Last March was my first WMC experience and definitely not my last. One of the events I attended during our jam packed week was a Varsity All Stars party at the Clinton Hotel. This is where I met Naveen G. I had a great time talking to Naveen and afterwards he gave me his WMC promo. After giving it just one listen I discovered that Naveen has a style that is all his own. I knew immediately that Naveen would be a perfect In Demand choice.
This has been a big year for Naveen. He joined the Varsity All Stars team and became a member of Feedback Bookings and he also continues to do his weekly radio show Darker Shades on Proton Radio. To top it off he is putting in long hours at the Harlem Hospital in NY where he is doing his residency in radiology. A DJ, a producer, and a MD…he is quite an impressive guy all round!
Naveen has no boundaries. He likes to incorporate all genres of electronic music into his mixes. In his four-hour In Demand mix Naveen takes you on a smoothly mixed journey from a more housey beat (which is fitting for an early evening warm up), into a much darker, trippy mish mash of house infused with electro, minimal, tech-house and just pure dirty beats (of course suited for a dark dingy dance floor around 6am where you can find Naveen on any given Saturday).
The journey for me felt like I was being lead down a dimly lit corridor until I ended up in total darkness…scary, no, exciting, yes! No matter what your preferred style is, this mix has a little bit of everything for everyone. I thoroughly enjoyed my travels down the Naveen G mind tunnel; have a listen and let us know if you did as well!
Inside the IM with Naveen G & littlemissbluedress
Not only does this IM expose you to a talented DJ/producer, but it also displays the diversity in sound amongst his new crew at Feedback Bookings, which of course we are big fans of. Naveen has a lot to say about the music and the scene, plus some pretty funny opinions in general. He definitely peaked my curiosity so I hope this interview will do the same for you!
Lisa: Hey Naveen! How are you?
Naveen: Tired….working overnights still sucks. Although I guess it’s not much different from staying out clubbing all night.
Lisa: Haha ya but not as much fun… where are you working?
Naveen: I’ve got two years left of radiology residency at Harlem Hospital.
Lisa: Thats amazing… So you’ll be a radiologist
Naveen: Two years to go and I’ll finally be official.
Lisa: Wow, so what do you do for your undergrad?
Naveen: Undergrad I was an anthropology and neuroscience major, monkeys and brains, very exciting stuff
Lisa: Haha ya I find it really interesting actually, I majored in biology. So how do you balance med school and DJ/producing?
Naveen: It’s damn tough. As soon as you feel like you’re getting somewhere in one area, you feel like you’re dropping behind in the other, so I go through these phases of focusing on one or the other for months at a time, but each makes a great way to get away from the other. When I get stuck on a track I just focus on studying and work for a while and come back to it. When I get beaten down at work, I try to get a weekend off to go play somewhere
Lisa: Sounds like you got it figured out. It’s good to have a passion, or in your case two.
Naveen: It’s a tough sacrifice though. You always are thinking to yourself “where could I be if I had just focused on one or the other?”
Lisa: True, but I guess being a doctor is more lucrative in the long run at least.
Naveen: Oh no contest there. With time, I’ll have more flexibility in my schedule as an MD so I can actually be able to plan out music and DJing better than I can now. And not having to worry about money in a couple of years will let me experiment all I want in producing.
The Sweet Science of Naveen’s EDM
Lisa: So in talking about science, do you think there is a science to creating the music that you do?
Naveen: I generally subscribe to the chaos theory when I’m making tracks as it involves lots of random mashing of keys and sounds and samples…and often physical violence aimed at my sequencer.
Naveen: Seriously though, I always try to do something different from the last track I made, be it a completely different genre or song structure, etc….nowadays, getting down the actual parts of the track is only half the job. The mastering, EQing and post production really makes a track sound great on a dance floor. Really simple music that’s well produced can really rock a floor whereas a great complex song that sounds muddy just won’t cut it. Sad but true.
Lisa: I think you are pretty amazing at your mixing, these sets you made for us are fantastic!
Naveen: Why thank you! That’s really the best compliment I could ever ask for…a lot of it is a byproduct of going out in NYC and being spoiled with 4-8 hours sets from my favorite DJs in the old Twilo days. The chance to hear a single DJ progress all the way through the night starting deep and slow and trippy and ending up with banging techno at 9am really does it for me. It’s the range and versatility of people like Danny Howells, Lee Burridge, Sasha and Digweed that really inspired me.
Lisa: I couldn’t agree with you more
Naveen: Which is why the recent trend of these two hour quick sets at festivals and such really irks me. These people are really at their best when they have the time to stretch their legs and get to all the great music that they never get to play outside of peak time. I think I’ll always be long winded when it comes to my mixes simply because of the fact that there’s so much good music that’s both old and new that I can never find time to play it all.
Lisa: So I feel like I got a real good sample of what you do from these sets… how would you describe your sound overall?
