Bei’Ru Fuses New and Old in ‘Little Armenia’ For Fresh Sound


Cover of “Little Armenia”

By Anahit Tokatlyan
Special to the Mirror-Spectator

LOS ANGELES — When you ask Armenians about their music what usually comes to mind are artists like Tata or Armenchik. The sounds are usually created by traditional instruments such as the dumbeg and duduk, and when listening to the music, it is for the sole reason to have some kef or fun. Rarely do Armenians, especially Armenian youth today, talk about or even listen to the great composers and musicians in the past such as Komitas or Aram Khachaturian.

Artist Bei’Ru, from Los Angeles, has dared to be different from the rest with his album, “Little Armenia,” a tribute to those who shaped and created Armenian musical history.

Bei’Ru (Baruir Panossian) was born and raised in California — specifically in Hollywood and in the area known as “Little Armenia.” He and his parents had immigrated to California from Lebanon, for this reason and the fact that not too many of his peers could pronounce his name, he was given the nickname, and used today as his artist name, of Bei’Ru. From a very young age, Bei’Ru had been exposed to music. He started playing the piano at the age of 6, and like many children, he recalled not particularly enjoying this experience. However it was in his teens when he started to appreciate music and in particular the art of making it.

Bei’Ru’s interest in creating music pushed him to teach himself how to really create music. He started this particular adventure in music with his job as a DJ. He became popular and was able to work in various clubs throughout Los Angeles. His musical preferences, he said, are “all over the place,” and that he “had been through many phases.”

Even though he had experimented with genres such as hip-hop, avant-garde and jazz, his real passion and interest was always close to home.

After DJ-ing for some time, Bei’Ru took his knowledge of music to the next level and created his own record label, Musa Ler Music, and began production on his album, “Little Armenia.” Besides putting him in piano lessons, Bei’Ru’s parents introduced him to the great Armenian musicians of the 20th century, including musicians from the 1960s and ’70s. It became his goal to find more vintage Armenian music. He began his search in Los Angeles, asking his relatives and looking for records in stores. His determination to find forgotten Armenian music took him to Lebanon, Syria and Armenia. When Bei’Ru’s search was over and he was satisfied with the collection, he began working on the production of the album.

“Little Armenia” is the mixture of the music and soul of Armenians in the past and of the diaspora today. The title alone has the double meaning which comes from his inspiration from the vintage Armenian music he collected and listened to and from the influences of living in America, specifically Los Angeles.

The album is made up of instrumental samples of the Armenian music he collected, mixed with modern instruments and sounds. He has even added to some tracks sound clips from the 1980 movie “Promise of Love,” a story about Armenians immigrating to America, and more specifically to Los Angeles. The album takes the Armenian music found and gives it new life and new meaning.

Bie’Ru’s favorite track, Vepur, is a great example of this new life. He added a mix of instruments such as guitars, drums and horns, and gave the music a more upbeat, funky, groovy sound without losing its original Armenian soul. He has also transformed a song from Aram Khachaturian’s great ballet, “Gayane.” The original music is there and he’s even kept the dumbeg in the background. The added drums, some sound clips in Armenian and a few very eclectic and sampled electronic sounds are what made this piece come alive for this listener. Bei’Ru succeeds in presenting the musical past of Armenians and bringing out the soul it had through modern sounds.

Bei’Ru’s hope, through “Little Armenia,” was to raise awareness of this music that existed but was not heard. He said he especially wanted to get Armenian youth more exposed to it and with the contemporary take on the samples he hopes that it will create a new movement that will make the youth more appreciative of their musical past. He has created each selection differently and in a way that it cannot be labeled and more importantly, it’s made to be enjoyed by not only Armenians but those who just appreciate different types of music.

Bei’Ru said he will have a follow-up to “Little Armenia,” but it will be very different.

To hear Bei’Ru’s music or to purchase the album, visit his Facebook page or his website, www.beirumusic.com.