skip to Main Content

The duo of Paco Versailles was created by songwriter and producer Ryan Merchant -one half of the other successful pop-duo from Los Angeles, Capital Cities- and guitarist and composer Vahagni (Vahagn Aryan), combining the two musical styles that each represented best, Pop dance and flamenco. This unbeatable combination led to the release of “Dancemenco”, their debut album which was released in 2021, bringing to Paco Versailles an ever-growing fan base.

Paco Versailles, have already released the singles “Alive”, “Unwind” and “Gemini” in 2020, and continued to work through their experimental soundscape, offering new material with their singles: “Je T’Aime”, “I Can’t Stop Myself From Happening To Me”, “Black & White” etc., while in 2022 they made their presence notable again with the songs: “Soy Gitano”, “Entangle” and “Love When We Get High”.

But who are Paco Versailles really? How do they characterize their music and what is their relationship with Greece? What are their next professional plans and what can we expect from them in 2023?

Find out everything through the exclusive interview they gave to SounDarts.gr

Hello guys and welcome to SounDarts.gr. How did you guys meet and how did you decide to form Paco Versailles?

Ryan: We met through another band that we played in together a couple of years ago. We became friends and we had this idea to make music combining our two styles. It’s more poppy, kinda French-house style and then the flamenco style. We decided we wanted to marry the styles and create a new one. Paco Versailles started very spontaneously. We just started making songs and we loved what we were coming up with, so we started putting out music and it’s grown from there. We just continued having fun doing it.

So who brought which style to the band?

Ryan: Vahagni plays guitar. He is the flamenco guitar player. My style is more dance music. I come from working on pop songs and more dance focused pop music.

How would you describe Paco Versailles to someone who hasn’t been exposed to your music untill now?

Vahagni: Once you understand the name of the group it’s kinda self-explanatory. “Paco”, being Paco de Lucia, the greatest flamenco guitarist and musician of all time who is one of my biggest influences and “Versailles”, the Parisian suburb, is where bands like Daft Punk and Air originated from. Those are bands that Ryan is highly influenced by. That marriage of two styles, taking flamenco rhythms and concepts and the way the guitar is played and kinda substituting it with your typical Nile Rogers style. Also Ryan’s background with songwriting, it all marries together and becomes this sound that is very unique. It has both the Spanish-flamenco and the French touch but also our personal touch which is a lot of music that we both listen to growing up in California and being in L.A.

Your latest single is called “Love When We Get High”. What was the inspiration behind its writing?

Vahagni: That tune came about very spontaneous. Me and Ryan were both in the studio and we were messing around with some ideas. I was fiddling with the piano when I came up with this melody and this lyric popped in my head “love when we get high”, just because I feel it especially in California that’s the thing! It doesn’t necessarily has to do with drugs. It can be high on life or being high on anything. Just having that feeling when you’re having this other experience than the usual. It was a totally different song at first, in terms of rhythm and of what it became. We went into the studio with our band and we wanted to give it a darker feeling, a bit more edge and that driving kinda rhythm came about after the studio we kinda brought that in and post-produced it a lot, adding layers and things like that and it became the song that it is. It took a little time but we’re really happy with the end result.

About a year ago you released your debut album,“Dancemenco”. Since then you have released three singles: “Love When We Get High”, “Entangled” and “Soy Gitano”. Should we expect your second album anytime soon? What details can you reveal about its release?

Ryan: We’re in the middle of releasing an E.P. right now with the three songs that you mentioned and two more, which we’re going to release next year. I think we’re done releasing this year. In January we’re going to release the next single and another single after that. Right now we’re in the midst of pulling together a lot of song-ideas and we’re going to be working on some collaborations with a lot of different artists. Also the next bunch of songs will be used to make another E.P. that will basically be the second half of the album. So after we finish releasing these two songs next year, we’re gonna have another five songs to release throughout the year. Our goal is basically to have as much music as possible to release constantly because: A. we love making music and it’s really fun for us to make it and B. because we feel like our fans are enjoying sharing new stuff constantly. Each time we make a new body of work we try to change up the process for making it. For this last E.P. we went into an actual studio and recorded it with a band live. It wasn’t like us sitting in my studio, having one musician coming at a time. It was like old-school process of recording which is like the full band and then taking one take of a live band and then having production elements afterwards. We’ve been enjoying working that way with our live band and capture their energy in the recordings.

If you could collaborate with an artist or band, who would you choose?

Vahagni: Daft Punk is definitely one that pops to mind right away. There’s so much good bands that we listen to: Jungle, The Parcels, even a lot of old-school musicians and musicians from the flamenco community. I think it might be fun to try integrate that a little bit.

