Rostam Batmanglij was barely out of college when his band Vampire Weekend became indie-rock superstars. Their 2008 self-titled debut album, which Batmanglij produced in makeshift studios he assembled in his and his friends apartments, not only put them on the mapit signaled the arrival of a musical wunderkind who would later lend his wistful melodies and sophisticated instrumentation to tracks by artists like Solange, Frank Ocean, and Haim. Having left the group last year, Batmanglij is now embarking on his own journey, releasing his first solo record under the name Rostam. An adventurous collection of buoyant, worldly pop songs, Half-Light (out September 8) finds the queer Iranian-American songwriter reflecting on love, longing, and double lives. Batmanglij recently spoke with his queer brother, Zal, the director and co-creator of the Netflix fantasy series The OA, for which Rostam composed the theme song.
Zal Batmanglij: Whats your earliest memory of music?
Rostam Batmanglij: I definitely remember wanting to hear the Beatles song Taxman over and overneeding to hear it. I also remember watching Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs as a kid and theyd play classical pieces and Id wait until the end to see if they listed the piece and try to find it.
ZB: So youd focus on the credits to find out what the pieces were, and then ask Dad to buy you those CDs?
ZB: Wow, we grew up in a small townhouse, and I did not know that about you. But I feel like a lot of your relationship to music was very private.
RB: Yeah, music was sacred. I have memories of waiting for everyone to leave the house so I could be alone and play those CDs loudwhich kind of foreshadowed a life alone in a studio listening to loud music. [Laughs.]
ZB: You produced all three Vampire Weekend albums and have collaborated with a lot of peopleCharli XCX, Carly Rae Jepsen, Frank Ocean. So what does being a music producer mean?
RB: In some ways it means having a vision for a song, or a shared vision for the song with the artist, and helping them realize it. Ill do all kinds of different things to get thereplugging in a guitar and putting completely different chords under an existing song, or composing a drumbeat that becomes the song. One of the things I love about being a producer is trying to get more from singers voices than they maybe thought was possible. I love Haims ability to sing in harmony, so on Walking Away, one of the songs I produced on their new record [Something to Tell You], I really tried to push that to the fore. There are about 50 to 100 vocal tracks in that song, and its all the sisters singing different, interlocking parts, and at the same time theres this emotional power to each of their voices.
ZB: I was driving at maybe two in the morning two days ago through these windy L.A. streets with the windows down, and Gwan, a track from your new album, Half-Light, came on, and it was perfectly matched to the drive and the mood I was in. Does mood mean something to you?
RB: Yes. And there are a bunch of different ways to access moodthe reverb you use, the kind of chords. Studying music you discover the hundred gradations between a happy chord and a sad chord. Im always processing those possibilities. If we go to this chord, what will the feeling be? How does that interact with the lyrics? Can I ask the artist to change that word?
ZB: When I was driving I wasnt thinking, Thats my brother. I didnt feel a personal connection. I felt a connection to the words and the longingthis otherness thats on other tracks on your album. I connect to that otherness.
RB: Thats a big part of the record, but its hard to talk about in some ways. I want people to come to it on their own.
ZB: Whats the role of music in todays political climate?
RB: With a lot of songs on this album, specifically Bike Dream, I wanted the lyrics to act as a sort of Trojan horse, where if you wanted to interpret the song from a queer perspective you could. Theres a lyric in the chorus, Two boys: one to love you sweetly, one does so discreetly. What I loved when I wrote that was that it felt like you could interpret it as actually being about one person whos being asked to be two different people. I think thats something we as queer people, Middle Eastern people, and children of immigrants in America have experienced a lot. Were seeing those kind of politics play out… But I cant help but be optimistic.
ZB:Yes. One of my favorite songs on the album is When. Theres something really hopeful about it.
RB:I look back at my 20s, when I was figuring out what kind of person I wanted to be and overcoming obstacles I dont think I was even aware of. Theres a recurring theme on the album of waking up, sometimes with somebody and sometimes on your own. The wordhalf-lightrefers to both dusk and dawn, and some of the lyrics connect to that moment when the sun is coming in through the window, or that feeling when the day is ending and you have to take stock of what happened and think about the next day.
ZB:Who are your musical heroes?
RB:Brian Eno is an important one for me. Theres a quality of searching in a lot of his music, but hes not searching for something that isnt available to anyone, or to everyone. Theres an openness to his music I identify withI want to make music everyone can arrive at.
ZB:Talk to me about how you createdthe theme forThe OA.
RB:The call came in for a violin piece, and I immediately thought,I want to write a melody with some drama built into it.I think the way I got there was by having these big melodic leaps. You know, the melody jumps up a fifth and then a sixth, and then it goes down. Its not really climbing upwardsits leaping.
