Special for the Armenian Weekly
Los Angeles-based actor and hip-hop artist Nazo Bravo (Naz Aslanian) released the first episode of a documentary web series titled “Armenian American” on Feb. 11 on his YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/NazoBravo). The series follows Aslanian on his recent trip to Armenia, as he explores Yerevan, meets with musicians, spends time with family, and is interviewed by local media outlets.
“I was able to spend time with family out there, see the neighborhood where my parents grew up, and also experience an entirely different side with all of the interviews and networking I did in the entertainment business out there.”
The trip was a deeply affecting one for Aslanian. “I found myself often coming back to the thought of ‘This is how my life would be had my parents never moved to America.’ Would I even be a hip-hop artist? An actor? Would I be married with kids by now? My friends would be different, my sisters and my cousins would be different as people. Everything would be different. My mentality, my influences, my goals. All of these thoughts kept coming into my head as I would interact with various family members and individuals in general.”
In a recent press release, Aslanian described the motivation behind the web series. “April 24th marks the centennial of the genocide, which Turkey still denies, so I’m doing what I can to help bring awareness to the issue. I feel like this documentary is something any first- or second-generation American can relate to, no matter where you come from… At the end of the day the cultural awareness is growing so that’s what matters with a project like this.”
The weekly release of each episode coincides with the release of a new song on Aslanian’s SoundCloud page, and the web series will continue throughout the next two months. “Episodes and music from each episode are released every Wednesday and will conclude in April with a new music video which I filmed entirely in Armenia called ‘Power of the Hye.’ It’s my remake of ‘HyePower’ and touches on topics related to the genocide, like Obama’s position and Hrant Dink’s assassination. I’ve also partnered up with HayFanat.com which will be showing the episodes with Armenian subtitles on their YouTube channel.”
The first episode features the haunting and melodic single “Before I Die” (available at https://m.soundcloud.com/nazobravo/before-i-die-ft-a-chilla). The song, featuring A. Chilla, is from a dramatic short film of the same name by Suren Tadevosyan. “I met the director, Suren Tadevosyan, while he was in Los Angeles shooting the film. He had seen my previous work and reached out through a mutual friend about working on the film soundtrack. A. Chilla was already working on the music, so I just met up with him in the studio and we came up with the song “Before I Die” together. Suren ended up liking the song so much that he changed the title of the film to match the song.”
Aslanian is also involved in the feature film “Armenia, My Country, My Mother, My Love,” in which he plays the role of an intellectual named Grigor Orbelian, who is rounded up by Ottoman authorities along with numerous other Armenian intellectuals on April 24, 1915. The film is slated for release in theaters this April.