Shavo Odadjian

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Shavarsh (Shavo) Odadjian
Շավարշ Օդաջյան
ShavoBass.jpg
Odadjian live in concert
Background information
Birth name Shavarsh S. Odadjian
Also known as DJ Tactic (1998–present)
DJ DecompozeR (2009 –present)
Born (1974-04-22) April 22, 1974 (age 40)
Origin Yerevan, Armenian SSR, USSR
Genres Heavy metal, experimental, alternative metal, art rock, alternative rock, hip hop
Occupations Musician, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, music video director
Instruments Bass guitar, double bass, guitar, vocals, mandolin, oud, sitar, drums, violin, turntables, sampler, keytar
Years active 1992–present
Labels American, Columbia, urSESSION
Associated acts System of a Down, Achozen, George Clinton
Notable instruments
Gibson Thunderbird
Ibanez BTB
Fender Jazz Bass
Music Man StingRay

Shavarsh "Shavo" Odadjian (born April 22, 1974) is an Armenian American songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, music video director/editor, music producer, and artist/painter. He is best known as the bassist, backing vocalist and occasional songwriter of the Grammy Award-winning rock band System of a Down. During the band's hiatus from 2006 to 2010, Odadjian collaborated with Wu Tang Clan founder The RZA on a project called Achozen, which contributed a number of songs to the motion picture Babylon A.D. Odadjian is also credited with the musical scoring of the film, alongside with The Rza and Hans Zimmer. He regularly uses a Gibson Thunderbird bass, a Fender Jazz Bass, and an Ibanez BTB bass guitar. He used a Music Man StingRay when he started to play with the band.

Early life[edit]

Shavo Odadjian was born in Yerevan, Armenian SSR. Odadjian moved to Los Angeles at a very young age. He attended the Alex Pilibos Elementary School in Los Angeles, an Armenian parochial school, along with future bandmates Daron Malakian and Serj Tankian, although they were not acquainted at the time due to a gap in their ages.[1] During his youth, Shavo has stated that he spent most of his time skateboarding and listening to punk rock and heavy metal music. Among others, he credits Dead Kennedys, KISS, Slayer, The Beatles, and Black Sabbath as his favorite bands, and the most substantial influence on his musical development and career.[2]

Recording career[edit]

System of a Down[edit]

Main article: System of a Down
Odadjian with Serj Tankian at a 2013 System of a Down show in Paris

While attending college (majoring in Psychology and minoring in Art) and working in a bank, Odadjian began managing Soil -the band Daron Malakian and Serj Tankian were a part of in 1993. Shavo had met Malakian and Tankian in a recording studio, where he was recording with his own band. The two members called upon Shavo Odadjian for assistance, and Shavo became manager of the band. Shavo says in an early interview that securing System's first local gig was a struggle:

Odadjian's signature beard

In 1995, Odadjian became the permanent bassist of the band. They named themselves System of a Down, after a poem written by band mate Daron Malakian entitled "Victims of a Down." Odadjian was not keen on being labeled "Victims," and thought that the word "System" appealed to a much broader audience. The band has stated that they also wanted their CDs to be placed in stores alongside their favorite band, Slayer. It was at this time that Odadjian passed on his original managerial responsibilities to Velvet Hammer Music. Their first release was titled "Sugar." Soon after, drummer Andy Khachaturian joined the band but was replaced in 1997 by current drummer, John Dolmayan, due to a hand injury.[4]

Odadjian plays bass in System of a Down, and also sings live backing vocals. His usual style of playing bass is with a pick, although he also has been seen finger picking during certain songs. Shavo is credited with writing noted System of a Down songs, among them "Toxicity", "Sugar," "Jet-Pilot", "Bounce," "Mind," "Dreaming," and "U Fig." He has directed a majority of the band's music videos, and is responsible for stage design and lighting for each of their live performances.[5]

Physically Odadjian catches the eye through his notoriously scaling, braided beard, and spiked arm bracelet. Particularly Shavo's beard quickly became a part of his signature look.

Commenting on System of a Down's reputation for biting, socially and politically charged lyrics, Odadjian has rejected the label of System of a Down as a "political band" in interviews.[6] He has stated:

The band was on hiatus between 2006 and 2010, with group members focusing on outside projects. On November 23, 2010, System released an official statement declaring that they would play a number of European festivals in 2011, they will also be on tour in Western North America.

