Scott Liken of Istanbul Cymbals

By Phil Hood Published December 3, 2009

Name: Scott Liken
Age: 38
Position: General Manager, Istanbul Cymbals USA
Years in music business: 7 Years in musical instruments, prior to that about 7 years in the recording industry.

Xist is a new line of cymbals from Agop. What was the original idea for this line?
The idea was to make a professional quality, versatile series at a price that would be accessible to a drummer on almost any budget.

Were there any special challenges to making the Xist line?
Yes - some strange ones, actually. But the main issue was making something we all thought was really great and deserving of our name.

Is there a typical Xist drummer or are you finding that different types of drummers are interested in the cymbals?
I feel like its the same as it is with most things we make. When they listen with their ears instead of their eyes, a player with some imagination will find that there is a universe of possibilities in a quality instrument, and you can use it in many situations. When we made the XIST series, the criteria was more or less the same as it always is- would I want use this? Would I want to hear this on a record, or being used by one of my favorite bands?

The end result has turned out quite well, actually. A lot of our guys are using them in different ways, and in different settings. Joey Waronker has been using the hi hats for recording and some live scenarios where he needs something a little more focused. Eric Gardner literally just sent me a text message saying "Using the Xist hats and 20" Crash on the Ironman 2 soundtrack right now and they sound unbelievable!!" Dave Turncrantz has been using them on tour with Russian Circles, and they sound incredible in that context too. Thats three distinctly different players who have chosen to use them because they like the way they sound. In terms of guys who might buy them at the store, I really hope its the same - that many different kinds of drummers choose them because their imaginations are inspired by them and because they hear possibilites. Then they can be pleasantly surprised by the price.

What's the tonal difference betweeen the lathed finish or the brilliant finish?
Generally speaking, with all other things being equal, brilliant cymbals have a brighter attack and the overtones tend to be a little bit smoother and more even. That holds true with Xist as well.

Do you have a favorite cymbal in the line?
I love the 14" Brilliant Hats and the 18" Natural Crash. There's another one I really love, too. But you'll have to wait until NAMM [the annual music trade show in January, 2010] to see what that is.

Are Xist available in all of your stores yet or are they still getting into the retail channel?
They're finding their way into stores now. In some territories, its been relatively easy to get them into the market. In other places, its taking a little bit of time. It is definitely new territory for us, and I think retailers and consumers alike are beginning to open up to the idea of us making instruments like these. We're just now starting to actively market the series, and we are definitely in it for the long haul. We at the company all genuinely believe these are the most musical cymbals available at this price and even well above it.

What's next for the Xist line?
We're looking to expand on it in 2010 with some new sizes and models. At our core, we're artisans, not manufacturers. That, I think, is an important distinction to make. We're always looking to improve our instruments, so you should expect that we will expand on the series in interesting, creative and surprising ways over time beyond 2010.