ZB:At the screening at the Vista Theatre in Silver Lake, when the opening credits came up in the show 57 minutes in, and the OA is starting her story, and the camera pans over Russia, and your piece starts… I mean, there was spontaneous applause. I thought,Thats Rostam.
RB:It was a fun piece. I think I knew Id done a good job when I visited you on set and one of the crew guys was whistling the theme.
- Vampire - Monsters - D&D Beyond - January 9th, 2019
- Vampire | Vampire Knight Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia - November 13th, 2018
- Vampire | Warhammer Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia - November 10th, 2018
- The Sun for the Vampire - Play it now at Coolmath-Games.com - November 10th, 2018
- The Vampire (1957) - IMDb - November 2nd, 2018
- The 50 Best Vampire Movies of All Time - CRAVE - October 31st, 2018
- Vampire - MTG Wiki - October 5th, 2018
- Vampire Rave is for Real Vampires - September 24th, 2018
- Caroline Forbes | The Vampire Diaries Wiki | FANDOM ... - September 18th, 2018
- Spike | Buffyverse Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia - September 18th, 2018
- Welcome - Camping Vampire Bran - September 7th, 2018
- Vampire (WOD) | White Wolf | FANDOM powered by Wikia - August 13th, 2018
- Vampire films - Wikipedia - August 2nd, 2018
- Clan | Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines Wiki | FANDOM ... - July 30th, 2018
- Vampire | Charmed | FANDOM powered by Wikia - July 5th, 2018
- Vampire Facelift | Reviews - June 29th, 2018
- Vampire | D&D 5th Edition on Roll20 Compendium - June 18th, 2018
- Real / Living Vampire Glossary of Terminology - HuffPost - September 7th, 2017
- Twilight vampire sheds his heartthrob image - Helena Independent Record - September 7th, 2017
- 'Vampire Diaries' actor Michael Malarkey debuts haunting new album, 'Mongrels'exclusive - Alternative Press - September 7th, 2017
- Are vampires real, do they really drink human blood and how many ... - The Sun - September 7th, 2017
- New Genetic Discovery Explains The Skin-Blistering 'Vampire' Disease - ScienceAlert - September 7th, 2017
- Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig is apparently making an anime for ... - AV Club - September 6th, 2017
- Ex-Vampire Weekender Rostam Batmanglij Finds Fresh Ways to Subvert Pop - L.A. Weekly - September 6th, 2017
- Rostam Finds His Own Voice On The Tender New Single 'Half-Light' - UPROXX - September 6th, 2017
- Vampire Weekend's Ezra Koenig announces an anime series for Netflix - The Daily Dot - September 6th, 2017
- Vampire - Manga - MyAnimeList.net - September 6th, 2017
- Joe Arpaio is a vampire that feeds on Mexicans (AKA Tlahuelpuchi) - Oaklandpostonline - September 6th, 2017
- A homeless wannabe vampire ripped off a pigeon's head and chugged its blood - Rare.us - September 2nd, 2017
- Nina Dobrev Spreads Positive Messages About Beauty On Social ... - moviepilot.com - September 2nd, 2017
- A break from the usual bloodsuckers - Harvard Gazette - September 2nd, 2017
- The Vampire Diaries' Penelope Mitchell Joins Hellboy Reboot - Dread Central - September 1st, 2017
- Harvard Film Archive to host vampire movie marathon over Labor Day weekend - The Boston Globe - September 1st, 2017
- Chosen One of the Day: the mullets of The Lost Boys - SYFY WIRE (blog) - August 31st, 2017
- Homeless man claiming to be vampire rips pigeon's head off, drinks blood in Bryant Park - New York Daily News - August 31st, 2017
- Maniac beheads pigeons, drinks their blood in crowded park - New York Post - August 31st, 2017
- Hellboy Reboot Casts Vampire Diaries Alum Penelope Mitchell - CBR (blog) - August 31st, 2017
- Hellboy adds The Vampire Diaries actress Penelope Mitchell - Yahoo Movies UK - August 31st, 2017
- Como jugar blackjack en casa - Vampire weekend casino de paris - Forward Florida - August 30th, 2017
- 'Vampire Diaries' star Nina Dobrev gets candid on going makeup-free, current politic climate: 'It scares me' - Fox News - August 28th, 2017
- Is Darren Aronofsky's 'mother!' a Vampire Movie? - Bloody Disgusting - August 26th, 2017
- Star Trek Writers to Adapt A People's History of the Vampire Uprising - Den of Geek US - August 24th, 2017