Reuniting for recent performances[edit]

On October 31, 2009, Shavo hosted the event "Halloween" at The Roxy, in which he and fellow System band mates Daron Malakian and John Dolmayan reunited to jam on stage and perform various songs together, including System of a Down's "Suite-Pee." [8] The System of a Down trio also came together on November 20, 2009 and performed System songs together for a benefit honoring coma-stricken Chi Cheng of The Deftones, with Chino Moreno of Deftones singing on lead vocals.[9]

AcHoZeN[edit]

Main article: Achozen

Odadjian started a side project in May 2006 named Achozen. Achozen is the musical alliance between Shavo, Wu-Tang Clan founder The RZA, Kinetic-9 (aka: Beretta 9 from Killarmy), and up-and-comer, the Reverend William Burke from Chicago. Achozen's mantra is:

The four principal members feel that their unique sound is not only spiritual in nature, but a new genre of "heavy hip hop," not "rap-metal." There are no heavy guitars on the album, but the sound is genre-blending. Most of the Achozen album was recorded at one of Shavo's two studios and produced by the Grammy-winning musician. The bulk of the beats were created by Shavo (only one or two samples were used on the entire record) who also played live instruments throughout, including bass and sitar. The RZA, who contributed his share of beats, Kinetic 9 and the Reverend William Burke sing a majority of the vocals and lyrics, which are, according to Shavo, "some of the most innovative, poetic and righteous words and vocals that I've ever heard." Shavo's vocals can also be heard on the Achozen tracks "Deuces," "Salute/Sacrifice," and other songs on the album.[10]

Shavo and The Rza performing live music from Achozen.

Achozen's debut features an eclectic array of guest performers that includes Funk-master George Clinton, Red Hot Chili Peppers' guitarist John Frusciante, Wu-Tang affiliate Killah Priest, Wu-Tang founding member GZA, emcee Sick Jacken from Psycho Realm, and Angolan rapper Leggezin Fin.

The music of Achozen is described by one writer as a cosmic experience in hip hop:

Odadjian has described Achozen as "a musical revolution. It is not just a band, it's a way of thinking." Rza and Shavo anticipate upcoming tours. Achozen also appears on the major motion picture, Babylon A.D., on which Achozen song "Deuces" is heard blaring at the introduction of the film.[12] Achozen's first live show was at the Key Club in L.A on December 1, 2006.[13]

On Friday, November 13, 2009 the second Achozen track "Salute/Sacrifice" was released exclusively as a free download on Odadjian's online art district and networking site, urSESSION.com from the upcoming Achozen debut album. The Achozen album was anticipated to be released in mid-2010, but has yet to be released, due in part to Odadjian's commitments to System of a Down.[14]

urSESSION[edit]

Main article: Ursession

In early 2008, Odadjian founded Ursession, a virtual online art district and networking site aimed at uniting artists of all genres and styles around the world. The website is also founded by Odadjian's long-time friend and entertainment attorney, Narb Avedissian. Power 106's World Famous Wake-Up Show Sway & King Tech (also MTV resident veejay) are partners in the site, providing exclusive archived, never-before-seen footage of Eminem, Dr. Dre, and other prominent rappers when they first began in the industry.[15]

In early 2008, urSESSION announced The 100K Battle, a contest for the online community in which the artist with the most votes by the community won a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles to perform on Power 106's The World-Famous Wake-Up Show, along with other prizes. [16]

DJing and other projects[edit]

In addition, Odadjian is a popular DJ in the LA area, taking part in such events as the "Rock/DJ Explosion" on March 2, 2001 at The Roxy in Hollywood, CA and collaborating with System of a Down bandmate Serj Tankian on Serart, the singer's collaboration album with multitalented Armenian musician Arto Tunçboyacıyan. Shavo goes by the name DJ Tactics, and spins a wide spectrum of music ranging from hip-hop, tech-house, classic rock, metal, and etc.

Recently[when?], Odadjian has appeared playing as part of the backing band of George Clinton (of Parliament/Funkadelic). In September 2008 he appeared (playing guitar instead of bass) in a live performance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno with Clinton. Shavo also appears on Clinton's 2008 album George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love, which features many guest musicians, including Shavo's Achozen bandmate RZA, former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, and Carlos Santana.

Odadjian spinning a set at a club in Hollywood, Ca.

Odadjian was executive producer for Abloom, a side project of members of Onesidezero, Snot, and Soulfly. Odadjian is currently mentoring the band Chameleon Conductor record their debut album. Shavo's younger brother Dave Odadjian plays bass in the band, alongside Shavo's cousin Harry Markarian, who plays the guitar.[17]

DecompoZeR[edit]

In September 2009, it was announced that Odadjian will be performing live as DecompoZeR in Europe in October. He will be accompanying Rza. DecompoZeR is Shavo's producer alias. He announced that completed tracks are anticipated to be released in 2010[dated info], including a brand-new GraveDiggaz track featuring Frukwan aka: The Gatekeeper. Other collaborations include 60 Second Assassin, Killah Priest, and others.[14]

Film[edit]

Directing and editing[edit]

Stating himself to be a "very visual person," Odadjian has directed and edited extensive music videos for System of a Down, including Aerials, Toxicity, Question! (Shavo states the video's idea was conceived from one of his dreams),[18] and Hypnotize. He also directed the Taproot video for the song, Mine.

