As Waters


As Waters is the artist name and self-titled debut album of guitarist/singer-songwriter Tristan Avakian.

Created over the course of two North American tours, ‘As Waters’ is a classic heartbreak album, much like ‘Blood On The Tracks’ (Bob Dylan), ‘For Emma Forever Ago’ (Bon Iver), ‘21’ (Adele), ‘Back To Black’ (Amy Winehouse), ‘Vulnicura’ (Bjork) and ‘Sea Change’ (Beck). Similar to these works, it evolved spontaneously out of a necessary catharsis. “I started writing again for the first time in years, and to my surprise, it wasn’t like anything I’d ever done”, Avakian says. 

Born and raised in New York City, Tristan Avakian moved to Toronto in 2006. In spite of the fact that he is known principally as a musical theater/rock guitarist (including We Will Rock You, Rock of Ages, Hedwig, Book of Mormon and most recently, the award-winning Kinky Boots), the material on ‘As Waters’ is story and lyric driven, and the instrumentation comes in second. "It seemed to be a reaction against what I was doing for a living... certainly, there is drama, but it comes from the humble, stark texture. Not from glitz, spectacle, or instrumental virtuosity."
Written primarily on a battered acoustic, the songs lent themselves well to open mic nights and Tristan began to try them out in assorted cities while on the road with the various musical theater productions (from the spring of 2013 to the fall of 2014).  Avakian explains, “I tried to present one new song each time. The songs took on something of the cultural identity of whatever city I was in, refracted through what I was feeling at the time... eventually I had a body of work. And people whose opinion I respected were telling me to make an album."
On a tour stop in Nashville, Tristan recorded three songs with Grammy winning producer Gary Gold (, which was enough to secure a successful Indiegogo campaign in June 2014. He continued writing on the road, recording the rest of the songs in Los Angeles and taking them back to Nashville to mix. Several of the songs were given orchestral treatments, with arrangements by Steve Weisberg (Nick Cave, Hal Wilner, Marianne Faithful, Beth Orton, Lou Reed,  Aloe Blacc). 
The eclectic nature of the album demanded an organic approach. It goes though a variety of styles, all of which pre-date Woodstock, informed by a bracing post-punk sensibility instantly familiar to fans of modern songwriters like Ben Gibbard.
“The combination of these elements was strangely freeing.... As I approached the production stage, I realized I could do whatever I wanted,” Avakian states. "For example: Imagine Josh Homme fronting the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, singing a Leonard Cohen song you have never heard before. Because it is new. Track four is called “Amnesia”, and that’s more or less what it is. It's hard to apply the word 'fun' to something that is meant to be devastating...but it was kind of fun.”
More a soundtrack to an emotional odyssey than an attempt at a top 40 “hit”, clearly this was not meant to be a laptop album. Featuring live performances captured in a classic studio setting, ‘As Waters’ evokes an era when things were made by hand, to be lasting and beautiful. "I was attracted to the humanity you hear in the music of the era. Also the variety. If you look at the #1 hits of the decade you see that they are in so many different genres. So I made it like a time machine/radio.... it goes back as far as 1961, and flips around the dial."
The album includes nine original songs and one cover – Beck Hansen’s “Just Noise”, sourced from Song Reader (his sheet music book; Beck has never recorded it).