Saigon Would Be Seoul is the solo project from Mirza Ramic of the electronic music duo Arms and Sleepers.
While spending most of his adult life in the US, Mirza was born in Bosnia & Herzegovina and lived there until 1992, when the Bosnian War forced his family to flee the country. Mirza and his mother would spend the next few years moving across continents, countries and states as refugees. Mirza’s father did not survive the war; he was killed by a mortar shell in 1993. This personal journey of trauma, loss and survival is at the core of the project’s DNA.
As with the debut album Everywhere Else Left Behind (2019), the upcoming new full-length album The Human Stain deals with Mirza’s roots: “This album is a story of my hometown: Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina (formerly Yugoslavia). Conceptually it is divided into three parts: the calm and normal pre-war years, the barbaric war years, and the psychologically painful post-war years (aka the “stain”). All of the archival sounds used on the album are recordings from my hometown/region, and the album cover is a picture of a destroyed shopping center which I used to visit often when I was young. While my debut album dealt with my personal struggle to mentally process the past, including the loss of my father who was killed during the war in 1993, the new album deals with my hometown and its history.“
With the debut album Everywhere Else Left Behind (2019), Mirza made a short documentary film, it is a very important piece for the Saigon Would Be Seoul project.
To Tell A Ghost is a short documentary film directed by Chris Piotrowicz and Stefan Ehrhardt. It tells the story of Mirza Ramic, the Bosnian-born, American-based musician and one half of the electronic music duo Arms and Sleepers. While spending most of his adult life in the US, Mirza was born in Bosnia & Herzegovina and lived there until 1992 when the Bosnian War forced his family to flee the country. Mirza and his mother, Selma, would spend the next few years moving across continents, countries and states as refugees — living in Tunisia, Egypt, Italy, Croatia, Czech Republic, Arizona, and Massachusetts. Mirza’s father, Ibrahim “Ibrica”, did not survive the war; he was killed by a mortar shell in 1993. Mirza’s mother, a piano teacher, introduced the piano to him at the age of 6. Subsequently, the piano became the one constant in their lives as they kept changing environments and moving further away from Bosnia & Herzegovina. To Tell A Ghost captures Mirza’s attempt to process personal loss and childhood memories while finding healing through music.
Musically, however, the new album is a departure from the solo piano pieces that defined the debut release. Taking on a more dark ambient, experimental jazz sound, the Saigon Would Be Seoul project looks to venture even deeper into the vast post-classical genre. While the earlier works could be compared to the music of artists such as Chilly Gonzales, the new material finds more in common with the moody atmosphere of acts such as Bohren & Der Club Of Gore.