AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND, April 21, 2009 — System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian recently took the stage with the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra (APO) to reinterpret his first solo album, Elect the Dead, a pairing that presented the arrangements quite differently from those heard on the record.
"My belief is that music is a universal medium," Tankian said not long ago, perhaps offering at least a glimmer of insight into his performance with the APO. "It's a wave. It's an energy. And, it's a way for us to communicate. I think music comes from the universe, and it's not something that songwriters create. At best, we're skilled presenters."
Performing live, Tankian has swept the clutter of cables out of his life, choosing Shure wireless products for everything from his guitar and vocals to in-ear personal monitors.
"I like to move around a lot onstage, so being wireless is extremely important," he explains. "I've got it on my in-ears, and making that transition was amazing. As a singer, you can't hear a certain frequency of your own voice onstage, especially with a really loud band. System was deafening. The Who might have the loudest stage volume, but I think we came in a close second or third. Using Shure PSM® 600s helped me define the instruments and hear my own voice better in my mix, so even if I sang low I could still hear myself within that whole huge stage volume swelling up all around."
Beyond his PSM® 600 system, Tankian confides that he has used and still uses a lot of Shure mics, ranging from the venerable SM58® and SM57 on up to the KSM9. KSM44s are a favorite too, and saw use on Elect the Dead on his guitar cabinets.
With growing numbers of aspiring musicians looking to Tankian as a role model and for inspiration, the artist feels that "As far as performances go, I always say you have to be yourself onstage, and you have to project that sense of self beyond your physical surroundings into a bigger space. You have to make people feel something that's true to you and them as well. You have to have that connection, and that's what a performance is."
Currently, Tankian is at work on a second solo album due out later this year.