Please join the Humanities Studio and the Department of History as we welcome Rostam Batmanglij, formerly of acclaimed indie band Vampire Weekend, to Pomona College to perform from his debut solo album, Half-Light.
A Grammy Award-winning songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, Rostam was born to Iranian refugee parents in Washington, D.C., in 1983. He attended Columbia University, where he studied classical music while focusing on songwriting, recording and production on his own time. While at Columbia, he produced Vampire Weekend's self-titled debut. That album, along with Contra and Modern Vampires in the City, became gold records for the band with Rostam as producer. Rostam announced his departure from Vampire Weekend in early 2016. He contributed songwriting and production to several of the most important albums of that year—including Frank Ocean's Blonde, Solange's A Seat at the Table and his collaboration with The Walkmen's Hamilton Leithauser, I Had a Dream That You Were Mine.
His solo debut Half-Light is a kaleidoscopic work featuring 15 songs written, produced and performed by Rostam in his Los Angeles home studio. "It wasn't until I had almost finished this album and I was trying to decide what I should call it that I took the time to look up the word 'half-light,'" Rostam says of the album's title.
"That lyric, and a large part of that song, had come to me in a stream of consciousness sitting in front of a piano years ago, captured in a voice memo on my phone. I had never stopped to figure out what that word meant exactly. But when I read its definition, and found that it had a double meaning—that it referred to both dawn and dusk—I started to think of how those times of day are part of so many lyrics on this album.
"I was also struck by the fact that it was a word with a double meaning. That felt important to this record. It made me think back to a friend in Japan who told me that the word 'double' was becoming more and more popular than 'half' for people to describe their split ethnicities. Any person growing up in America with immigrant parents experiences this dichotomy, of feeling both double and half. It's something a lot of us who identify as queer experienced growing up as well, slipping between straight and gay worlds, code-switching. I say ‘experienced’ in the past tense because I don't know that that's the experience today's kids will have. Things are changing," he continues.
"I think what draws me to dawn and dusk as a songwriter is that those are the moments where we feel change deepest in a day. Those are the moments where I seem to experience the onset of a realization and the strongest feelings of optimism about the future. With this record, I'm trying to share some of those realizations and some of that optimism."
Rostam visits Pomona College as part of the Humanities Studio's spring program Art of a Revolution. Admission to the concert is free with open seating. No tickets are required. Doors open approximately 30 minutes prior to the performance.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
Show begins at 8 p.m.
- Pomona College
- Bridges Hall of Music
- 150 E. Fourth Street
No tickets required.