- Chosen One of the Day: the many, many pants of Buffy the Vampire Slayer - SYFY WIRE (blog) - August 24th, 2017
- Nina Dobrev Just Had A Low-Key "Vampire Diaries" Reunion - TeenVogue.com - August 24th, 2017
- This New Podcast About Melbourne's Vampire Gigolo Murder Will Make You Question Everything - Triple M - August 24th, 2017
- My Pretty Vampire's Cartoonish Violence - The Portland Mercury - August 24th, 2017
- "Vampire Princess Miyu" Character Designer's Lithograph Exhibition Coming This Fall - Crunchyroll News - August 24th, 2017
- Matthew Goode to Play Lead Vampire in 'A Discovery of Witches' - Anglophenia - August 24th, 2017
- JD Payne & Patrick McKay Bite Into Fox & 21 Laps' 'A People's History Of The Vampire Uprising' - Deadline - August 22nd, 2017
- Suck city: Movie brings old vampire to New York Brooklyn Daily - Brooklyn Daily - August 22nd, 2017
- Vampire Diaries Ian Somerhalder gushes over wife Nikki after giving birth - Her.ie - August 22nd, 2017
- Buffy The Vampire Slayer Creator Joss Whedon's Ex-Wife Blasts Him For Cheating Throughout Their 16-Year Marriage - Bravo (blog) - August 22nd, 2017
- Marshfield 'vampire killer' loses suit against Parole Board - The Patriot Ledger - August 20th, 2017
- University's vampire expert faces employment tribunal after 'he tasted a female student's blood' - The Sun - August 20th, 2017
- New 'Firefly,' 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' Collectible Box Sets Announced - Geeks of Doom - August 19th, 2017
- Nina Dobrev explains why she left 'Vampire Diaries' - ABC News - August 17th, 2017
- 'Carmilla' Takes a Bite Out of Period Vampire Lore - Bloody Disgusting - August 17th, 2017
- Kate Beckinsale not a vampire this time (but, oh, those leather pants) - Sentinel & Enterprise - August 17th, 2017
- Vampire Vs. Climate Change Deniers Dark Fang - Comics Beat - August 17th, 2017
- 'The Vampire Diaries' new spinoff series now in talks, The CW president reveals - Blasting News - August 17th, 2017
- [Review Repost] Michael O'Shea's 'The Transfiguration' is a Refreshing and Moving Vampire Tale - Bloody Disgusting - August 16th, 2017
- A Vampire's Fight Against Global Warming & Oil Industry In IMAGE's DARK FANG - Newsarama - August 16th, 2017
- The Vampire Diaries boss to direct episode of Riverdale - EW.com (blog) - August 14th, 2017
- Vampire Comedy 'Bite Me': A Love Song to the Weirdos - IndieWire - August 13th, 2017
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon and brunch happening in Glasgow tomorrow - Glasgow Live - August 13th, 2017
- The Vampire Diaries actor Ian Somerhalder and wife Nikki Reed blessed with a baby girl - India Today - August 11th, 2017
- 'The Vampire Diaries' Ian Somerhalder & Nikki Reed enjoy new daughter privately - Blasting News - August 11th, 2017
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer at 25: Where Is the Cast Now? - Parade - August 11th, 2017
- FREE VAMPIRE XXX VIDEOS & VAMP SEX TUBE MOVIES - August 11th, 2017
- James Marsters explains why 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' is this generation's 'Star Trek' - Metro US - August 10th, 2017
- Demon Hunter Sounds Like Vampire Hunter DWith Some Caveats - Dread Central - August 10th, 2017
- Katie Skelly Combines Cute Art with Sexy Horror in My Pretty Vampire - CBR (blog) - August 10th, 2017
- Fox retooling high-concept vampire pilot The Passage for Fall 2018 - SYFY WIRE (blog) - August 10th, 2017
- Sorry Fellas, But 'Vampire Diaries' Star Nina Dobrev Is Dating Someone and He's Super Cute! - Life & Style Weekly - August 8th, 2017
- Rostam Talks 'Launching a Whole Universe' With New Solo LP - RollingStone.com - August 8th, 2017
- Broken hand and dislocated elbow puts paid to The Vampire's MMA Bantamweight title bid - New Straits Times Online - August 6th, 2017
- First Look at Vampire Comedy Vidar the Vampire - Dread Central - August 4th, 2017
- Vampire Diaries Fans Are Getting ANOTHER Spin-Off - Hit 107 - August 4th, 2017
- 5 things to know, and when you can visit Vampire Penguin in Granite Bay - Sacramento Business Journal - August 4th, 2017
- 'The Lost Boys,' Found: How a Teen Vampire Movie Rose From the Dead To Become a Cult Classic - Decider - August 3rd, 2017
Reviewed and Recommended by Erik Baquero