Rostam is the solo moniker of multi-instrumentalist/producer Rostam Batmanglij, who balances experimental sounds and heartfelt intimacy in all the music he makes. He first earned acclaim as a member of Vampire Weekend, whose chart-topping and Grammy nominated 2010 album Contra he produced. Batmanglij soon became an in-demand producer and collaborator, blending pop, rock, and electronic music fluently as he worked with artists ranging from Carly Rae Jepsen and Charli XCX to Hamilton Leithauser and Ra Ra Riot. As a solo artist, the artful production and songwriting of his memoiristic 2017 debut album Half-Light and 2021′s Changephobia immerse his listeners in the stories he tells.
The son of Iranian immigrants and brother of filmmaker Zal Batmanglij, Rostam grew up in Washington, D.C. and began making electronic music at age 14. While majoring in music at Columbia University, he joined Vampire Weekend in 2006. As a multi-instrumentalist and producer, he helped shape the band’s lively, literate sound. Their second album, 2010′s Contra, topped the Billboard 200 Albums chart in the U.S. and earned a Grammy nomination for Best Alternative Music Album. On 2013′s Modern Vampires of the City, he shared production credits with longtime friend Ariel Rechtshaid.
As Vampire Weekend’s eclectic indie rock earned fans and acclaim, Batmanglij branched out. Discovery, a synth pop project with Ra Ra Riot’s Wes Miles that also featured Angel Deradoorian, appeared in 2009. A year later, he collaborated with Kid Cudi and Best Coast’s Bethany Cosentino on “All Summer,” a track released by Converse. He issued his first solo tracks, “Wood” and “Don’t Let It Get to You,” in 2011. He also worked with his brother Zal on projects including the score to the 2011 film Sound of My Voice and a song for 2013′s The East. The following year was an especially busy one: In 2014, Batmangli worked with Charli XCX on her album Sucker and produced “Need Ur Luv,” which appeared on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]. He produced former Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser’s solo debut album Black Hours (and also co-wrote two of its songs), and composed the music for the Kenneth Lonergan play This Is Our Youth. His collaborations in 2015 included “Warm Blood” from Carly Rae Jepsen’s E-MO-TION, “Water” from Ra Ra Riot’s Need Your Light, and time in the studio with PC Music impresario A.G. Cook.
Shortly after announcing his departure from Vampire Weekend in early 2016, Batmanglij made his debut as Rostam with the songs “EOS” and “Gravity Don’t Pull Me.” Later in the year, he teamed up with Leithauser again for I Had a Dream That You Were Mine and composed the music for The OA, Zal’s television series. In 2017, Batmangli’s work on HAIM’s Something to Tell You and Declan McKenna’s What Do You Think About the Car? preceded the release of Rostam’s debut album Half-Light, an impressionistic set of songs inspired by the duality of his experiences as a gay man and the child of immigrants. The following September, he issued the single “In a River.” Batmanglij produced Clairo’s 2019 debut album Immunity and also worked on Vampire Weekend’s Father of the Bride, which topped the Billboard 200 and won a 2020 Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. Along with Rechtshaid and Danielle Haim, he co-produced HAIM’s acclaimed 2020 album Women in Music, Pt. III before releasing another single, “Unfold You,” that October. The song also appeared on Rostam’s second album, June 2021′s Changephobia. A set of songs exploring the impact of changes big and small, it found Batmanglij moving away from the classical influences of his previous music in favor of R&B and jazz elements. ~ Heather Phares