I can't imagine my day without music: Eleven Green guitarist Khoren Mikayelyan on his musical path, inspirations

12:08, May 17

Armenian guitar player Khoren Mikayelyan, also known as Mik Aelian, says he can't imagine his day without music. "Music is something I can't stop doing. It's a huge inspiration for me," Khoren says in his interview with STYLE.  

The 34-year-old co-founder, lead guitar player, and music producer of bands Eleven Green, Mik Aelian and Nairi, got introduced to guitar when he was 15. He started his musical path by playing the violin; but once he was gifted with his first guitar, that was love at first sight. The musician started practicing it independently, with his favorite rock bands as an inspiration.   

"I have always loved rock music; Deep Purple, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and many other rock bands and artists have inspired me a lot. We have been listening to this music at home since I was a little child. My family members are musicians, they are more into a classical style, but I preferred rock because of the freedom this genre gives you," Mikayelyan said.   

He quickly began getting involved in the local music scene as a sought-after guitarist while at the same time completing his Bachelor's Degree in French Horn Performance at Yerevan State Conservatory. 

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His fresh musical vision and virtuosic style are a unique blend of traditional Armenian folk music and rock fusion. That's how he made his path from the Nairi band to Mik Aelian, then to Eleven Green, performing different types of his favorite music. During that time he has produced several albums with his band mates: Cross Stone (2009, Nairi), Mer Nury Mer Tunn E (2014, Nairi), Injacktion (2016, Mik Aelian), and Against the odds (2023, Eleven Green).  

His musical selection was not only rewarding, but also crucial to him. Khoren and Nare Nikoyan, the vocalist of Eleven Green, met while still performing in Nairi. The two found a lot of common interests and were bonded not only by music, but also by life.   A number of concerts in Armenia and tours worldwide are not the only achievements the guitar player has obtained. In 2013, in the international guitar competition Mnogolikaya Gitara in Moscow, he won second place in the rock guitar category and received the title of laureate. In 2018, Khoren was recognized as the best guitar player at the Yamaha International E-Band Competition. A year later, during the gala Rock Aid Armenia 30th anniversary, he won the Iommi_Gibson_Mediamax Contest, during which Gibson Guitars representatives and Tony Iommi chose his performance to be the best, personally handing Khoren a Gibson SG Guitar with his autograph․  

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He used music and art also as a tool for community work with young people, and he believes that music is not only a cultural language, but also an international communication language.  

Since 2014,  Khoren has been the executive director of  Sistema Armenia cultural foundation, organizing musical exchange programs in Armenia, with the participation of professional musicians from the US and Europe. They have carried out a number of musical programs, and some afterschool projects, which were purchased in Yerevan and Dilijan.  
Since 2018, Khoren is the co-founder and executive director of InMotion Armenia NGO, which aims to become a bridge between Armenian and European youth, organizing exchange and educational programs. Now the musician is going to lead an exchange program in Ireland, presenting a musical program he has developed. The program will be attended by many young musicians from Armenia, Spain, Romania, and Ireland.   

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The guitarist has gained experience not only by collaborating with various musicians from all over the world. He is also a participant in numerous intercultural exchange programs in Europe and US.  

As a guitar player, Khoren has been mentored by world-renowned musicians Bruce Bartlett (Professor at Berklee College of Music) and Мattias IA Eklundh, Tigran Hamasyan, and Armenian State Jazz Orchestra Guitar player Arthur Soghoyan.  

In 2016, he co-founded the NEXUS art center aiming to share his experience with the younger generation. In 2020, during the war in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), the center organized musical classes for the kids evacuated from Artsakh.   

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Khoren says participation in contests has had a huge impact on him as a performer, so he decided to found Synergy Guitar Competition in collaboration with Fender and D’Addario world-renowned representatives. It aims to form a platform for young guitar players who, besides performing on stage, also get the opportunity to communicate with more experienced guitar players and musicians. The contest was a great success in Armenia, and that’s why Khoren decided to take it to an international level following its organization in Georgia. Now he is working on transferring it to Europe as well.    

The guitarist says he is now working on his dream, which is to play Aram Khachaturian’s Violin Concerto accompanied by an orchestra.

Syune Arakelyan

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