Elyas Khan

Elyas Khan is an art rock composer and performer. Drawing from his UK-Indian/Pakistani heritage and creative upbringing in the NYC art, music & theatre scene, he traverses global musical routes as a sort of poetic trader: producing music of the awakening streets from New York to Mumbai, Berlin to Casablanca. His primal instrumentals, ancient vocals, electronic chaos, and bass heavy grooves generate music as at home beside classics like Frank Zappa and Jeff Buckley as it is with contemporaries like Animal Collective or Björk. Brawl In Paradise is Elyas's first solo record following three releases from his NYC based band Nervous Cabaret (Näive), and one release by his side project Gentlemen & Assassins. Elyas chose a different city to write each album in. To compose Brawl In Paradise he headed for Berlin and the historic NalepaStrasse FunkHaus. Rejecting cultural and artistic nostalgia, Elyas rips apart his music, creating new soundtracks of post-glam, pre-revolutionary, art-rock: styled, not fashioned. In the timeline of popular music genres, Khan fits with musicians who are defined within their own context: artists such as Peter Gabriel, Devo, Bjork, Radiohead or M.I.A.

Khan’s autodidactic, multi-disciplinary training allowed him to play most of the instruments on the album, with some guest performances by: British writer Neil Gaiman, composer Sxip Shirey, drummer Eric D’Urso (Budzillus), violinist Rafael Bord (Heurlements de Leo), contra bassist Daniel Cordes (17 Hippies) and vocalist Saudia Young.

Artwork for Brawl In Paradise album and singles was designed by artist Ebon Heath and features a sculpture created by him made to fit onto Elyas’s body. (www.listeningwithmyeyes.com)

The first album single “Bells” features British writer Neil Gaiman and New York circus and film composer Sxip Shirey playing the “Sxipenspiel”, a bell instrument hand made by Amanda Palmer and Neil for Sxip’s birthday.

Elyas Khan is an auto-didactic musician who has also achieved recognition as a composer. He has been awarded a MacDowell Colony fellowship, won a New York Meet The Composer Grant, and has been presented in concert by the Louvre Museum in Paris.

 

• ELYAS KHAN TALKS ABOUT MAKING BRAWL IN PARADISE


Lyrically, I was receiving, decoding, and expounding on messages of change, conflict, possibility and empathy. Brawl In Paradise looks at the linguistic, economic and political manipulations surrounding progress in a world experiencing unprecedented volumes of human transmission. I see myself as a poetic story teller and am thankful for invaluable inspiration from the likes of Arundhati Roy, Aldous Huxley and the poetry of EE Cummings, among many others.

At the same time, I needed Brawl In Paradise to pump out the funk noir hooks that resonate within me. Musical inspiration came from far and wide: the freak folk of Animal Collective to Sun Ra to Yoko Ono. From my studio at the top of the former East Berlin Radio Station HQ, I would stare out over the entire city of Berlin with all my instruments, found objects, electronic devices, microphones, 4 tracks and preamps turned on and rolling.

The initial recording sessions were listened to over and over. Creating and recording layer upon layer I then stripped these sections down to their musical DNA and matched them with my other sound experiments. Much was captured in the moment then meticulously arranged during daily studio time. Like a painter or sculptor, I obsessively studied passages of sound and poetry, editing and chipping away at the material until shapes began to appear and whole pieces eventually stood by themselves.

Having worked for close to 10 years with my band Nervous Cabaret I was now on my own, away from all that was familiar. It felt dangerous but inspiring and I became intent on working as independently as possible to see if I could truly make a "solo record". After accumulating many songs and pieces of music I was ready for outside reaction. On my bicycle I rode the Berlin streets, usb stick around my neck, stuffed with dozens of wav files. I knew in order to realize this work I needed help. Much like a director of a film, I needed the equivalent of a camera man or editor. I found this in my friend, British producer Matt Booker. Many of the following months were spent fine tuning the music with Matt, then sitting in his kitchen listening back and studying the days work as well as the work of our favorite artists and producers.

