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Omeed Norouzi, an artist better known as NYRU.
Image supplied by Omeed Norouzi.
Editor’s note on Undiscovered Sounds: Every so often, Modern Times Magazine talks to bands or other musical performers who have yet to hit the jackpot both in the Phoenix metro and beyond. For some of those featured, it may be the first time they have been interviewed. Others may have been working for years for their ship to come in. But all of them have the dream. They may make Undiscovered Sounds, but their sounds are not unworthy.
Undiscovered Sounds: Phoenix-Based Electronic Musician Omeed Norouzi, AKA NYRU, Talks About The Local Scene, Horror Films And What Inspires Him, Including Bands And Doing The Bloody Mary Thing

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By Clipper Arnold
Modern Times Magazine

March 29, 2016 — Phoenix musician Omeed Norouzi is better known as NYRU. The 21-year-old artist’s nomme de plume started off as a semi-nonsensical acronym, phonetically pronounced similarly to “and-why-are-you” before people started pronouncing it as its own “spelled-out” entity. This doesn’t bother Norouzi, however, who thinks emphasis would be more rightfully placed on the music and not the name.

Norouzi said the project started “before it was called NYRU. It was a really slow change from guitar music. I was really into guitar stuff, you know, real band music, but it was hard to get a band, so I just started making my own music. The first release was my own stuff, with the thought of it being band music. But, it was made by myself with a laptop.”

Previously, Norouzi has made more guitar-based music with Roddy Nikpour from Ghost Island and Ursus Colossus, primarily at art shows. “There was also some talk of doing film soundtracks that didn’t really happen,” he said.

As far as other electronic projects that he’s into, Norouzi says he’s more intrigued by the curation done by particular labels. He said, “I’ll listen to music put out by labels. So, some that I’ve been more into recently are like Life and Death, or Mister Saturday Night. When you listen to their music, it’s kind of their own world of releases, which is interesting to stay into for a bit.”

While struggling to readily condense their styles into genres, he somewhat reticently assigns the terms “dark techno” and “house” to Life and Death and Mister Saturday Night, respectively. I ask if those are terms he would ascribe to NYRU — possibly darker, ambient, techno or house vibes. Norouzi said it’s certainly become more dancefloor oriented, to him at least.

NYRU had humble beginnings as Norouzi started making electronic music on his sister’s laptop in Garageband and didn’t get his own laptop until he got to college. He started messing around with pirated versions of Ableton Live before it presented particular issues:

“I finally bought [Ableton Live] because of this thing that happened in Iran,” Norouzi said. “Two summers ago, I was on a trip to visit my grandpa in Tehran, Iran — the capital. He lives in the city, so I wanted to get field recordings of the streets and other sorts of field recordings. There’s a lot of weird sounds of the city that you couldn’t get anywhere else — like the sound of the horns and cars are different, people are yelling services out of their trucks or through megaphones, ‘take your garbage out!’ You know, stuff like that. So, I wanted to do that.

“Then, while I was there, my cracked copy of Ableton stopped working a week after I got there,” he added. “And I was there for a week and a half. That kind of limited me in terms of production, so I just went to a bunch of music stores, buying CDs of electronic albums that aren’t even from Iran, but that Iran receives.”

NYRU performs once every couple of months. He said he was particularly into house shows that he used to throw on his own with his friend, Steven Wesolowski — who, together, constitute a DIY outfit deemed LUX Social Club. “I like that better than playing shows that I don’t book. There are just small things that I kind of like to know at any given time. It’s more comfortable, there’s more control,” he said.

Sticking with that theme, the group bought their own subwoofer so they wouldn’t have to worry about the potential inadequacy of others’ P.A. systems. Among electronic acts such as NYRU, LUX Social Club hosted Ascetic House acts such as Memorymannn and Jock Club. Will Niebergall has also played a few of their shows, either as Glasspopcorn or under his own name. Norouzi says LUX was originally more “dancefloor-oriented,” but that he’d like to book more experimental acts in the future. For the time being, however, he’s more focused on producing his own music.

While listening to NYRU’s “Club Red”, there was a striking similarity to another song I’d previously heard. While I couldn’t quite discern it at first, I found that the melody, tone, and beat to be very similar to the song “Organ Donor” by DJ Shadow. The beat is a little slower in DJ Shadow’s version, and there might be a half-note of difference in the base melody.


Club Red by NYRU


Organ Donor by DJ Shadow

I asked Norouzi what he thinks of this comparison. He laughs and responded “that’s awesome, yeah… I’ve heard the song, but it never occurred to me that it’s the same vibe. I don’t listen to that much DJ Shadow...there’s something to it, about the way it bounces...almost like The Exorcist theme song.” Norouzi says that and other horror movie soundtracks may have been a more direct inspiration to him for the song.

He says he doesn’t watch a lot of movies, only when he has time, but finds some horror movies intensely interesting—especially in terms of cinematography, “I just like horror movies that are shot beautifully.” He articulates a sincere appreciation for Dario Argento’s Susperia and Inferno.

I asked Norouzi if he thinks his appreciation for the aesthetic of horror movies carries over to his music, especially in terms of rhythm, suspense, and implied tension. We discuss NYRU’s “Club Red”, a song whose music video is composed of fried footage from The Shining. He says it definitely has an “eerie vibe” to it in the sense that it doesn’t have a lot of “build” to it. It’s more of a steady, suspenseful song that is slightly interjected or flourished by minor percussion or phaser effects.

We talked about Guillermo del Toro’s work for a while, Pan’s Labyrinth, Crimson Peak, and his production work on Mama — which, while not a particularly impressive movie, riffs on the Latin American folk legend of la llorona, or “the crying woman,” who comes in the night and takes children.

“Did you ever do the ‘bloody mary’ thing when you were a kid?” Norouzi asked me. I tell him I did, but nothing ever happened. “I think my imagination got the best of me when I tried it. I thought I saw some things I was like, freaking out,” he added.

I tell him that this same feeling of suspense, emulated in horror movies may be less about what’s actually there and more about the anticipation of what’s going to happen, similar to the suspenseful feeling that is elicited from songs like Club Red. Yeah, I definitely know what you’re talking about [...] when you have something that’s constantly repeating for so long and the slightest change happens—you’re focusing so much deeper on what’s going on that when this little, baby change happens, you can see it. It’s nice. It’s so satisfying,” he said.

The man behind NYRU also talked about the finer points of the genre. As far as the relatively repetitious nature of some kinds of electronic dance music, Norouzi ascribes its importance to movement, physical or otherwise:

“It depends on what you’re trying to get across, I guess, or if you’re even trying to get something across. Where the repetition really comes in for me in dancefloor music, or DJing dancefloor music, is if you’re a listener and you’re there live. You get into it more. It’s more physical. Your body likes physical movement, and if you change things too much, your body can’t keep up with it as much. So, it’s a very physical experience to have repetition, I think,” he comments.

“It gets someone else’s body or your own body involved in what’s being played. Like the song Body Language comes from people being at shows and maybe not physically getting into it. But, there’s a beauty of seeing people get into it. [...] I want it to be walking music as much as it is dance music if that makes sense [...] something to occupy what you’re doing or to cycle you through something. It’s supposed to be a movement, whether it’s in your head or body.”

NYRU is releasing a split with Will Niebergall called Scylla and Charybdis that will be released sometime in 2016 with Arena.com. In the meantime, you can hear more of NYRU on his Soundcloud or Bandcamp.
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