Arto Tuncboyaciyan (born 4 August 1957 in Istanbul) is a Grammy winning musician of Armenian descent. An avant-garde folk artist (singer, multi-instrumentalist), Tuncboyaciyan appeared on more than 200 records in Europe before arriving in the United States, where he went to work with jazz legends including Chet Baker, Marc Johnson, Al Di Meola, and Joe Zawinul as well as a semi-regular stint with Paul Winter and the Earth Band.
In 1985 Nigh Ark was founded, led by Ara Dinkjian. Arto recorded a duo project with Ara Dinkjian - Tears of Dignity (1994) and Onno (1996) homage to his brother Onno who died in a plane crash in 1996. These compositions were a clear expression of Arto's memories of his brother. In 1988, his first solo albums Virginland and Main Root were released. In 1997 Aile Muhabbeti was released in Turkey and used as a movie soundtrack. Arto composed the songs of this new album with various Armenian and Turkish musicians. In 2000 his next album Every Day is a New Life was released.
After 35 years of exploring music on various stages of the world, Arto Tuncboyaciyan realised that he was looking for open minded and enthusiastic musicians, something he hadn’t found in either the Western jazz scene nor in his Anatolian homeland. Looking for answers, Arto decided to visit Armenia, the country of his ancestors. Two years later, in 1998, he returned to the capital, Yerevan and met pianist and keyboardist Vahagn Hayrapetyan. He asked Vahagn to introduce him to other musicians in town to find out, if eventually, he could start a new band project with them. Ten musicians got together for a first rehearsal and soon become what today is called Armenian Navy Band.
Some months later, in 1999, the band recorded their first album “Bzdik Zinvor” in Yerevan. The recording was followed by their first European tour in 2000, where they gained the hearts of the audiences in Italy, Germany, Austria and Spain with their Avant-garde Folk Music. The band then performed concerts in France, Belgium and the Netherlands. During a 2001 stopover in Istanbul, Armenian Navy Band recorded their second album “New Apricot”.
Arto's next album was Türkce sözlü hafif anadolu müzigi (Light Anatolian music with Turkish words), (with the Armenian Navy Band) recorded in the winter of 2001. Serart is a collaboration with Serj Tankian (lead singer of System of a Down), after finding common ground in shared Armenian backgrounds and a passion for sonic explorations in creating music that is claimed to be "completely new."
In the fall of 2003, a new project was born in a Yerevan studio. It was the beginning of a large sound project called “Sound of Our Life - Part One: Natural Seeds”. The project was put together by Arto and the Armenian Navy Band, who joined their talents one more time in the fall of 2006 for Part Two. Arto considers these albums his music diaries. They are one-hour-long compositions for ANB and choir & string orchestras.
Arto's original compositions express the sound of the past generations along with today's life. This is what he calls "avant-garde folk". We can say that the Armenian Navy Band represents the synthesis of Arto's musical journey and life experiences. As an ensemble with particular virtuosity, the band has great ability in performing live music and compositions taken from the tradition and from the current culture of Armenia. The Armenian Navy Band is, without a doubt, the most comprehensive expression of Arto Tuncboyaciyan’s 46-year-old musical journey, of his virtuosity as a composer, multi-instrumentalist and singer, as well as of his life experience and philosophy.
In 2004 Arto opened the “ANB Avant-garde Folk Music Club” in the historical heart of Yerevan. A year later, the band released their first Armenian album, urging the world to protect natural habitat of Armenia. In 2006, the Armenian Navy Band was nominated for the Best Band of Europe and the Audience Award at the 2006 BBC World Music Awards.
There is a hidden track on the album Toxicity by System of a Down (right after the song "Aerials"), where Arto contributed, with the band playing a traditional Armenian Church hymn, Der Voghormya (Lord Have Mercy). This track is commonly known as Arto, seeing as he was a significant part of it. He also played the instrumental part of "Science" in the same album, and his voice can be heard a couple of times in the interlude of "Bubbles", from Steal This Album!
In 2007 he formed Yash-ar with fellow Turkish-Armenian rock artist Yaşar Kurt. Yash-ar is made up of first part of his and Yaşar Kurt's first names. In February 2011, Arto, as a band-member of The Paul Winter Consort, won the Grammy for the "Best New Age Album" for “Miho: Journey to the Mountain”.
"Music is the time of my life. I don’t give direction to anybody. I let you imagine for yourself, but what I try to give you is Love, Respect, Truth. I believe this is the simplest form of wealth in this world for the path to trust and this is what we need."