Born Armik Dashchi, c. 1950s, in Iran; son of Armenian parents; married Annette Dashchi, c. 1981. Addresses: Record company--Bolero Records, 18653 Ventura Blvd., Suite #314, Tarzana, CA 91356. Website--Armik Official Website: http://www.armik.com.
As a leader in the nuevo flamenco movement, Armik has contributed a solid body of work to its sound. His virtuosic abilities span a wide range of styles, all of which mix easily together. He fluidly combines elements of jazz, flamenco, and classical guitar with a Latin flare. His love for the music he plays is evident in the care he takes in choosing the right guitar from his extensive collection. His dedication to production values emphasizes the emotional aspect of the music. His fans span the world from Australia to the United States to Iran. Since his debut in 1994, he has carved a niche for himself in the New Age market and he seems poised to continue attracting new fans the world over.
Born Armik Dashchi to Armenian parents in Iran, Armik has had a lifelong love of the guitar. When he was seven years old, he traded his watch for a classical guitar. He spent weeks hiding his new treasure. His family was unaware of Armik's passion until they discovered him practicing in the basement of the family home; by that time, he was proficient. He quickly taught himself to sight-read music. At age 12 he began a career performing professionally for recording studios. At that young age he was able to perform and read difficult musical passages.
Armik spent the 1960s and 1970s mostly playing jazz. He also contributed to the recordings of a couple of Iran's most famous performers, including Googoosh, one of the most popular female Iranian singers during the 1970s. He also performed on many recordings of Dariush, a popular male singer. During that time, Armik also gave guitar lessons.
During the 1970s, Armik traveled to Spain frequently to study music. While there he attended a performance of renowned flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia. Hearing de Lucia play inspired Armik to take up flamenco guitar himself. He told Ernesto Lechner of the Los Angeles Times, "My opinion of what a guitar was supposed to sound like changed that day." He immediately bought his own flamenco guitar and dedicated himself to the form. He explained on his website, "When I first touched a flamenco guitar and heard the sound, I realized I could talk through my instrument."
After Iran's 1979 revolution, the new fundamentalist Islamic government outlawed music. Armik decided to leave the country. His identity as an Armenian, a Christian, and a musician left him feeling out of place under the strictly Muslim code of living enforced during that time. Armik would have faced many difficulties if he had tried to stay in Iran.
In 1981 Armik ended up in Los Angeles. At this time, he began his career as a session musician. During the next decade, he played on more than 10,000 sessions. He supplemented his income by giving guitar lessons. Even though he was making a living as a session musician, Armik was determined to launch a solo career. He had the support of his wife, Annette, a woman he had met upon moving to Los Angeles. He was also encouraged by those around him who continually asked him when he would release a solo album.
In 1994 Armik released his first solo album, Rain Dancer. The album spent weeks on Billboard's Top New Age Albums chart, rising to the number nine position. Many of the recordings from the album were picked up by radio stations that play exclusively instrumental music. This exposure helped develop a fan base that has continued to grow worldwide with each album he releases.
His second album was released in 1995 and met with a similarly positive reaction. Strong sales of Gypsy Flame put Armik on Billboard's New Age charts once again. The album reached gold status in Australia, where Armik continues to be extremely popular. Each of the pieces on the album is an original composition. The album reflects the breadth of Armik's abilities, as he was able to meld jazz with Spanish ballads and South American rhythms.
One of the trademarks of Armik's albums is his recording style--he records each composition in one take. Unlike many other artists, he does not overdub his recordings. He explained to Australia's ABC Newcastle website, "You lose the emotion and feeling when you work that way, and emotion is very important to me and my music." He is also careful to choose the right guitar for each piece. All of his guitars come from Spain, and many of them have been handmade for him by Pedro Maldonado, a respected instrument maker.
In 1996 Armik released his third album, Rubia. The title comes from an instrument that Maldonado designed specifically for Armik. Out of appreciation for the instrument and the work that went into it, Armik composed two works, "Rubia" and "Maldonado." This album, like his others, made a place for itself on Billboard's listing for the top New Age albums.
His 1997 album, Malaga, took a more experimental approach. Although it failed to rise as high on the Billboard charts as his other albums had, Armik was pleased with the results. He felt he had expanded his sound while retaining his recognizable style. He said on his website, "When people hear my music they say 'this is Armik,' because the sounds and the rhythms are different [from those of other musicians]. That's how I like it."
His next two albums, the 1999 release Isla del Sol and the 2001 release Rosas del Amor, returned to the charts. In late 2002 he released yet another album, Lost in Paradise. His popularity among adult audiences remains strong. In Australia, retailers know that Armik is a draw for older listeners who are attracted to the easy listening aspect of Armik's compositions. They use his albums to draw people into their stores.
Armik continues to impress audiences worldwide with his compositions. When he performs, he uses a backup band for part of the concert. Once he has played these pieces, he dedicates a portion of the concert to his solo flamenco work. His unique style contributes to the nuevo flamenco body of work, introducing the traditional Spanish music of flamenco to new and eager audiences.
by Eve M. B. Hermann
Began playing guitar, age seven; studied classical guitar through childhood; began peforming professionally, age 12; played on popular Iranian recordings for singers Googoosh and Dariush, 1970s; began studying flamenco guitar, 1970s; became session musician in Los Angeles, 1981; launched solo career with release of first album, Rain Dancer, 1994.
- Selected discography
- Rain Dancer , Baja, 1994.
- Gypsy Flame , Baja/TSR, 1995.
- Rubia , TSR, 1996.
- Malaga , TSR, 1997.
- Isla del Sol , Baja, 1999.
- Rosas del Amor , Baja, 2001.
- Lost in Paradise , Paras/Bolero, 2002.
- Los Angeles Times, March 17, 2000, p. B6.
- "Armik--Rosas del Amor," ABC Newcastle, http://www.abc.net.au/newcastle/stories/s483661.htm (October 28, 2002).
- Armik Official Website, http://www.armik.com/ (October 28, 2002).