If you follow the celestial cycles, an important season is on the horizon. The Full Sturgeon Moon, the time when sturgeon are most easily caught, is almost upon us — and the Honeysuckle Tea House is putting on a show to celebrate.
Singer and songwriter Saman Khoujinian will perform as Turkish Gold Standard this Saturday at the Full Sturgeon Moon Party. Staff writer Chadwick Dunefsky talked to Khoujinian about his music and getting back into it after taking a break from performing.
The Daily Tar Heel: Can you tell me a little bit about how your band started and what your role is in it?
Saman Khoujinian: Turkish Gold Standard is just sort of the name that I play under right now for a lot of solo gigs and a bunch of new tunes that I’m writing — different from the things that I’ve worked on in the past for the most part. And the lineup really changes. I’m the songwriter and singer and I play guitar for the most part in that band — acoustic and electric.
DTH: Can you tell me more about the kinds of lyrics that you write?
SK: They sort of run the gamut of possibility. Some of them are kind of introspective forays into, “Why do I feel the way I feel when I feel that way?” — not good or bad — and then some of them are just about situations I’ve encountered in the past.
A lot of it has to do with just sort of — I pretty explicitly ask questions in the lyrics. Songwriting is not about a means to finding an answer for me, but just about expanding the number and scope of questions I might be able to ask.
DTH: What do you want audience members to get out of your music this weekend?
SK: The interesting thing is, it’s potentially less about deep listening and more about me providing a decent listening environment for people to enjoy themselves in. But if they were going to sit down and take a minute to listen, I would just hope they like the music.
It’s silly to say you make music for just yourself. If you’re going to play it out in public, you’re clearly doing it for others, too. So I hope they enjoy it in any number of ways.
But I guess I haven’t really played out in a long time. I played in a bunch of bands in college and I just graduated, but I hadn’t played out. And I’m only just recently getting back into it because I went to see a few of my friends play, and I was really inspired to do it again. And I hope if there’s anyone going through the same thing I was, I hope they can see what I’m doing and go out and do it again.
DTH: How did you get back into playing and find venues to perform?
SK: You know, just the usual way — if there’s a friend who needs somebody to open the show or a collaborator. The real way I got back into it was Grant Golden, this promoter around town, had asked me to do a monthly residency at The Station in Carrboro.
DTH: What do you feel is the role of music in the local community in Chapel Hill and Carrboro?
SK: I think local music is great. I think there’s a need there, and maybe it’s because I’ve been I’m getting more involved again, and I’ve also just taken a very small break, but it just seems like a lot of folks are putting out music I care about and music I’m able to get behind.
It’s really invigorating to listen to music of people I see on a daily basis outside music and really have it move me, so that’s really cool. And also I think a lot of folks here who are doing good work get a little more extra-local recognition from outside the community, which is always cool to see. Because I know a lot of folks around here make their living from music, or are trying to make their living from music, and if that’s what you’re into, it’s great when you can make it work for yourself.
DTH: Is there anything you can tell me about the meaning of your band name?
SK: It’s funny, It happened because I was at a rehearsal for another band I was playing with a little while ago. I don’t fully remember, but I do remember one instance of how it came to be, which was a friend of mine was smoking a Turkish Gold cigarette — or maybe I was smoking it. Probably me. And I think I just said “Turkish Gold Standard.” So there’s my exciting story about how the band name came to be.
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