A native of Istanbul, the founder of alternative rock band Beyaz Yunus (“White Dolphin”) and author of many albums, the most notable of which, Anne, came out on his own label in 2003. That same year Yaşar Kurt organized the Barişarock festival, which became one of Turkey’s most prominent rock events. When Kurt learned about his Armenian heritage, he reached out to Armenian-Turkish artist Arto Tunçboyacıyan and together they created the YashAr project.
Most music connoisseurs have heard of Komitas, but Armenians’ musical talents extend way beyond classics. Below is a selection of the world’s coolest Armenian rockers, meticulously prepared by our staff musician. Turn up the volume and enjoy!
1. Yaşar Kurt
2. Daron Malakian
An American singer and songwriter and a sound producer who plays several musical instruments, Malakian rose to fame as one of the members of System of a Down and as a leading vocalist, guitarist and songwriter for Scars on Broadway. He ranks in the honorable 30th place in Guitar World's list of “The 100 Greatest Heavy Metal Guitarists of All Time.”
3. The Bambir
The band from the Armenian city of Gyumri has been around for 40 years, and over the course of its turbulent performance career more than 50 musicians partook in its work. Jag Barseghyan established the group in 1970s and its repertoire includes original tracks, traditional Armenian songs and modern interpretations of medieval folk music and compositions by Komitas. Today the sons of the band’s original members keep the rock-n-roll spirit of their fathers alive.
4. Derek Sherinian
An American-born musician, Sherinian has worked as a keyboard player with rock stars like Alice Cooper and Billy Idol. Derek Sherinian embraces an aggressive, “guitar-like” approach to keyboard performances and has frequently appeared on the covers of niche music industry magazines, including Keyboard, which dubbed Sherinian a “keyboard hero for a new generation.”
5. Deti Picasso
This Budapest-based Armenian group performs some very unusual music: head-spinning and sharp, hypnotically energetic, with strong ethnic roots. The original adaptations of ancient Armenian chants and Gaya Arutyunyan’s expressive vocals are softened by tender notes of harp and guitar.
6. Mt. Helium
A rock power trio from Los Angeles, California, formerly known as The Apex Theory. The band was formed in Los Angeles in 1999 by American-born Armenian musicians Ontronik (Andy) Khachaturian, Art Karamian and David Hakopyan. In 2004 the band released an EP titled inthatskyissomethingwatching, and soon after that changed its name to Mt. Helium.
One of the most prominent bands of the Russian rock scene, famous for its virtuoso performances and lyrics permeated with irony. The band was formed in Moscow in 1983, but even today, more than 30 years later, it continues touring in post-Soviet countries, the Netherlands, Israel and the United States. The group’s frontman and principal songwriter is Armen Grigoryan.
An American rock band with a very distinct sound that comes from blending oud and percussion with more conventional rock instruments such as guitar, bass and drums. The band is constantly experimenting, mixing Armenian and Greek styles with elements of modern aggressive rock and folk music.
9. Hayko Cepkin
A Turkish musician of Armenian descent, the graduate of Istanbul’s Getronagan Armenian High School, an alma mater for many other notable Armenians, including poet Misak Metsarents, linguist Hrachia Adjarian and photographer Ara Guler. Hayko’s music is a mix of different cultures: his rock has an Oriental spirit enriched with Western drive.
10. Red Snow
One would be hard-pressed to meet the band members at any high-profile social event, but this relatively young Hollywood-based team already has an army of fans. Red Snow uses the power of the Internet to spread its uncompromising hardcore rock sound through Los Angeles and looks forward to conquering the world.
11. Danny Bedrosian
The American-born Armenian pianist, keyboardist, composer and vocalist was the principal keyboard player for George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic (also known as P-Funk), a band inducted into the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2015 Bedrosian organized the first performance of his Armenian Music Ensemble. The concert, dedicated to the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide, was a two-hour-long masterpiece encompassing 3,400 years of Armenian history and polished with a small lecture by Bedrosian himself.
12. Stas Namin
A Russian musician of Armenian descent, composer, artist, director, founder and producer of the Flowers rock band, Stas Namin is primarily known in the world as the producer of the Gorky Park rock band.
Armenian-American metal band from Los Angeles is famous for its lively combinations of progressive and classical hard rock and metal.
14. The Beautified Project
The English-language melancholic alternative rock band was formed in London in 2005 by singer/songwriter Andre Simonian. The band is among the most popular modern groups in Armenia with a dedicated following among teenage girls.
15. Serj Tankian
Tankian, a native of Lebanon and arguably the world’s most famous Armenian rock musician gained fame as a leading vocalist, songwriter, keyboardist and rhythm guitarist of System of a Down, but has some other interesting projects as well. Over the course of his impressive career Tankian released five albums as part of System of a Down, one in cooperation with Arto Tunçboyacıyan and five solo records.