Ryan: One artist that I love and I’d love to work with is a French artist and she’s going by the name Christine and The Queens. She’s one of my favorite modern artists. I think she’s doing really really interesting music and her lyrics are interesting. I love her voice, I love her persona and the way she performs. She would be like a dream-artist, a person that I would love to work with in the future. It would be a dream come true to do something super funky, dancy and shoot a music video with her because she’s an amazing dancer too.

Ryan is also one half of the successful duo Capital Cities. What are your plans regarding this musical project?

Ryan: We’ve been on hiatus for a long time. Right now we’re starting to work on some music but there are no set plans. We’re just pulling together some ideas and starting to write some stuff but I wouldn’t say that there is a master plan and place at the moment.

Vahagni I know that you have a connection with Greece! Could you tell me what it is?

Vahagni: Well my wife’s father was born in Larissa and my great grandfather actually migrated to Greece after the genocide for some time. From there he went to Marseilles in France. That’s where my grandparents were born and where my family lives but there’s always this connection. There’s a lot of Greek-Armenians. There are a lot of Armenians who ended up going to Greece and staying there. I think there’s a pretty big community there if I’m not mistaken.

Have you ever visited our country?

Vahagni: I haven’t! I think Ryan has! It’s one of my bucket list things that I definitely have to go some time soon.

Ryan: Greece is one of my favorite countries in all of Europe! I have pictures of me as a kid running around the ruins, when I went there with my parents! I was like two years old and my parents did a trip around the world and we stopped in Athens. More recently I went there in the summer of 2021, with my girlfriend. We went to Athens, Mylos and Santorini. I also have a really good friend there! He is a French man and has a bar in Athens. Now he has a property in Crete, so he keeps telling me that I have to go there. When I was researching the trip, I looked at all the islands like Skiathos or the sporadic islands and there are so many places I want to go to in Greece. I kinda want to go back every summer and explore a different island… it’s amazing!

There are like 6.000 islands and islets you know! There’s a lot of exploring!

Ryan: Well Ok If I could hit 2.000 islands I would be happy! It’s simply a magical country! If we could do a summer tour in Greece and play on different islands. That would be a dream come true for us!

Vahagni: We’ll have a great time there! I’m sure me and Ryan and our band we’d feel right at home in Greece and lots of plates would be broken!

If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?

Ryan: I wish that people would care less about their social media strategy and they’d put more attention towards making the best possible music that they can make. I think that if people took half the energy they spend worrying about what’s happening on the internet, what they’re doing on TikTok, what they’re doing on Instagram and just made the best music possible they would find success quicker than worrying about these things!

Vahagni: I would say it would be nice to have more people in the music industry who actually aren’t really related to that much business but also understand music. It would be nice to have conversations with music industry people who actually know music. It’s not all about numbers and metrics and stuff. I think back in the day there was a little bit more of that, with A&R and people running labels, who were fans and actually cared a lot about music.

 What was the most weird or funny thing that happened to one of your performances?

Ryan: A kinda funny in a dark humor way was when we played a show in Sun Valley, Idaho which is like a beautiful mountain-town, where people go skiing but we played in a summer show in a performing art center. Then the promoter released all these beach balls, like giant balls in the room so that people would be throwing balls all around and a ball arrived on our bass player’s section of the stage, -he’s from France so he knows how to kick a ball really hard- and he ran and he kicked the ball.. it went straight to this girl’s face in the front row. He felt so bad about it but she was fine. Luckily it was a beach ball so she didn’t break her nose or anything but I don’t think that we had this crazy moment that you could say “WOW that was a crazy-live experience”.

Vahagni: I think the majority of the crazy stuff that happens to Paco Versailles is normally after shows and the majority of them are not to be told!

What are your next professional plans?

Vahagni: We’re gonna keep recording music… we finished out the live shows for the year and right now is all about putting together the next group of songs. Also planning for live dates in 2023. We really feel like we want to put this band out to as many cities and countries and in front of as many people as possible. Ιt’s like preaching the gospel of Paco!

What’s your motto in life?

Vahagni: The first thing that pops into my mind is just love. I think when you approach your life with love, other people with love, your work with love and everything you do with love, it makes your life a lot easier and it makes everything more beautiful around you. Always have this positive outlook and just do things that you’re loving to. Disregard the things that you don’t have any love for… and to make it simple, it’s like do anything with love!

Ryan: Unfortunately for some of us it’s hard to be in a positive mode all the time but from what I’ve learned over time is that the rollercoasters of life are unavoidable and so you have to just be neutral, observe them and ride to them. That’s something that we experience especially in the music industry because it’s such an up-and-down thing. One minute you feel like everything is going to work out and the next minute you’re like “I’m terrible”, “I suck”, “this isn’t going to work out”, and so you have to make sure that you don’t attach to any of those ideas, that you’re on top of the world or at the bottom of it. You have to ride through the roller-coaster basically and that applies to all aspects of life too because it is a roller-coaster.

Interview: Theodore Kolliopoulos

Back To Top