Sometimes, band members find more success in going solo. Superstars like Gwen Stefani, Justin Timberlake and Beyoncé were once part of successful groups, but decided to carve their own path. Now ex-Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij is doing the same. With an impressive catalog of work already under his belt, the road ahead looks bright. So, we decided to take a look at his past, present, and his future.
Nearly a decade ago, while majoring in music at Columbia University, Batmanglij and three of his peers formed a band, now known as Vampire Weekend. Batmanglij was a guitarist, keyboardist, and one of the two main vocalists in the band.
He went on to produce both their self-titled debut and sophomore album, Contra and designed the cover art for both as well.
After fellow Vampire Weekend member Chris Baio released a solo project on the side late last year, Batmanglij decided it was time to retire from the band he spent close to ten years with.
Towards the end of January, Batmanglij stated in a tweet that though he was no longer a member of Vampire Weekend, but would continue to work on music with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, as well as writing and producing on future songs from his former band.
Since leaving the band, he’s collaborated with artists from all different ends of the musical spectrum, both writing and producing for artists like Kid Cudi, Diplo, Charlie XCX, and Carly Rae Jepsen, all while still contributing work to Vampire Weekend.
This year, Batmanglij has released two solo songs, both accompanied by videos. Last week, Batmanglij, who now goes just by Rostam, released a new single titled, Gravity Don’t Pull Me.
In the song, Rostam describes his feelings for a boy who broke his heart. His soft crooning of lyrics float over a moody, synth-heavy beat, one that sounds like it could have been pulled straight from a SNES game.
Gravity Don’t Pull Me also features trap-inspired hi-hats and a heavy electronic influence, which shouldn’t necessarily come as a surprise, given Rostam’s background with the band Discovery, a group he created with Wesley Miles of Ra Ra Riot in 2005.
Rostam has pulled influences from all corners of his career for his new material. Whether it be from his early synth-pop electronic work, his time spent working on soundtracks for movies like The East (directed by his brother, Zal) or his depressing vocals from his work with Vampire Weekend.
The soft, Vampire Weekend influence is still there in his vocals, but the content he’s singing has more personal depth to it. The lyrics read more like ballads, like on his song EOS, which Rostam released in January.
Rostam may have left Vampire Weekend, but he took parts of their song-making blueprint with him. It would be hard to listen to the songs he has released this year and not hear the influence of his former band in the sounds of his voice: worried, depressed, bare.
The poetic lyrics are something that fans of Vampire Weekend will immediately recognize, but may not enjoy, as they’re coupled with electronic production rather than the usual rock-based instrumentation.
Though we’ve only heard two solo songs from Rostam in his post-Vampire-Weekend era, they are both big hitters, emotionally and sonically.
Rostam is expected to release a solo album later this year via XL recordings, and according to Koenig, Vampire Weekend are also gearing up to prepare a new album, which Rostam may still play a role in.
Rostam’s past ten years with Vampire Weekend have been successful, and the band’s fan-base should still be excited for what he has in store next. Whether it be writing love ballads, producing dancey synth-pop, or sharing his views on American politics, we’ll be eagerly waiting for whatever he releases next.