Associated Students Rock the Quad with Visa

With their infusion of English lyrics and Latin/Mediterranean rhythm, the hip swaying nostalgic style world music band, Visa, put on a performance for Santa Monica College students and staff alike during Tuesday's activity hour.

Tuesday afternoon was full of buzz and enjoyment as the Associated Students organized an event featuring the experimental world music of Visa, performed live for hundreds of students in front of the newly built quad.

The performance lasted for the duration of activity hour, as students munched on tasty baklava dessert while listening to the soulful Middle Eastern style tunes.

Visa, comprised of members with Armenian, Greek, Japanese and Puerto Rican backgrounds, was formed in 2000 when K'noup started the group while playing in his hometown of Astoria, a sub-section of Queens, New York.

The members include Orbel Babayan, lead guitarist, Shant Bismejian, electric guitarist, Alex Khatcherian, bassist, Suguru Onaka, keyboards, Chris Daniel, percussions, Hiram Rosario, drums, Jivan Gasparyan Jr., world music instrumentalist, and K'noup, lead vocalist.

"We're eight guys each bringing in a piece of our background to create such an exquisite blend of music that anyone can enjoy," said K'noup, lead vocalist of the band.

"Originally, the project started eight years ago when I played back home in Astoria," said K'noup. "But the band really took to new heights when all of us came together four years ago."

Aside from K'noup, who garnered his Mediterranean style vocals from his native country Greece, all the band members are local L.A. residents.

"All of us can relate to the music we're playing because of our background and our experiences," said lead guitarist, Orbel Babayan. "We just hope that everyone can enjoy and feel the rhythm of our music."
The A.S., SMC's student body government, organized Tuesday's event with limited amount of time and notice.

"We just put this event together in a little less than a week, but this is such a great event," said Raphael Sisa, A.S. Director of Activities. "I just want see more multi-cultural bands and events take place here at SMC."

Raphael, among others on the board of A.S., organized the event as a string of other up-coming events to promote the A.S. as much as possible.

"We're planning on using the new quad as much as we can and to create a community base between the students and the A.S. board," said Sisa. "We're planning and hoping to have events spilling out of the pores of this place."

Tuesday's event drew in so much attention that for a good 10 minutes or so, the enormous crowd of students gathered around to see the band and mingle with several A.S. staff members, blocked off the entire walkway of the quad.

For years the A.S. have been alienated by most of the student body due to a lack of communication and interest. But this year, all of that will change by the recently elected A.S. president, David Chun, and his newly appointed staff who have been proactively reaching out to the students.

"Our mission here today is to get the students attention and interest in the A.S.," said A.S. Vice president, Jafet Santiago.

With the new staff trying to get more supporters, and the student body seemingly more interested in campus events, the A.S. board sees a future of greater things to come on the horizon.

"We're very excited to see so many people gathering around our event today," said Santiago. "Honestly, I thought we would only get about a hundred people today. But as you can see, the turn-out far exceeded my imagination."

They hope that their next event will garner as many people as it did today.

The next event held on October 16th, Rock the Vote, will feature representatives from both the McCain and Obama campaigns who will speak to the students on behalf of their parties respectively.

Sisa stressed the issue to have more people involved with A.S. activities.

"I'm encouraging more people to stop by and attend meetings at the A.S. office located above the Cayton Center," said Sisa. "The new A.S. website will be launched within the next three weeks, but in the meantime students can contact us at"

"From what it looks like today, I can't wait to see what Raphael has in store for us in the future," said Santiago.

All students who showed up at the event truly showed great amounts of enthusiasm and interest of the band, and were really positive towards the A.S.

Noah Rinsky, a new student at SMC from Colorado, said, "It's pretty incredible to see how they put up an event like this in such short notice."

For more information on the band, check out their official website at

To purchase any of their music or to see their complete discography check out the iTunes© music store.