Another Milestone

Yesterday; August 20, 2018, was my dad Hagop Hagopian’s 75th birthday. Also yesterday, I achieved another major milestone in my musical career, with the release of the second full length studio album of the Semantic Saturation musical project that I independently founded back in 2010; of course this was no coincidence. Allow me to take a moment here to acknowledge the support and encouragement I have received from my father and mother Vartoug Hagopian all these years, since my childhood; without whom I wouldn’t be doing what I do today.

I’m Armenian, but I grew up and spent 25 years of my life in a community and a country (Syria) where the style of music I play isn’t well perceived, regarded as disgraceful, outrageous and revolting, and mostly neglected by the majority. A society, in which growing your hair as a man or wearing piercings are considered offensive, and a violation against their archaic beliefs.
People fear what they cannot understand.

I’ve been harassed, I’ve been mocked and ridiculed for what I wear, asked to cut my hair, to “behave” and “grow up”, the music I make has been disrespected, ignored and disregarded by a lot of people right in front of me, including some who were very close to me, but never ever by my parents; they were always supportive, backing and guiding me to overcome and conquer the storm, to weed through the noise and rise high on top.

Today is another day, where once again I smash my hammer (and balls) of steel in the faces of all those who belong to the inferior group of people mentioned above, and add another nail to their coffin. All thanks go to my lovely fans who keep supporting and motivating me throughout this journey. I’ve been receiving so many touching and beautiful messages from a lot of you and I am ever grateful to learn that my music has changed your lives and inspired so many of you.

Love you all

Special Guest: Derek Sherinian

Yesterday in Sons of Apollo, today in Semantic Saturation. None other than your beloved keyboard virtuoso Derek Sherinian will be the special guest one more time on the new album “Paradigms”

Derek is extremely excited to be part of the new release, he is constantly following up with me on the progress. His keyboard parts are delicious and will make your face melt, I know cause it happened to me and I paid a fortune to have it fixed by a plastic surgeon.

I will announce the bass player next week. Stay tuned!


A Musician Responds to a Production Company’s Request to Use His Music for Free.

For some, years and years of practising and mastering the art of music doesn’t really amount to anything. Not to mention the thousands spent on our instruments and gear.

This needs to be shared on every musician’s blog.

Here’s a transcript of the response. See original screenshot of email response at the bottom of this post.


Hello Zoe

Firstly, there is no label – I outright own my material, so I’m not sure who you’ve been emailing.

Secondly, I am sick to death of your hollow schtick, of the inevitable line “Unfortunately there’s no budget for music”, as if some fixed Law of the Universe handed you down a sad but immutable financial verdict preventing you from budgeting to pay for music. Your company set out the budget. So you have chosen to allocate no money for music. I get begging letters like this every week – from a booming, affluent global media industry.

Why is this? Lets look at who we both are.

I am a professional musician, who lives from his music. It took me half a lifetime to learn the skills, years to claw my way up the structure, to the point where a stranger like you will write to me. This music is my hard earned property. I’ve licensed music to some of the biggest shows, brands, games and TV production companies on Eart; from Breaking Bad to the Sopranos, from Cocoa Cola to Visa, HBO to Rockstar Games.

Ask yourself – would you approach a Creative or a Director with a resume like that – and in one flippant sentence ask them to work for nothing? Of course not. Because your industry has a precedent of paying these people, of valuing their work.

Or would you walk into someone’s home, eat from their bowl, and walkout smiling, saying “so sorry, I’ve no budget for food”? Of course you would not. Because culturally, we classify that as theft.

Yet the culturally ingrained disdain for the musician that riddles your profession, leads you to fleece the music angle whenever possible. You will without question hey everyone connected to a shoot from the caterer to the grips of the extra even the cleaner who mocked your set and scrub the toilets after the shoot will get paid. The musician? Give him nothing.

Now let’s look at you. A quick glance at your website –[1] – reveals a variety of well-known, internationally syndicated reality programmes. You are a successful, financially solvent and globally recognized company with a string of hit shows. Working on multiple series in close cooperation with Channel 4, from a West London office, with a string of awards under your belt. You have real money, to pretend otherwise is an insult.

Yet you send me the shabby request – give me your property, for free. Just give us what you own, we want it.

The answer is a resounding, and permanent NO.

I will now post this on my sites, forward this to several key online music sources and blogs, encourage people to re-blog this. I want to see a public discussion began about this kind of industry abuse of musicians… This was one e-mail too far for me. Enough. I’m sick of you

NJ White

A musician's response to a production company

Definition of Prog

One of my fans Andrew Grabowska is writing a speech about progressive rock and metal for his class, he chose me as his source and I’m quite honored.

He wanted answers to some of his questions:

  1. Why do you listen to/enjoy progressive metal and rock?
  2. Why did you chose to write and play it?
  3. Is there anything else you think is important about progressive rock and metal in comparison to other genres?

Well, below was my reply.

I started playing guitar when I was 15, and we played and covered a diversity of metal songs from different bands with my previous band Nu.Clear.Dawn.

At some point I was almost finding heavy metal sounding a bit boring to me, specially the standard song structures, verse chorus verse chorus solo chorus, also the regular guitar chords. I mean don’t get me wrong here, there are a lot of great metal bands out there that I enjoyed playing and listening to and still do sometimes, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Scorpions, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Iced Earth.. The is pretty much endless but still something was missing for me, perhaps the fun factor.

When I first got into prog, it was mostly Dream Theater and Rush that I listened to, and what got me into Dream Theater was Pink Floyd, when Dream Theater covered for Pink Floyd in A Change of Seasons, and how I got into Pink Floyd is quite the story.

Now why do I enjoy listening to prog? The song structures are different, sometimes there’s no chorus at all, sometimes very short lyrics, sometimes long intros, so there’s always the element of surprise, the music is diverse as well, different melodies, different moods, different builds in one track, odd time signatures, and of course some tracks are long which allows for instrumental sections, I just love how everyone in the band could get to solo at some point, in the end the band is not only the singer and then the rest of the band. It’s the singer, the guitarist, the drummer, the bassist, and everyone has their moment to shine.

It pretty much goes the same when it comes to writing and playing progressive music, plus, playing progressive rock is a lot of fun it’s almost like a video game, as a guitarist your left hand and fingers need to move around and hit the right notes on the fretboard while your brain is getting ready to play the next part in the song which is completely a new section, and it keeps progressing!
The chords sound a lot wider, jazzy, each position gives you a different mood, unlike the regular power chord that’s pretty much what every metal song is made of, why play the same four boring chords over and over and wait for the song to be over?

The same applies to everyone else in the band, the drummer has to remember all these odd time signatures and not mess up, and that’s where the fun is. Playing 4/4 time signature gets very old specially for a drummer. When you’re playing a progressive song you have to keep going, the band keeps going, the song keeps going and the melodies and harmonies unite to create an epic song. If you mess up you’re back to the last checkpoint, and keep practicing until you can play the whole thing in one shot, like a pro!

A lot of people think that playing prog is very hard. I almost thought the same, before I first picked up my guitar and tried to play a Dream Theater song, lucky for me I had the transcribed notes and guitar tabs for the song, so I started to learn the parts and I was surprised how extremely easy and fun some sections were to play, despite how difficult they sounded. (Check out guitar tabs and jam tracks from Solipsistic)

You don’t have to be a highly technical musician to play progressive rock or progressive metal, and all new prog bands are missing the point nowadays, they put everything they know in one song, like showing off their muscles.

Music is NOT a race, music is NOT a competition, music is art.

Now tell me why do YOU like prog?