Rolling Stone Premieres The Video For Serj's New Song 'Artsakh'


By Kory Grow - Rolling Stone

System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian was so moved by the resilience of Armenian fighters in Nagorno-Karabakh, a region in the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan that neighbors Armenia, during a four-day war in April that he wrote a passionate new political folk song, "Artsakh," in deference to them. The song voices support for the people of Artsakh – the Armenian name for the region – and protests what Tankian describes as Azeri aggression.

"These people have lived on those lands for thousands of years," the singer wrote in a statement. "They have struggle but also great beauty written on their foreheads. The whimsical appropriation of land by an empire (Stalin) placed them under Azerbaijan. They have since gained their independence and have lived a prosperous existence for the last 20 or so years. I do not believe in wars and ultimately borders but I deeply believe in self-determination and life without oppression. Therefore it is time for the world to recognize them as the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)."

Violence broke out in the region on April 2nd, prompting Azerbaijan's president, Ilham Aliyev, to call for the "immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian troops from our territories," according to The Washington Post. As the situation worsened, Azerbaijani troops attempted to take control of the region. The paper reported scores of deaths, the worst in the region since 1994. A ceasefire was declared on April 5th. Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced his support of a truce, according to Armenia Now.

"It's a crazy provocation," the singer tells Rolling Stone. "It's a land that these people have lived on from the beginning of time, from time immemorial, with children springing from the rivers and generations coming from their mountains. There is a national liberation struggle embedded within their character, their public mask, if you will. It goes on through trying to create peace. We will ultimately win with culture and all this beautiful stuff."

Tankian made a video for the song, on which he sings and plays guitar, this past weekend.

"Artsakh" lyrics, translated (English)

We've always lived on these lands,
Reaped and harvested these fields,
Generations sprung from your rivers,
Children born from your mountains,

The public mask of tradition,
The struggle for liberation or death,
The enemy's gaze at your terrain,
Our smiles at your bosom,
At your bottomless will.

We're going to sing with our fists
With the tricolor flag of justice, 
Humanitarian love of peace
With the holy blessing of a child's face,
We are going to prevail with culture 
We are going to prevail with culture
We are going to prevail by being Armenian.

Artsakh lyrics, translated (Russian)

Мы всегда жили на этих землях,
Сеяли и собирали на этих полях,
Поколения выходили из этих рек,
И младенцы рождались из этих гор.

Мы известны традицией-
Борьба за свободу, или смерть!
Под взором врага на твои земли,
И с улыбкой из недр твоих,
Улыбаясь твоей бездонной воле.

Мы будем петь нашими кулаками
С трехцветным флагом справедливости,
Гуманной любовью к миру
Со святого благословения детского лица,
Мы победим культурой
Мы победим культурой
Мы победим будучи Армянами.

Original Lyrics (Armenian)

Մենք միշտ ապրել ենք այս հողերում,
Քաղել ու հնձել այս դաշտերում,
Սերունդներ բխել քո գետերից,
Մանուկներ ծնուել քո լեռներից

Հանրային դիմակ ավանդական,
Ազատագրական պայքար կամ մահ,
Դշնամու աչքը տարածքներիդ,
Մեր ժպիտները քո ծոցերին,
Քո անհատակ կամքին,

Մենք պիտի երգենք բռունցքներով,
Արդարութեան դրոշ երագոյնով,
Մարդկայնութեան սէր խաղաղութեան,
Մանուկի դէմքին սուրբ օրհնութեամբ,

Մենք պիտի հաղթենք մշակույթով
Մենք պիտի հաղթենք մշակույթով
Մենք պիտի հաղթենք մեր Հայութեամբ։