Naveen: My sound….hmm… I guess I always lean towards tracks that don’t seem obvious. I love the deep stuff that really puts the room in a single vibe that you go anywhere from. There’s all this great music now that combines really techy bass driven stuff with the classic chords and melodies of the “back in the day” progressive sound. I always just try to combine everything into a cohesive trip through some good deep techy beats. I always try to split up my sound into a day sound and a night sound. When the sun is out at a day party, I generally wanna hear some feel good groovy beats but late night in a dingy club space, I’d rather get my head twisted with some dark stuff. I try to stay on top of both without spreading myself thin, it comes from growing up listening to the whole range from DnB to techno to deep Chicago house. I appreciate all of it and try to incorporate the best of each into my sound.
Lisa: I think you did that pretty well with the In Demand mixes. Part 1 is more housey and then Part 2 really progresses into a techy grindy prog mix
Naveen: Its funny though because nowadays that second mix is gonna be called all sorts of things, like minimal or techno but people will shy away from labeling any of it progressive because its gotten such a negative connotation.
Lisa: Ya I know, why is that?
Naveen: It’s a marketing thing….labeling a track progressive house on Beatport will probably make it sell less records than if you labeled the same track tech house or techno.
Lisa: Do you think the reason why minimal is so trendy right now is because it’s the total opposite of prog?
Naveen: My favorite quote comes from Lee Burridge who said something to the effect that he doesn’t play progressive records, he plays records in a progressive way. I think that’s totally spot on. A lot of minimal nowadays sounds like a repackaged version of the dark prog from 2000 and 2001, just stripped down a bit but now they’re climbing up there with 13 min tracks and whatnot. A lot of minimal is the opposite of prog but some of the same sensibilities are making their way into minimal with the progression of the song structures. Take Cocoon (Sven Vaths label) for example, all of it is labeled as techno or minimal but you can just imagine that stuff being called progressive years ago. It’s all about packaging and branding.
Lisa: Interesting, I never thought of it like that
Naveen: And now you see prog producers stripping down their tracks and minimal producers adding more to theirs. It’s all a large grey area as to the difference between minimal, techno, techprog and neotrance whatever you want to call it. It’s like the tribal drums of dark prog have been replaced with glitches and white noise and renamed minimal. I’m not saying all of it is like that but a good load of it doesn’t strike me as being that different. There is a definite aesthetic to hearing a relentless, looping minimal groove on a dance floor, kinda like how Radioslave really works it. I think Sven is a legend when it comes to blurring boundaries. He has no fear in playing old trance or new techno and stuff in between.
Lisa: I have met some of the smartest people through this music… Why do you think intelligent minds are drawn to it? Is there any correlation?
Naveen: Because people can be huge geeks in the scene and still feel like they’re part of something exclusive. It’s kind of the same as the hipster mentality. Honestly, though, I think you have to let go of a lot of conventions of typical music to really get into the scene. The emphasis is on really abstract parts of the music that are decentralized from the notion of the band or the particular song and rather a larger experience of the night out and the context. Wow, what I wrote just sounds really pretentious. That shows you how much people can geek out over this stuff.
Lisa: There is definitely a feeling that you get from this music that you can’t get anywhere else.
Naveen: I love waxing philosophical about things like bitcrush depth on the hihats and multiband compression on the synth stabs. It makes girl get hot too.
Lisa: Haha I’m not sure I understood that, you are definitely a music geek LOL. What are most DJs playing in NY at the moment?
Naveen: NY is very minimal oriented in the underground side of things.
Lisa: What is the draw to minimal?
Naveen: There’s still a load of electrohouse around as well but minimal has really taken off here. Minimal makes great schmoozing music because you have an entire conversation with someone and not miss anything in the track.
Naveen: Just kidding. It comes back to the repetitive heady groove that a good minimal set can build. No builds, no drops just an unrelenting beat that really cuts through the system. Really works wonders for getting a crowd into a groove and it doesn’t really inspire the all out dancing more of just lots of people bobbing maybe that makes it easier for people to like it. I think it will be one of those genres where most people still will never know the names of 90% of the tracks.
Lisa: Ya for sure but who really knows any names of tracks?
Naveen: Trooo, but you can’t really go to your friend and ask him if he knows that one minimal track that goes like “….boom…tssst..” makes it harder for the casual clubber to identify with it if there are no big track names for them to identify with with prog people used to be able to hum you a melody or something.
Lisa: My boyfriend was making fun of me that I cant sing any songs because I don’t know any with words
Naveen: LOL. The only ones with words go something like “its so dark…dark in here….I can’t see my drugs….” its always the same crap.
Lisa: Lol, so when did you start your radio show with Proton?
Naveen: Hmm, that was something like September of 2001 I think. It’s been some long great years with them.
Lisa: What is your focus of your radio show?
Naveen: I always try to play something different every month and get some exposure to music that you typically don’t hear very much. Sometimes ambient, sometimes really deep afterhours stuff. I just try to keep the show fresh and to showcase lots of different styles of music. My partner Pat Foosheen pulls out the old tech house and intelligent drum and bass sometimes to round things out. I like keeping the show varied. It’s nice not having to have one format
Lisa: Sounds good when is it on?
Naveen: First Thursday of every month at 3pm EST.
Lisa: Cool, well there’s a little plug for you 😉 Are there any producers at the moment that you are drawn to?
