the listener” facing a metropolis of fake buildings, facades are what you see and with incredible detail you’ll notice some construction workers building everything for no one but her . Open up the CD pack and you get a 360 view of this “false reality” the girl is seeing.

After reading the reviews of the album it seems as though the album was quite a success especially since I did not notice a single trace of negative criticism. Getting to know Shant was great and I could truly say that this guy is the definition of cool.His laidback attitude and the detailed description of his life allowed for the opportunity to see how much he must have worked hard for what he’s accomplished.

If you want to get to know Shant Hagopian a little better you can either follow him on bandcamp, or you could check out his latest video on YouTube, believe me you won’t regret it. (Links Down Below)

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 5.34.52 PM




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Heavy Metal Music Under Attack

Last week’s terror attacks in Paris left the entire world in shock, the number of deaths are up to 129, of which dozens are hospitalized and in critical condition. One of the attacks was at the Bataclan concert hall where the rock band Eagles of Death Metal from USA was playing, and where 89 innocent rockers have lost their lives that evening.
Friday night, DAESH (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The Paris attacks were not only against the French people, the terrorists specifically targeted the Bataclan knowing there was a metal concert being held there Friday evening, as per their claim in their statement that was released Friday. According to their beliefs, this type of music (or any other genre for that matter) is not acceptable by their deity.

The Bataclan crowd, minutes before the attacks

The Bataclan crowd, minutes before the attack

Easier Said Than Done

Let me first explain, why I think what I wrote above is true.
As you may or may not know, I am an Armenian born in Syria, where I started playing in my previous band Nu.Clear.Dawn along with my band-mates for around eight years, until I decided to leave the country at one point in 2005. It was a very tough decision for me to make, but something helped me decide. What was it?

Since the very first Nu.Clear.Dawn concert we played in Aleppo back in October 1997 we’ve been struggling as musicians, artists and metal-heads. You see, getting paperwork done to build a bridge in Canada or the U.S is probably easier than organizing and playing a rock show in Syria.

The amount of paperwork you need and the effort and time you need to have them signed by the authorities are extremely nerve wrecking, specially when they notice two words on the papers “Rock show”. Sometimes we had to travel far distances to the capital Damascus to get the permits; yes, it’s plural… One for advertisements, one from the mayor, one from financial services building, one from the secret agency, one from Humpty Dumpty and a quick little prayer to please the gods of mercy and the sorceress of the table of elements.

Basically the last few weeks before the show we pretty much run around kissing everybody’s asses to let us play music. Most of the time we were simply harassed because the employee didn’t feel like issuing the permit to us so we had to return the next day and try again. Other times, they ask us to acquire a permit from the mayor first, to which the mayor would respond with “No, you have to get a permission for this other thing first”, at one point it even boiled down to wordplay, simply changing “Rock Show” to “A musical evening”. I won’t bore you with the nitty-gritty details, all in all a few weeks of madness and endless stress before we hit the stage.

But why all this?

A History of Violence

Once upon a time in a far away land called Lebanon, a teenager has committed suicide because of family problems, and upon investigation the authorities have found cassette tapes of Heavy Metal music in the kid’s room, very odd right? I mean who listens to heavy metal? surely SATANISTS.

Does the story sound familiar? Yes, similar stories can be found in the U.S. where the media brainwashes you with “video games promote violence”, but it’s only video games that do that, violent movies do not. End of sarcasm.

It goes without saying, that the governments of Lebanon and Syria and pretty much every neighbouring Arab country has related heavy metal music to Satanists since then. And the name got stuck, specially to us musicians who play Satan’s music. What a privilege!

At one point, I was even called for an interrogation during our studio sessions when we were recording Poem of a Knight back in 2002. Apparently they know of secret Satanic temples in the country where all these metal-heads go to every week to perform and be part of Satanic rituals while listening to metal and drinking cat and bat blood after sacrificing them to Lucifer. When this man finished questioning me, I was to remain with them until the general decides what to do with me and my friend who had a music store selling “illegal” music to these fans. Some of the artists that made it to the illegal list were: don’t laugh… Bon Jovi, Sum 41 and Nirvana. While Cradle of Filth, Deicide, Cannibal Corpse and other death metal bands were completely ignored.

At this point, the only thing crossing our minds is the endless imagery of torture. So a few hours later, I was finally called to the general’s office. The moment I entered the office and he saw my long hair, he was absolutely furious. I’ve been called lots of things I will not disclose here, but eventually when I calmed him down a little bit, he produced a copy of Iron Maiden‘s Brave New World CD from his drawer and proceeded to inserting it in his CD player, and now we’re all sitting angry at each other and started listening to Iron Maiden, it got real awkward. When Brucey started singing the general asked me to translate what he was saying, at this point I pretty much have two natural choices, either I translate it to him in Arabic literally, which would probably take a few hours, and he would not be very happy anyway, or I could just say “I don’t even know this band and I cannot understand what he is singing”. Which is what I did (sorry Bruce), after which I concluded my interview by saying “I am a graduate student from a well known music institute, do you think I have time for such idiocy?”. Luckily, he had enough of me then and sent me back to the other guy for more questions, and later around midnight that day we were both let go; under certain conditions.

In Protest

Nevertheless, we continued recording and eventually released our debut album in 2003, and we continued playing shows around the region; even though playing rock & metal shows started getting even harder year after year. All this has led me to make a decision and move out of the country if I wanted to make more music.

As a musician and a metal-head, I will continue making metal music in protest of everything that is happening in the world right now, but I promise that I’ll do my best to not drink any cat blood during our weekly Satanic rituals in my basement. Last time I checked, playing Satanic music is a lot less horrible thing to do than killing people in the name of a supernatural being.

Hail Satan.

P.s. To take part in the weekly Satanic ritual, and to be registered as an official member of the Unholy Empire of Lucifer, you need to purchase a copy of Solipsistic.

P.p.s. This post is not meant to attack Syria, Lebanon or any Arab country for that matter. I am merely telling you the events as they have happened to me.

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My Fans and Friends in Paris

I hope you are all safe after the devastating shocking events yesterday. 

Stay safe and bon courage.

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Mike Portnoy Ripping Hello Kitty

I never thought I’d use Mike Portnoy and Hello Kitty in one sentence.

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