Although only 19, Arsun has the musical talent of some of the greatest musicians of our time. This is easy to hear though his raw, yet poetic sound and Arsun’s music can be described as being somewhere between an old-style Bob Dylan and a new day Kurt Vile. We spoke to the New York resident about his love of the vintage (which are real reasons, and not just because of the trend), working on his new single and touring with Cat Power.
What were your first thoughts this morning?
I woke up really wanting a coffee this morning.
How would you describe your music?
I’d describe it as rock music that takes elements from a lot of different areas including country, folk, jazz, and other genres. It’s based largely off of music spanning from the 1950s to the mid-70s.
Who has influenced you most in your sound?
The Velvet Underground, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan have influenced me very heavily.
You grew up in New York, what was that like?
I think it’s great. New York is my favourite place in the world and I’m very thankful to have grown up here.
Tell us about your single Send Her My Way?
It’s about a man telling a stranger to keep an eye out for his love and, if he sees her, to send her back to him. Which is kinda funny because if a stranger said that to you on the street, you’d think he’s a crazy person because you don’t know him or his lost love. But what I think is kinda cool about the song is that the image of a drunken deranged rambler is juxtaposed with the regal sound of the strings and grand images of leading horses down New York streets. So, you can see two sides of the story. The stranger seeing the protagonist as a deranged rambler or the protagonist seeing himself as a valiant man trying to regain lost love.
How did you get inspiration for this?
I had been listening to a lot of Bob Dylan at the time and was pretty obsessed with his lyrics (I still am). In a way I kinda just played Bob Dylan songs until I accidentally wrote Send Her My Way.
You originally recorded the single at home, which then got picked up on and produced a bit more. How did that come about?
I had just bought a tape machine from the 60s and I was just messing around recording a couple songs. One of the songs that I ended up recording on it was Send Her My Way and I really liked the performance and my producer named Oliver said that he really liked it as well. So, I digitized the tape and brought it to his studio called Holy Fang and we put the strings, bass, keys and some other stuff on it and mixed it there as well.
What was it like working with the producer Oliver Ignatius?
It’s really great. He knows how to play every instrument, he knows all about the recording of pretty much all music from every time period, and he’s just very skilled with recording. He has a great ear for music and our musical interests align very well. It’s a pleasure to have him as a producer engineer and bandmate (he plays keyboards).
You have spoken about your dream being to create something musically that replicates the 60’s. Why is that?
I’m not really interested in replicating 60s music, I’m more interested in taking the elements I like about it and using it.
For example, I don’t record on analog equipment because I think it’s retro and cool, I just think the sound of it is very musical and special.
Music aside, what is your favourite thing about the 60s?
I really like the movies from that time like ‘the good the bad and the ugly’ for example. I think it looks stunning and the stories were really great. I may love that movie so much though because the sound track by Ennio Morricone is incredible.
And what are the best things about life today?
Life today is amazing because technology is so versatile that I can explore musical routes that people couldn’t even dream of in the past. Also sharing music is so open that you can hear what people are playing in places you never even knew existed with just the click of a link. The world is becoming so advanced so quickly it’s exciting to see where we’ll take technology in my life time.
You toured with Cat Power late last year. What was that like?
It was easily the biggest step for me as a musician so far and it was definitely one of the most wild experiences of my life. Playing in front of so many people, experiencing a tour and hanging out with cat power was all so exciting. Chan Marshall is also just the kindest person, so she really included us and made us feel welcome with her. The entire experience an honour.
What was the best thing about touring?
Playing in front of the crowds and getting to share my music with so many people.
And the worst?
We rented an RV to live on while we were touring, and it was a disaster. The septic tank started leaking at one point and flooded the floor of the RV which attracted flies, then on top of it the refrigerator door fell off and the side of the RV started leaking water. The RV was a nightmare. But luckily it was only one really hellish day before we had it switched out.
We were so in awe of the tour it barely phased us.
What does this year hold for you?
A lot more music and hopefully a lot of shows as well.
Catch with Arsun through his Instagram.
Credit to Tasmin Meyer Ersahin for photgraghs.