To die-hard indie rock fans, Rostam Batmanglij has been a name continuously tied to Vampire Weekend. He was known for being the brains behind the band’s production, notorious for his genre-bending sounds and influences on indie rock as an Iranian-American immigrant–he also came out as a gay man in 2010. After the announcement that he would be departing from Vampire Weekend in an early 2016 Tweet, the future of Vampire Weekend and Rostam’s work as a solo artist was unknown. Stressing that his “identity as a songwriter & producer needs to stand on its own,” fans were forced to wait until music from either act would be released.
Aside from his time in Vampire Weekend, Rostam spent time producing music for the likes of Frank Ocean, Solange, HAIM, Carly Rae Jepsen, and a handful of other rising artists. Fast forward to the last few months of 2017, and Vampire Weekend has yet to release a follow up to their 2013 album, Modern Vampires of The City. This comes as no surprise, as fans spent the majority of 2016 wondering what direction the music would take without Rostam’s influence and production.
Rostam released three singles: “Gwan,” “Bike Dream,” and “Half-Light,” to promote his debut album, Half-Light, which was released on Sep. 15, 2017.
The album has received positive reviews from major critics. Rolling Stone praised his ability to “refuse to choose between his former group’s Ivy League-aesthete indie rock and modern vernacular electro-pop, opting instead to cherry-pick the best of both worlds.” Consequence of Sound proposes the idea that Rostam’s departure from Vampire Weekend as one of the most significant music moments in the 10s, calling his work on Half-Light “lush, baroque production that interwove disparate elements to craft lovely art-rock.
It goes without saying that listening to Half-Light can convince any listener that his influence was highly critical in Vampire Weekend’s success as a band. Half-Light, a body of work that has been continuously constructed and reconstructed since 2010, is a strong example of Rostam’s vision as a solo artist, pushing him to the front of the stage off of the sidelines.
Amidst the success of Half-Light, Rostam has been kept busy. He recently appeared on Conan to perform “Gwan,” appeared on KCRW, and announced a European tour that starts on Nov. 1 in Paris and ends on Nov. 14 in London. He has a couple headlining shows coming up in Philadelphia and L.A.
While it is up in the air as to whether or not Rostam will be announcing a full North American tour to support Half-Light, we will surely be waiting with anticipation (and hope).