Self-Portrait: Bedouine | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, September 21st, 2023  

Self-Portrait: Bedouine

The Language of Regret

Nov 10, 2021 Photography by Azniv Korkejian (Self-Portrait Drawing) Web Exclusive
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For our recurring Self-Portrait feature, we ask musicians to take a self-portrait photo (or paint/draw a self-portrait) and write a list of personal things about themselves, things that their fans might not already know about them. This Self-Portrait is by Bedouine (aka Azniv Korkejian).

Last month Bedouine released a new album, Waysides, via The Orchard. Waysides is Bedouine’s third album, the follow-up to 2019’s Bird Songs of a Killjoy. Korkejian produced and recorded Waysides herself, along with musician/producer Gus Seyffert (Beck, Michael Kiwanuka, Dr Dog) in Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles and Yucca Valley, California. The album also features Mike Andrews, Josh Adams, and Gabriel Noel. The album includes the Joni Mitchell-inspired “The Solitude” and “The Wave,” which deals with the pain and confusion of grief.

“I wrote this about the loss of a close friend, specifically the swell of emotion I try to resign myself to when thinking of her premature absence,” Korkejian said of “The Wave” in a press release. “She was someone who had an uncomplicated relationship with life and living. I often wondered ‘Why her and not me?’ I was trying to practice the things I was learning, to surrender to the fear and the grief…and the fear of grief. I haven’t entirely worked through it. Writing ‘The Wave’ was a reminder to feel my feelings. At a time of such collective loss I imagine there are people out there that could relate. It feels cathartic to share.”

Korkejian was born in Aleppo, Syria to Armenian parents, but spent her childhood in Saudi Arabia and then moved to America when her family won a Green Card lottery. She’s lived all over the U.S., including Boston, Houston, Lexington, Austin, Savannah, and Los Angeles.

Above is Korkejian’s self-portrait drawing. Read on as she writes about language and accents, one of her biggest regrets, and the important woman she is named after.

1. I learned English with a British accent. First my parents enrolled me in an Arabic school, then a British one. Shortly after, they decided on an American school all in the span of a few weeks. My mom says I’d come home upset that the American kids made fun of my British accent.

2. I moved to Los Angeles to work in film sound. That’s what I studied and knowing Pro-Tools has come in handy with music. I make a point to offer to teach women I know. It seems few are given the opportunity to learn those types of tools.

3. Piano was my first instrument. My mom would make me practice beside a kitchen timer set to 45 minutes every day after school. I couldn’t do anything until I was done. I eventually rebelled against it but quitting piano may be my biggest regret.

4. I’m currently addicted to language learning apps. It’s a shame I don’t speak more languages since it’s commonplace for people in the Middle East to speak several. I’m casually learning Arabic and French now.

5. I like to draw with charcoal. I’m not a very visual person but I appreciate the texture of charcoal and how it can encourage you to make big strokes. I think I could apply that to other parts of my life.

6. It took me eight years (on and off) to get a college degree. I put off real life and extended this incubation period for as long as possible. I’d follow whatever grants and scholarships I got with some breaks in between.

7. I considered moving to Riyadh [in Saudi Arabia] to teach English before releasing my first album. My parents were there at the time, living in the same compound I grew up in. For a moment I was aimless in LA and felt a gravitational pull back to my roots. Ultimately, I was convinced not to go and then completed my self-titled album.

8. My grandmother is my namesake. She was a strong figure and the nucleus of our family. Visiting her in Syria and seeing how everyone orbited her was one of my favorite things. I feel lucky to have bore witness to that matriarchy.

Read our 2017 interview with Bedouine.

Photo by Claire Marie Vogel
Photo by Claire Marie Vogel

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