Odadjian's directing style implements surreal atmospheric themes and integrates innovative methods in filming, inspired by Rod Serling (Twilight Zone).[19] Odadjian's Serling-esque style is apparent in System of a Down music videos "Aerials," "Question," and Taproot's video -also directed by Odadjian – "Mine." On May 15, 2007, it was revealed that Shavo Odadjian would be directing the first video from Bad Brains's album Build a Nation.[20] Director Shavo Odadjian makes an appearance at the end of the concert video with frontman H.R. The two are seen charismatically walking stage side, conversing and smoking together.

Scoring films[edit]

In 2007–2008, Odadjian and Rza teamed up with Hans Zimmer in scoring major motion-picture, summer blockbuster movie Babylon A.D., starring Vin Diesel.[21] Along with the song "Deuces," Shavo is credited with writing the songs "A Single Moment", "Foreshadow," "Blade Runner 0.8.," "Rollin DissgEyes," "Build Your Enemies," "Digital Slaps," and "Immaculate" for the scoring of the film.[22]

Acting[edit]

Shavo's involvement in the arts began at an early age, as he first appeared in the 1993 "Big Gun" video by AC/DC, standing alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the crowd sporting a backwards baseball cap and a white t-shirt, while Schwarzenegger catches a stick of dynamite. He also made a cameo as Hansel's Posse member in the film Zoolander.

In 2006, Odadjian starred in the critically acclaimed film "Screamers", a documentary by internationally known director Carla Garapedian. The film follows Shavo and the rest of the rock band System of a Down as they tour Europe and the US, pointing out the horrors of modern genocide that began in Armenia in 1915 up through Darfur today.[23]

Other work[edit]

Painting and artwork[edit]

One of Odadjian's 26 abstract paintings that hung as a backdrop for Ozzfest 2006.

Odadjian is an avid and passionate painter. His artwork has been featured in many System music videos and live shows -including an abstract piece highlighted in System of a Down's "Hypnotize" video.[24] Odadjian's painting style is abstract with loud, bright colors that bleed into each other. During Ozzfest of 2006, Odadjian created a 27-piece, abstract mosaic of paintings that was utilized as the stage backdrop for System's headlining Ozzfest performance. (Stage design in System of a Down performances is also attributed to Odadjian). One critic wrote of the Ozzfest performance:

Each of Odadjian's paintings for the 2006 Ozzfest performance were hand-picked by Odadjian himself. Odadjian states that, in pairing each of his pieces/backdrops to songs, he aimed to coordinate each unique emotion of a specific song to the matching vibe of his paintings.[26][27]

Philanthropy and activism[edit]

Odadjian accepting GenNext's "Community Hero Award".

Odadjian is a human rights activist known to take on an avid role in protesting against human atrocities, including, but not limited to, the recognition and prevention of worldwide genocide.[28] He also actively participates in youth mentoring, and frequents charitable events that work to further research for cancer-stricken children.[29] On February 27, 2009, Shavo Odadjian was presented with AGBU's GenNEXT "Community Hero Award," an award paying tribute to his outstanding work as a role model for young Armenian-Americans. Odadjian was nominated for the award by young kids in the community. During his acceptance speech, Shavo highlighted the importance of being active in your local community:[30]

Shavo later discussed the personal value of his nomination by the kids of the community for the award:

Discography[edit]

Other appearances
Year Artist Song Release
Albums and soundtracks
2003 Serart "Narina" Serart
2007 Wu-Tang Clan "Unpredictable" 8 Diagrams[33]
"Starter"
2009 Sunz of Man & Shavo Odadjian "Dead Birds" The RZA Presents: Afro Samurai Resurrection OST
Brooklyn Zu "If I had a Gun" Chamber#9, Verse 32 [34]
Raekwon "Gihad" Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II
"Penitentiary"

Musical equipment[edit]

Basses
  • Gibson Thunderbird - Shavo Odadjian's Signature Bass Line (Coming Soon)
  • Gibson Thunderbird IV – Odadjian's main bass.
  • Music Man StingRay
  • Ibanez BTB-405
  • Dean Cadillac Bass

