Hailing from Tehran, Iran, Navid Mehr brings us a sound that is both lush, and fresh. After immigrating to Canada in 1997, Navid went to his first rave when he was 17. He has been hooked since. After pooling money with a friend, and building a home studio in his mom’s basement, Navid started releasing music in 2007 under the duo moniker Beat Syndrome. It wasn’t until 2013 that Navid decided it was time to fly solo, and begin making records under his real name. Coming from a time and place with much political unrest and oppression, Navid Mehr’s intelligent blend of deep and progressive dance music is sure to make a serious impact in the coming years.
Hi Navid, its great to meet you. Tell us your musical influences while growing up. Have they changed a lot to where they now?
Hello Decoded Magazine! It is my pleasure to talk to you guys. My biggest musical influence was my dad. He was part of the whole flower generation that happened in 60s and early 70s. Naturally I started listening to his vinyl record collection, which included bands like Pink Floyd, The Who, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton. The list goes on and on. During my middle school, a friend handed me a copy of Master of Puppets by Metallica, and I became a metal head through out the high school years. Also, it was around the same time when the grunge movement was happening, and bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains were considered popular music, so obviously I can say that I was influenced by those bands as well. To be honest I don’t have that much time to research music as I did before so I find myself going back to the same catalogue of bands that I used to listen when I was teenager.
We noticed that your first release on Beatport was in late 2013. This surprised us as you have a very mature sound. How long have you been making music and what inspired you to start producing?
I started producing music around 2007, and I have been doing it since. What inspired me to produce electronic music came around early 2000 when a lot of music heads would call it “the golden years of electronic music.” Guys like Sasha, Hernan Cattaneo, Nick Warren and John Digweed were at top of their craft. When I heard Involver One from Sasha, I decided to dig deeper into music production.
Which DAW do you use and what is your favourite/go-to VST and/or Hardware, and why?
Well, I started with Cubase and then when Ableton came out I switched to Ableton and haven’t really looked back. The workflow is cut by half in Ableton and it is very user friendly. My go to VST is anything from Spectrasonics. The quality of the sound is really good. I also use Massive from Native Instruments, Diva, Synthmaster, and Albino from Rob Papen. As far as hardware I am huge fan of Dave Smiths line from MoPho all the way to Prophet.
When making your music, is there a message you are trying to convey?
Well the most important aspect of any dance record is to make people dance, but when you have a medium like music or anything that needs imagination to create, you can take it to another level and use it to convey a message, what ever that message may be. A lot of people may disagree with me and think that music should be just music, especially that dance music should be about dancing and that’s it. I think that is cool and I am all for it, but I am a huge fan of conceptual art and concept albums. When it comes to my own work each EP is different depending on what my mood is and what point I am trying get across. There really isn’t much to it if you just pay attention to the name of the songs and the samples used to make the track and the atmosphere. With that you can tell what the message behind each EP is.
Switching gears to your latest release, tell us the story behind your Gathas EP?
I made about six tracks, picked the best two and sent it to Hernan Cattaneo. This was about 10 months ago, and he picked it up for Sudbeat. It was really a dream come true for me as a producer as Hernan has been a huge influence in my music. To be able to sign a record on his label is a huge honour, so I wanted to do something special. That is when I approached Amber Long, sent her both tracks, and asked her if she would be interested in working with me to do vocals for either of the tracks. She picked Gathas. I explained what the idea behind Gathas was for me, and asked her to do what she thinks would fit for the track. We started working on the vocal version of Gathas and after going back and forth for a couple of times we had the vocal version ready. The cool thing about working with Amber was right from the beginning we had a mutual respect and trust on each others work, so instead of Amber just sending me stems we started to collaborate together. The interesting part was the fact that we had no idea if the vocal version will make it to the release or not. We got the conformation from Sudbeat management a week before the release, and you can imagine the joy we felt to have the confirmation. The main story behind the Gathas release for me was that I made two great friends. Obviously Amber and I are now really good friends and through Sudbeat I met Stas because of his fantastic remix of Elyon. Now I consider him a good friend of mine. Overall I can say that the release on Sudbeat was truly an amazing experience!
You have a really cool video that was made for the release; can you tell us a little more about it?
My friend Sina use to play drums for a band in New York called Yellow Dogs. He was releasing his solo LP and he had this fantastic video for one of the singles of his album. When I saw the video right away I knew I had to get in contact with the team behind it. The guys from 20×20 are super talented and when I told them the idea behind the song we clicked right away. They started working on the video with the help of their friend Mohamadreza Tazari. Thanks to him, the video came to reality.
When making a mix, how do you prepare for it? Is there something in particular that inspired your guest mix for us?
Usually when making a mix I have a set list in my mind. Based on those tracks I first key them, and then try to find a flow and figure out where each track would fit. What inspired me to make this guest mix is good melodic music with a badass groove!
What has been the biggest challenge in your music career so far?
It is really easy to fall in to the trap of comfort. In my opinion when that happens your music will suffer, so the biggest challenge for me is always to try to reinvent my sound and try to get out of the “comfort zone.”
Do you have any advice you can offer for up and coming producers?
Music industry in general is very tough, so you need a thick skin to survive. Nothing will come easy so you have to put in the hours to get good at what you do. Stick to your guns and believe in yourself, but be humble!
What is coming up next for Navid Mehr?
I did a remix for my mate Tash, which will be out on Just Movement. I also have an EP coming out on particles, and doing a Remix for Proton. Thanks for having me guys. Much Love
01// HVOD – Oxcid
02// Navid Mehr Feat. Amber long – Gathas
03// Sahar Z & Guy Mantzur – Time to Treasure
04// Navar – Moments in life (16 Bit Lolitas Remix)
05// Derek Howell – Red Dwarf (Cid Inc Remix)
06// Royksopp – Sordid Affair (Maceo Plex Remix)
07// GusGus – Airwaves (Marten Sundberg Remix)
08// Stimming – Der Schmelz (David August Remix)
09// Mike Griego Feat. Amber Long – Sofia (Guy Mantzur Remix)
10// Navid Mehr – Elyon (Stas Drive Remix)