Miami's Niko Javan Can't Stop Hustlin': "I Been Had Passion"
"I enjoy a little of everything."
Usually that kind of statement can be interpreted to mean, "I'm self-indulgent and lazy." But for Niko Javan, that isn't true. He's not only a producer, DJ, video director, and musician. His resume boasts impressive accomplishments all across the creative spectrum. So you just have to call him what he is -- an artist.
"It's a blessing and a curse, but I'm all over the place."
For the last few years, Niko's been grinding with manic rhymer L.Rey as O'Grime. And six months ago, Miami's jack-of-all-trades dropped Erbody Yoppin, a ten-song EP on Diplo's Mad Decent label, featuring heavy trap influences and tons of features from his rappin' homies.
He has also taught himself how to make music videos. And in about a year's time, he's finished a few of his own, and he's deep into production on a new clip for Miami's Sluggers, whose Phantom Fade EP was just released on Skrillex's OWSLA imprint.
In September, Niko played the inaugural TomorrowWorld festival's trap stage, an experience that he calls "the coolest thing I've ever done." And now he's headlining the Base at Space trap party on Saturday, December 21. All this success, he says, is just a product of appetite and hustle.
"I been had passion," Javan insists. And his creativity was encouraged at a young age when he attended magnet programs at Norland Middle School and Design Architecture Senior High. Back then, his passion was painting, and the experience was invaluable.
"That's where I got my habit of being able to sit down and work on one piece for dozens and dozens of hours," he recalls.
These days, all grown, Javan spends most of his time indoors, hustling away the hours on the computer, getting lost in busy and colorful worlds of his own creation.
"It's physically the exact same thing," he says, comparing music to video work. "Most of the projects require me to be sitting in the same position, just clicking and moving a mouse, just tapping on a magical metal box. That's how I see it, really. Inside my head, it's a little different, but it's the same kind rhythm."
And ultimately, even if he is a bit "all over the place," Javan is a man of ambition. He seeks out challenges and muscles through the tough work.
"I did my first video last year, but it took me like half the year to make it," he remembers, laughing. "I didn't know techniques that would save me a lot of time. If I wanted a car to be moving, I'd drag it the tiniest bit of an inch, then take a picture, then drag it, take a picture, like stop motion. I didn't understand a smarter way to use the program."
Of course, though, Niko put in his usual "dozens and dozens of hours" of practice. And now dude's got directorial skills. "I think I'm on my fifth one now," he says, "and it's definitely shitting on the last one."
Years ago, Javan discovered his musical talents in a much less labor-intensive way, after watching a commercial that featured people playing Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" on guitar.
"I was like, 'Hey, I can do what all those people are doing.'" So he grabbed a guitar and he did it. He was about nine years old. "I remember my mom standing there, like, 'Damn, boy, you got skills. You've never even picked it up before.'"
It's just one example of Niko's go-getter style.
"That moment happens, I think, many times over and over," he says. "It's always as exciting. Instead of picking up a guitar, I picked up a drum machine for the first time and I played something. Or when I first opened up Garage Band like four years ago and I made dumb house music."
After he wraps this Sluggers video and he bangs out this Base at Space gig, Javan's looking forward to "tapping on a magical metal box" again.
"I'm probably going to put out a little EP in January," he reveals. "It's going to be a couple of house tracks or something with funk. And hopefully, I sit down in 2014 and focus on a whole album that has one atmosphere to it, to get that cohesiveness, but I can't see it ever being just a straight house album."
And don't expect it to be anything like Erbody Yoppin either.
"I started out making music by myself and I've been neglecting that recently, and I kind of miss it," he says. "In 2014, I want to come up with something without any features. Just 100-percent what I do on my own."
Niko Javan. As part of Base at Space. Saturday, December 21. Space, 34 NE 11th St., Miami. The party starts at 10 p.m., and tickets cost $20 to $30 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-375-0001 or visit clubspace.com.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.
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