Monday Mixtape # 14 – Introducing Tato Martirossian

Every once in a while we ask someone we admire to send us a list of their five favorite songs. It’s a sure-fire way to get to know someone better and at the same time discover new music.

This week we’re posting the list of Tato Martirossian, award winning Armenian-Dutch belly dancer. A while ago Tato started teaching dance at the Mezrab to a dedicated group of ladies. Though she cursed us a few times for asking her to make this list (what, only five songs? How can I choose between all these beauties?) we’re grateful for the glimps in her musical taste. Enjoy!

Sari Siroon Yar – Loosig Kochian

If you haven’t heard this song been played by the Mezrab collective, you sure missed out on something. But don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll play it again (right Sahand?). This is the original Armenian version, composed by a 19th century troubadour, who tried to enchant his mountain sweetheart, a “girl with a thousand charms”, through the magic of his music. The melody of this old love ballad was used for a beautiful Iranian song in the seventies, which was popularized during the 1979 revolution. How cool is that? And I only found out a couple of months ago.

Agua de Beber – Astrud Gilberto

When I was a little girl I used to live in a tiny house in Armenia with my parents and my little sister. One of my most vivid memories is of my dad waking us up every morning by playing one of his many vinyl records in the living room. I remember it was glorious waking up on summer mornings with the sun rays peeking in through the window, the wonderful smell of breakfast and the sweet voice of Astrud Gilberto.

Batwannis Bik – Warda

The very first time I saw a belly dance performance, I was blown away by the elegance and the skills of the dancer. I couldn’t believe the way she was translating the melodies and the rhythms through her body. I immediately knew that I had found my passion. The belly dancer was dancing to this song of Warda. Does it sound vaguely familiar even though you hadn’t heard it before? Timbaland has used a sample of this song for Aaliyah’s “Don’t know what to tell ya”.

Antika – West El Balad

This Egyptian band now tours all over the world and plays in huge sold-out concert halls. When I used to live in Cairo though, they used to perform on Fridays in a tiny, smoky, crowded bar in a downtown alley. Everyone used to sing along happily to this song, but the lyrics are quite sad actually. It’s about a loving heart who becomes an antique (antika) in the house of its beloved, after she’s done playing with it.

Love is Blindness – Jack White

I spend a lot of time in the train. A lot. Sometimes I see super funny people and overhear super interesting convesations. But sometimes the train atmosphere gets polluted by super boring banalities. In these cases I like to put on my headphones, play dramatic music and pretend I’m in a movie scene. This awesome song never fails to transform a lifeless train morning into a Tarantino movie scene. Enjoy!

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