[35][36]

Effects
Amplifiers
  • Ashdown ABM900 Evo II heads – x4
  • Ashdown 8x10" Cabinets – x4
Other

Awards[edit]

  • In 2002, System of a Down was nominated for a Grammy Award in Best Metal Performance for their song Chop Suey! but lost to Schism by Tool
  • In 2003, System of a Down was nominated for a Grammy Award in Best Hard Rock Performance for Aerials but lost to All My Life by Foo Fighters
  • In 2005, System of a Down won for Best Alternative Act in the Europe Music Awards
  • In 2006, System of a Down won their first Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for B.Y.O.B.
  • In 2006, System of a Down won the "MTV Good Woodie Award" for their song Question!
  • In 2006, System of a Down's song Toxicity was #14 on the VH1 Top 40 Metal Songs list
  • In 2007, System of a Down was nominated for a Grammy Award in Best Hard Rock Performance for their song Lonely Day but lost to Woman by Wolfmother

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Last FM: System of a Down Biography". Music-city.org. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  2. ^ "Interview with System of a Down". "NYRock. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  3. ^ "Interview: System of A Down Continues to Rage with Hypnotize". Campuscircle.com. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  4. ^ "Singing with a Purpose". Electrictext.com. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  5. ^ "Shavo's Yerevan Magazine Interview Dec. 09"[dead link]
  6. ^ "Interview: System of a Down". Campuscircle.com. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  7. ^ Benson, John. "System of a Down: Not a Political Band". Plan9music.com. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  8. ^ "Hallow9een Show Hosted by Shavo"[dead link]
  9. ^ "3/4 of System of a Down Reunite for Chi Benefit Show"[dead link]
  10. ^ "Blabbermouth: System of a Down Bassist to Perform at WeThePeople Festival". Roadrunnerrecords.com. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  11. ^ "Achozen: a name to remember"[dead link]
  12. ^ "Babylon A.D. Movie Details/Cast". Movies.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  13. ^ "System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian: The Gibson Interview". Gibson.com. 2008-06-24. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  14. ^ a b "Shavo Odadjian Releases a New Achozen Song for Free on Friday the 13th". Wuforever.com. 2009-11-10. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  15. ^ "Shavo Odadjian: The System of a Down bassist on making music, film, and opening up the Internet"[dead link]
  16. ^ ["Shavo On Achozen Progress and UrSession Details"]
  17. ^ a b "Shavo's in the Studio Recording with Chameleon Conductor"[dead link]
  18. ^ "System of a Down Find Answer to 'Question!' In a Dream". "VH1. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  19. ^ Moss, Corey (2005-08-02). "System Of A Down Find Answer To 'Question!' In A Dream". Mtv.com. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  20. ^ "Bad Brains Video News And Tour", Paul Tao, AbsolutePunk.net, May 15, 2007
  21. ^ "The RZA, Hans Zimmer Teamed Up to Score Vin Diesel’s Babylon A.D.". Slashfilm.com. 2008-06-26. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  22. ^ Shavo Odadjian at the Internet Movie Database
  23. ^ Screamers at the Internet Movie Database
  24. ^ Posted 10/24/05. "System of a Down's 'Hypnotize'". "MTV. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  25. ^ By PAUL SAITOWITZThe Press-Enterprise (2006-07-10). "System of a Down Rises Above the Dross". Pe.com. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  26. ^ "Shavo Odadjian Of System Of A Down: 'You Always Have To Top Yourself'". Ultimate-guitar.com. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  27. ^ "Bassist Odadjian puts band in tuxedos for reincarnation-themed clip". "VH1. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  28. ^ Moss, Corey (2004-04-26). "System of a Down Mark Genocide by Playing, Not Preaching". "MTV. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  29. ^ "Shavo and Two Real Heroes"[dead link]
  30. ^ "Shavo receives 'Community Hero' award from AGBU"[dead link]
  31. ^ 1/0 Technology Corp. - Paul R. Williams, John BUDDAY Running. "Generation Next Mentorship Program Honors Odadjian". Agbu.org. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  32. ^ "Shavo and 2 Real Heroes"[dead link]
  33. ^ "Shavo Discography at Discogs". Discogs.com. 1974-04-22. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  34. ^ "Brooklyn Zu ft. Shavo 'If I Had a Gun'". Nahright.com. 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  35. ^ "Gibson Lifestyle - System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian: The Gibson Interview". Seosemtools.com. 2008-06-24. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 
  36. ^ [1][dead link]
  37. ^ "Artists". Ernie Ball. Retrieved 2011-07-18. 

External links[edit]