Varasteh: Benyamin ripped me off!!

Nima Varasteh whose name is being associated with Benyamin’s successful debut and Hamid Askari’s recently released “Coma 2” as the arranger says in an interview with Ettefaghe No that he was the violinist Siamak Khahani’s substitute in all of ARIAN’s concerts outside Iran. He also claims to having been among the first who opened a digital studio in Iran but in the past eight years kept a low-key profile, something he now in retrospect regrets since many of the musicians who he considers  being inferior to him have got longer just by medial exposure. He also regrets letting Benyamin robbing him off the credit that he deserved for creating “85”! My arrangements were the key factor in that album’s success, Varasteh claims, when Benyamin came to me with his own arrangements I gave him ideas that were superior to his own. He basically begged me to rearrange the entire album and in many cases even re-compose according to my personal taste and formula. Since Benyamin’s compositions suffered from him not mastering the accords properly. After two years of dedicated work once I did hand over the final product that was the end of my name being linked to the album, Varasteh complains. He never acknowledged me and my contribution in any interview and took credit for all my ideas and creations! Even my instrumentation on the album! If I had been involved in “88” it would have never surpassed “85” but it would have been much stronger than the actual “88” ended up being, Varasteh says. In “85” the vocals and the music were aligned while in “88” each go separately. What I created back then was never preceded by anything of the kind and is still to this date undisputed. People call that formula “Benyamin-ian” while it was me and no one but me who created that! The whole beat and formula of “Donya Mesle To Nadaare” for instance belongs to me, he claims. Months after the release when Benyamin was about to give his first concert in Sweden he came crawling back to me, asking me for forgiveness and desperately begging me to conduct his concert! He knew that no one but me could turn what was on the album into live orchestration. I usually get paid 8000 dollars for such work but he offered me only a 1000 and said that he would compensate it with the quantity of the concerts on an upcoming tour. I accepted the deal based on that promise, but that very first concert ended up being our last! This treatment of me however is of a systematic nature when it comes to Rajabpour’s artists, Varasteh argues, for instance not a single image of me is seen in ARIAN’s footages from their concerts! Nowhere do the members mention that I am the man who has filled Siamak’s shoes on stage. I even did all the work for their UNICEF and Norooz songs in the absence of Ninef in the studio, but no credit was given to me! In a concert when I was the guest of honor seated on the front row, I ended up not being presented to the audience. ARIAN gave me an excuse, they said that it was all about politics! Hamid Askari is the only individual in the industry who has always made sure to give me the credit that I deserve, Varasteh points out. Otherwise the producer of that album never thanked me by sending me flowers or anything! Both in interviews and in concerts Hamid has always acknowledged me. He is one of the few decent friends I have as colleagues. Even if we happen to argue I know that he is honest in his heart, but Benyamin is someone I can never trust again and therefore never collaborate with again! In “Coma 2” me and Hamid managed to deliver crisp quality music, however the vibe and mood of his debut was stronger, Varasteh admits. In “Coma 2” it is Hamid’s decisions that shine through, I only contributed technically. I for instance would have never wanted to shape the track listing the way it is shaped and definitely not including “Fereshteh”, let alone as opener! A song which I deeply dislike but the album’s producer and people seem to love, Varasteh complains (keep in mind that just recently Askari explained in an interview that this song sounds the way it does because of Varasteh’s decision and not his!). The interesting part is that “Coma 2” works better live than on CD! This is something we have so far experienced, especially when it comes to “Fereshte” which people chant along to when done live.

Finally Varasteh is sorry that Soheil Tehrani’s (whom Rajabpour discovered and presented as a next Benyamin! By the way, on a funny side note, he did in fact end up being Setaareye Soheil!lol Poor chap) debut album which he had arranged flopped and is happy that his recent production for Sohrab Pakzad and Amir Tabari’s debut “Zire Baroon” has been marketed properly and become a success. Varasteh considers it as his best work yet, in which has once again been able to innovate. Sohrab and Amir are both composers who follow the trends in the Western music and contributed with their knowledge, he says. They also sound similar to each other so both sang all the songs and we later combined their voices as we saw it fit. We also produced the album together financially which is something new in this industry and we gave its distribution to a serious company that normally deals with classical music. Time has proved that future collaborations with Hamid Askari and Sohrab & Amir is wise and possible, Varasteh argues, something I am more than happy to continue.

Note: and what we learn from this whine-full interview is that it just isn’t enough to pay Nima Varasteh for his professional services and put his name on the list of credits, oh no, you basically have to tattoo his name on your forehead and put him on a pedestal for the rest of your artistic career!! Or maybe, just maybe this interview was done in that particular time of the month?!lol When I heard “Fereshte” for the first time my guess was that Varasteh and Benyamin had probably fallen out, considering that he was suddenly absent on “88” despite earlier announcements, and by including this song on Asakri’s album he meant to mark his territory and trademark style! I still stick to this theory of mine, however along the way something has obviously happened which has forced both Varasteh and Askari to not only reject the song in question, while denying active involvement in including and picking it as the album opener, but also to blame its mere existence on each other!!

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