 

• DISCOGRAPHY


> ELYAS KHAN BAND RELEASES

GENTLEMEN & ASSASSINS: Mother Say’s We’re Innocent, Pebble Music/2012

NERVOUS CABARET: Between The Bridges, Full Length Documentary (DVD), La Huit/2009

NERVOUS CABARET: Drop Drop In A Little Bottle, Näive/2007

NERVOUS CABARET: Nervous Cabaret, Näive/2005

NERVOUS CABARET: Ecstatic Music for Savage Souls, eLab/2003

NERVOUS CABARET: Fragmented Devotion To You, self-released/2001


> RELEASES FEATURING ELYAS KHAN AS VOCALIST

17 HIPPIES: Metamorphosis, Vocals (French/German and Urdu versions) of track “Solitaire”, Hipster Records/2014

BOOK OF KNOTS: Garden of Fainting Stars, Lyrics and Vocals on the title track “Garden of Fainting Stars” Ipecac/2011 
Album also features Mike Patton, Blixa Bargeld, Mike Watt & Carla Khilstedt

THREE BLACK EYES: The Sweet Demise of the Boozehound, Lyrics & Vocals on “Chorky The Killer”, Self Released/2009

BEN PEROWSKY: Moodswing Orchestra El Destructo Vol 2. , Lyrics & Vocals for Track “Till u Die”, El Destructo Records/2007
Album also features Joan Wasser, Bebel Gilberto, Oren Bloedow

JAN BELL: Songs For Love Drunk Sinners, Vocals on “Miners”, Little Red Hen/2007
Winner of People’s Choice Award for Alt Country Album / US Independent Music Awards 2007

 

• SELECTED PRESS QUOTES


“Khan stands out for his wonderfully gritty deliver” NEW YORK TIMES

“A big sweaty mass of punk, Gypsy, jazz and dub.” TIME OUT

“Heart-stopping” DAZED UK

“This guy takes his bass seriously!” OK PLAYER

“Straight out of Quentin Tarantino's Imagination” LE MONDE

“You're guaranteed to laugh and cry within half an hour” NY PRESS

“High voltage savageness… A furious sound orgy, a real morality of excess!” LES INROCKUPTIBLES

“A voice like melted fucking chocolate doused in bourbon” SOLD OUT MUSIC

“Taking the spiritual and making it gleefully profane” SALON.COM

“Think Tom Waits as Qawwali Gypsy King.” VILLAGE VOICE

“Elyas Khan, somewhere between Lemmy and Johnny Depp, spits and howls with abandon” LENINSTOMB (blog)

Brawl In Paradise

by Elyas Khan

RELEASE DATE: 09/09/2013

Brawl In Paradise is Elyas's first solo record following three releases from his NYC based band Nervous Cabaret. To compose Brawl In Paradise he headed for Berlin and the historic NalepaStrasse FunkHaus. Rejecting cultural and artistic nostalgia, Elyas rips apart his music, creating new soundtracks of post-glam, pre-revolutionary, art-rock: styled, not fashioned. In the timeline of popular music genres, Khan fits with musicians who are defined within their own context: artists such as Peter Gabriel, Devo, Bjork, Radiohead or M.I.A.

1. Transmission Room 804 Elyas Khan 0:53
2. Top Of The World Elyas Khan 3:37
3. Brawl In Paradise Elyas Khan 4:50
4. Lowest Of The Law Elyas Khan 3:28
5. Alien In Waiting Elyas Khan 2:18
6. The River Elyas Khan 4:04
7. Three Merry Boys Elyas Khan 5:21
8. Just A Shadow Elyas Khan 1:41
9. Bells Elyas Khan 4:36
10. Cook The Ocean Elyas Khan 3:12
11. What A Party Elyas Khan 2:26
12. Dear Eliza Elyas Khan 3:18
5 September 2016

Elyas Khan - Bells