Azniv Korkejian has been writing songs for a couple of decades, but for many years, they never felt like they added up to much more than a hobby—the natural yield of a creative person with access to a piano or guitar and free time.
But somewhere along the way, Korkejian—an LA-based music editor by day—noticed her works piling up and transforming, from something ephemeral into a collection of folksongs looking for a home. The tipping point, she says, was “Solitary Daughter,” one of 10 stunning tracks on Korkejian’s self-titled debut under the name Bedouine.
“I was going through a weird, funny time,” she explains. “I wasn’t really leaving the house much. I wasn’t really in a funk, I just kind of became a hermit and I was writing almost every day. And I liked ‘Solitary Daughter’ so much, I just played it all the time. I couldn’t stop. At night I would play it, record it, listen back, and work on it some more.”
Through a mutual friend, Korkejian met with producer Gus Seyffert, who’s worked with musicians like Beck and Norah Jones. She was inquiring about some portable analog recording gear, but Seyffert showed interest, and invited her to record a song.
“I showed him ‘Solitary Daughter’ and he was like, ‘If you want to just pop into the studio and play it again...,’” Kokejian says. “I was like, ‘I can definitely play it again. That’s all I’ve been doing.’”
She and Seyffert more or less repeated that process over and over again (“It felt so effortless,” Korkejian says, “but I was pretty persistent”) until they had Bedouine, which came out last summer on Spacebomb Records. It was one of 2017’s hidden gems, a gentle and intoxicating blend of country, soul, ’60s/’70s folk, and quiet defiance. Korkejian’s beguiling voice recalls Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto, her delicately plucked guitar conjures Nick Drake, and her unhurried pace is straight out of Leonard Cohen’s playbook.
That quiet defiance, however? That’s all Korkejian. Bedouine’s songs spill over with lovely lines about heartbreak and loneliness, frustration and self-reliance, fluttering about but usually circling back somewhere close to a sentiment expressed most plainly in “Solitary Daughter”: “I don’t want your pity, concern, or your scorn/I’m calm by my lonesome, I feel right at home.”
Korkejian’s background might have something to do with her independent streak. She was born in Aleppo, Syria, to Armenian parents and raised in Saudi Arabia, then moved to America and bounced around from Houston to Boston to Kentucky to Georgia before landing in Los Angeles. All the while, she never thought she’d record an album, tour the world, and play late-night TV shows. (Korkejian performed on Late Night with Seth Meyers earlier this month.)
“I was so inside of it all that I never, to be honest, considered what other people might think of my music, nor did I really care,” she says with a laugh. “I think that in some ways you’re at an advantage with your first record because you’re not as aware of the outside world and how people will talk about you and in what ways people will be critical.”
She pauses, as if to consider the unexpected arc of her life over the past year, and then continues: “But I wonder how that will change?”