SALAR: On Phasing out of MoonAge and into his own Moniker with New Album “Black and White World
Vol. 1, 2, &3.” –“I can only write what I actually experience.”
When you speak to Salar Rajabnik, it is quite clear you are speaking to an artist. His overwhelming sense of artistry and intelligence is inescapable in a way that you aren’t sure if you are being bombarded by madness, or magic, or both. A self-proclaimed “aspiring polymath” (Follow his Instagram @officialsalar I dare you) Salar clearly knows about much more than just his music.
Salar’s worldly education comes in part from hi bi-cultural upbringing and in part because he is a
‘musician’s musician.’ He’s a guy who can talk about bass tones for hours, and how his U.S. hometown
Kansas City was instrumental in the beginnings of jazz, but also is an activist for peace and his own
Persian culture. The juxtaposition of being culturally aware but also a rock n’ roller is evident
throughout his work.
“So I kinda grew up in Kansas City and Iran…(Kansas) It’s where I started playing music. I moved here to Nashville four years ago.” Rajabnik has also spent time in Atlanta and has performed around the world. When asked about his favorite place to play in the U.S. he says; “In the US it’s so tough, I’m gunna cheat a little bit. I really love playing my hometown (KC), it feels like playing with family.” With hometown pride, and excitement for an upcoming show he gushes about the blues and jazz tradition and the Kansas crowd who have a great sense of arts appreciation. “I get to play for people who really love art.” He goes on to say “I also really love playing in Los Angeles. It kinda feels like another home. It’s like a big hang. People just want to lay low and jam and go to the beach.”
Whether he is playing a show as Minnie Driver’s guitar player in L.A., with his old band MoonAge at
Nashville favorite ‘The Family Wash’, or jamming on his own, it’s clear that Salar’s nomadic life as a
musician makes it easy for him to feel at home in cities all over. That said, Salar’s real sense of home
and pride comes from his Persian culture. He could give a dissertation on Persian history and the important cultural differences between modern day Iran, and the Persia of old, but in short he explains
“Islam arose in Saudia Arabia and spread as far East as China in the 1300s…Fast forward a couple
hundred years, it became The Islamic Republic of Iran…I guess you could say rebranded, if a country can be rebranded.”
No stranger to rebranding, Rajabnik needed a new stage moniker after the breaking up of his last project MoonAge. Salar Rajabnik (although actually quite easy to pronounce Ra-Hab-Nik) can be a mouthful for an audience, and friends assured him “SALAR could be a cool band name or a solo thing.”
So SALAR it is. Losing the last name gives Salar artistic freedom to move from solo act to band, but his heritage remains an important part of his narrative. Rajabnik continued explaining the re branding of his nation, as well as his new work.
“Iran was Persian until fairly recently in history. Persia was never an Islamic Nation. Persians are
ethnically different from Arabic and Turkish people. They’re kinda their own thing.”
Persia was once a place of many different religions living peace. Persians are known for their textiles,
music, and culture, so it’s no wonder Salar is proud of his ancestral home. “Being raised bi-culturally, I
consider myself like an activist.” An activist for music, the arts, and peace Salar says: “Persians…they are lovely people.”
When it comes to music, the love of people, and need to outcry against injustice often fuels Salar’s
music. “I hate the ‘P’ word, but some people think my work is political. I’ve got protest songs. At the
same time, I’ve got fun songs.” Salar goes on to say that when it comes to injustice: “It’s your moral
imperative to speak out.”
While still working with MoonAge, Rajabnik penned the song “Killers” while watching the news. The
troops were being pulled out of Afghanistan and the devastation of the war enraged the balladeer.
On his new record, “Black and White World” SALAR’s own personal anthem, he says “I want to be
Salar understands the world in which he lives, while at the same time wants a more peaceful, softer,
world. A world where everything isn’t black and white, divided by things like the color of your skin, or
the region of the world you hail from. Maybe a world where everyone knows that Harrison is the best
Beatle and that Jeff Goldblum is “The North Star of Cool,” a world where people are more focused on a
great vibe, and less focused on the labels that are so often imposed on us.
One label we can all look forward to is SALAR’s new album “Black and White World.” Working on Black
and White World was an emotional experience for Salar. “What I heard in my head is exactly what I
accomplished. I really believe in the message behind the songs. I’m excited to show people what that
looks like and what that sounds like. On the album, Salar gives credit where credit is due.
“I have to credit David Wright. We went through a lot personally. The record became like a bonding
point between the two of us.”
SALAR isn’t all history lessons and protest songs. His much anticipated song “In a Little While” is a story within itself. “It’s written from the perspective of a girl that’s had a tough hand dealt to her in life and is still hopeful despite her circumstances.” With this new album, his audience has a lot to look forward to. “Black and White World” will be released in three installments of EPs over the next few months collectively making up one full album. He says of the creation of the album at Cherrybox Studios “You’ll walk into a place and immediately feel inspired. You’re in that place and that place affects you. It was a safe place to create. Cherrybox and David were super crucial to the whole process.”
“Black and White World Vol. 1, 2, & 3” will be released in the Fall. To find out more about SALAR and
hear what magic came out of Cherrybox, you can visit www.salarrajabnik.com.