Exclusive Interview With Navid Izadi

Hailing from San Fransisco, Navid Izadi makes it an art to combine multiple influences in his music, his earlier experiences constantly resonating through his productions. But his creative output doesn’t stop there. Besides Dj’ing and producing groovy tracks, Navid Izadi has done a few vocal features on tracks from the likes of Soul Clap and PillowTalk. He  writes all of the lyrics himself, by the way. Last week we had a mix by the American talent, this week part II in his instalment: an open-hearted interview with Navid, covering subjects like his inspirations, his hometown San Francisco and performing live.

So we definitely sense a west coast American vibe in your tunes. I have never been to San Francisco, but I have heard more than enough good things to put it on the top of our list of places to visit. We hear you were somewhat of a big clubgoer in SF, can you describe the nightlife there for us?
The city’s quite small. I’d say the majority of people know each other or know of each other. There are wider circles and smaller circles, but for the most part, going out in SF can feel more like rave highschool than the classic big city vibe. The bonds between friends are super close and familial, so kids tend to keep going strong far past their bedtimes if it means getting some extra time in with their party pals. Also, it seems most people are DJs, producers, or just big music nerds, so the quest to discover and present the best, most interesting music is definitely a factor. The city in general is extremely eclectic. Mix those elements with SF’s fabled open-mindedness and general batshit craziness, and things can get pretty fun (read: out of hand) pretty quickly.

Ultimately, how fun your night will be depends mostly on whom you’re spending it with. Find the right band of misfits to roll with though, and you’ll probably need to cancel your plans for the next couple of days…

Out of the places you have been booked for shows this year, what has been your favorite new place?
Everywhere I’ve been so far has had something beautiful to show and something to teach. If I have to pick though, the locations that come to mind are Colombia, Corsica and Tokyo. As far as my favorite shows though, the Crew Love showcases are the best (duh).

Were you able to make it to Burning man this year? If so, how was it?
Not this year, which is unfortunate because I really wanted to go back. I went in 2010 and 2011, I think. Wasn’t able to go this time because of some scheduling conflicts, but I heard it was a great year! I’ll definitely be there next round.

Who is Navid Izadi as an artist and how would you like other people to see you?
That’s deep, man. Honestly, I would like if people spent less time seeing me as anything and spent more time getting down to the music.

Inspiration wise, who is your big example?  
So much different stuff it’s really hard to be specific. Growing up, mostly a lot of Hip-Hop producers. Primo, Hi-Tek, Dan the Automater, [J] Dilla, Quik, Pharell, and others. Also, I grew up on pop stars like Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna, etc. My dad played a lot of Police, Bob Marley, Sade, Dire Straights, and things like that. There’s a very long list of 80s stuff that I’m probably most influenced by, boogie, funk, nuwave and darkwave stuff. John Carpenter’s a legend. Love Tom Tom Club and their whole vibe. Love a lot of psychedelic 70s music, especially Turkish and Persian stuff from then. As far as house music, Moodymann, Pal Joey, Mood II Swing, Jamie Principle, Larry Heard, Morgan Geist and a bunch more. Currently in music, I think Dev Hynes (Blood Orange) and Dam Funk are killin the game.

I love to find those universal elements that connect the dots between different sources or eras of inspiration, then through a kind of alchemy, attempt to create something unique and personal.

Probably the best night I have ever had in New York was making it out to the Crew Love New Years show at that church in Bushwick. At first it felt extremely odd celebrating in a church but I got over it real quick (haha).  How was that whole experience for you?
Wow that night was crazy. I remember being at the sound check and it was so fucking cold we could barely get through it. You could see your breath and everybody crowded around the one little heater we had. Once the night got crackin and warmed up a bit, though, it became truly one of the most memorable nights I’ve had. Seeing people dancing under the glow of club lights and laser beams on the high balcony of this rusty old church was mind-blowing. It was also the first official Crew Love party so playing for the first time alongside everybody in the family was really special for me.

What piece of equipment are you using the most at the moment?
Let’s see, a Prophet 12, Juno 60, xoxbox (303 clone), Roland drum machines (808, 707, 727), Maschine, Korg R3, Strymon Reverb and delay pedals, Neumann mic, a whole slew of percussion stuff, and various other who’s-its and what’s-its. I’m lucky enough to get my hands on a bunch of friends’ gear a lot and try to make the most of it when I can. My mom hooked me up with some classical Persian drum and string instruments that sounds out of this world. Also, I’ve been traveling a lot so I’m using a lot more plugins and softsynths, as well. Arturia, U-he, Korg, Native Instruments, and a few others are in the rotation.

Remixing, Producing, DJing, Live performance what is your favorite, what is it that we can wake you up for?
Love them all for different reasons. Playing live can be the most exciting and it’s what I’m the most comfortable doing. That being said, I also love to DJ and have that kind of dialogue with people. You can more directly manage a vibe, and that can be more fun and gratifying. Remixing is a blast because there’s already a foundation of inspiration (at least there should be) and it’s a cool kind of game to find the balance between the two visions.

It’s in production, though, that I have an opportunity to connect to that inner creator we all have. I love the sense of chaos, the infinity, getting lost in possibilities. It’s also the thing in my life that I can constantly learn and grow and push myself for. So I guess it take’s the cake.

How was the experience with your first few gigs as Navid Izadi LIVE?
Great! Obviously there were some kinks and things that got worked out, but for the most part it all moved along pretty naturally and quickly. Luckily, my nerves never got the best of me, because I had a couple big shows early on playing alongside PillowTalk and kind of jumped right into playing for big crowds. It ended up being much scarier to think about than to actually come through for and execute, thank goodness.

As a vocalist yourself, who are some of your favorite singers?
Obvious stuff mostly. Nina Simone, James Brown, Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Freddie Mercury, Bob Marley, David Bowie, Sade, Prince, John Lennon. Also, I love the Persian singer Googoosh, who was a psychedelic pop legend in pre-revolutionary Iran.

Can you share some of the projects you are planning? Are you planning any collaborations soon?
I have a few remixes for guys in the crew coming soon. There’s an EP coming on TOC [Touch Of Class], Michael from PillowTalk’s new label. I’ve been pretty busy working towards an album that I can hopefully get out sometime around next summer. Besides that, a couple collaborative efforts, some fun mixtape type stuff, and a couple other secrets in the works, as well. Staying very busy!

Down here in Miami we have the pleasure of seeing Baby Prince around somewhat often, how is it to work with him?
I love to work with Gadi. It’s always really loose and casual, and there are lots of laughs. There’s times when we can bang stuff out within a matter of hours, and times we just play around for days with tons of different sounds ideas and just kind of stay open and have fun with it. Either way it’s a good time.

Hope you had fun playing at the Pickle last month! After missing out on playing there for WMC we hope it lived up to your expectations. Did you get some Cuban food?­­­
Two years ago I was at the WMC party there and I performed with PillowTalk for their last song and then had to run upstairs to perform with Deniz Kurtel for her first. That was a really fun early experience, so it felt very cool and full circle to be there playing live and DJing on my own. I had a blast. Sadly though, there was no Cuban food this time around.

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