Naveen: So many great new producers…Steve Mill, Scope, Guy Gerber, Shlomi Aber, Guy J, Gel Abril, Dusty Kid, Pig and Dan, Moonbeam, Ryan Davis and Lannie May, Oliver Lieb in all his guises. Just a few off the top of my head who are really doing it for me. Oh yeah, and the rebirth of Plastic City with Timewriter and Terry Lee Brown Jr.
Lisa: Nice… so this year we met in Miami… Any highlights for you from this year or ones past?
Naveen: I’ve been going for 7 years now so there’s been a ton. This past year’s Tikki boat party with Desyn and Demi was great. Jimmy Van M at Space the prior year. The SAW recordings parties at Nerv were always class and the first Yoshitoshi party at the redesigned Space.
Lisa: So this year in Miami you where with the Varsity Allstars, what does it mean to be a part of this group?
Naveen: It’s a collective of people all over the US from NY to Chicago to SF/LA that came together to throw some great parties and play some good music. The emphasis is on really making the parties memorable benders out of your weekends. We try to bring a theme and a different type of venue along with great music and try get more people willing to rock it at daytime parties.
Lisa: Nice I’m all for that, I love day parties nothing better then the sun shining down on you, drinking a margarita and hearing sweet beats
Naveen: Exactly…and it gives you something to do right after those nights where you just don’t want to go to sleep.
Lisa: When did varsity all stars begin?
Naveen: I think the idea was born sometime around Lovefest last year and put into motion with several parties at WMC this past year.
Lisa: So this year you also joined the Feedback crew, what did that mean to you?
Naveen: Getting to work with Ricky Ryan as part of Feedback is just amazing. I’ve known him a couple of years now and I have a real appreciation for what he is trying to do by setting up an agency that really takes care of the DJ first. The Feedback DJs are just all great guys as I’ve met them and there is quite a range with what their DJs play so I think I fit in well. It’s nice being able to share contacts and be part of a collective of like minded people.
Lisa: Have you always lived in NY?
Naveen: I grew up here, and then spent eight of my formative years in Chicago before moving back here three years ago.
Lisa: Ah cool, I have only been to NY once, but didn’t get to party… Where are the best clubs these days?
Naveen: NY is having a bit of restructuring as the super clubs have lost most of their steam and are closing. Cielo continues to provide really solid nights. Then there are newer places like Love, Studio B, Rebel and Bar 13 as well as the staple Sullivan Room that are consistent small rooms to hear great music. But summer boat parties have been flourishing here as well as the outdoor PS1 and Water Taxi Beach.
Lisa: Sounds like fun, clubs are always reshaping as does the crowd, how has the scene evolved since you got involved?
Naveen: Things have gone from big clubs to small rooms and back and forth several times. While NYC used to host several amazing residencies, there has been so much turn over in club longevity that I haven’t seen many recently. The nights have just gotten more popular so there are fewer of the same faces you used to see everywhere and more new blood.
Lisa: What city would you say is your favourite to party in?
Naveen: I love Buenos Aires, there’s just so much going on and people love to stay out late and they just love and appreciate music no matter what type. Great receptive crowds to play to.
Lisa: So onto some un-music related questions…who do you think should be the next president?
Naveen: Oh good. Anyone but that monkey right now….I’d be happy with just about any Democrat so this war-mongering can end. I didn’t realize i needed an opinion about non-music related stuff. This is tough.
Lisa: Haha I just like to get to know more about the man behind the music. Why do you think Canadians know more about Americans then vice versa?
Naveen: I think we probably forget that there’s another country above us in this hemisphere and I’m sure the South Park movie didn’t help much either. Most Americans I think have never left the US unless they make it to Mexico occasionally; severe lack of appreciation for world cultures.
Lisa: I heard a funny quote that said everyone else lives in the world but Americans live in America…
Lisa: What do you think is good/bad about being American?
Naveen: Bad – we have our collective head stuck up our own ass. Good – we usually keep our head stuck up our own ass. Until we invade other countries that is.
Lisa: Hahah! Describe your dream home…
Naveen: Well I’d love a nice open plan loft space in the city to fit a huge studio, large DJ booth and lots of space to lounge around in. And a super nice kitchen. And a balcony on a city apartment is awesome to have.
Lisa: Sounds great
Naveen: Then again a place with some real outdoor space outside of the city would be nice to get away to. Of course, it would still have a soundproofed studio/DJ booth/club space in the basement or something.
Lisa: What is your background?
Lisa: Have you been to India?
Naveen: Every 3-4 years or so.
Lisa: Ah thats good, where in India?
Naveen: Usually Bombay and Hyderabad in the south. If there was more of a club scene there, I’d probably go back more often. They’re still all listening to Bollywood choons though.
Lisa: So you have a dog..girl or boy? name?
Naveen: I have a massive chocolate lab named Julius or known to some as The Ogre. He weighs more than a runway model.
Lisa: Haha, how old?
Naveen: 2.5 years old. He used to eat my records. Thankfully he doesn’t like CDs as much so making the switch was a no-brainer
Lisa: Lol, are you an all around animal lover or just dogs?
Naveen: No I love animals. They make up the largest segment of my fan base.