Niko Javan be going through some changes.
"I'm letting out my inner James Blake, but I don't wanna act like I'm not a fucking clown," the Miami music producer and member of O'Grime says.
This "inner James Blake" is expressed beautifully on his new Trench EP, featuring vocals from The Loft and two distinctly different atmospheric tracks.
The multi-talented Javan also set the songs to a music video, which is essentially just a moving painting. But as he points out, "If you're high, I don't think it matters."
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Trench kicks off with "More." There's a ghostly intro followed by silence, and then a kickin' deep house beat that carries as much ghetto attitude as ethereal mystery. It's all about that mix of old Niko and new Javan.
The second cut, "Sleep," was actually recorded months earlier and it's got a headier bedroom vibe. The moving-painting vid, with visuals heavily reminiscent of American Beauty or Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus," is Javan's way of offering fans something beautiful to look at while listening to the rather turned-down music.
Though the release of the new EP is exciting, it's not the only thing that's been keeping Javan busy. He just played a guest mix on SiriusXM Radio's Sway in the Morning program, and he's been traveling the country playing gigs with Red Bull Music Academy and on his own.
Homie's always hustling.
All the work and travel has taken a toll on his personal life, though. And when he looks back at the music on Trench, he sees how it played an unexpected part.
"I wasn't really thinking about that when I was making the songs," Javan says. "But if I were looking at a painting in an art gallery, looking at my own work and trying to figure what it was about, this [frustration about my separation from my girlfriend and family] is what stands out.
"Maybe not getting to spend enough time with my girl or being impatient with my parents. I was irritated at that. But then I think that things just come in phases, and you should expect things to not always be to your full satisfaction. It's OK if things aren't perfect all the time."
That same dissatisfaction is mirrored in his professional and artistic endeavors.
"I don't want to give up on anything just because it's tough," he says. "I am struggling to be able to find something that's consistent, because I know that's what a record label would be interested in.
"But at the same time, it's like, 'Fuck you. I just want to do what I want to do.' That's why you can hear that the music is taking a different direction, and that's why even the two songs in the project, one of them is dancey and one of them is very bedroomy."
History has shown time and time again that moments of struggle produce resonant works of art, and Javan's refusal to put himself in a box seems to be the same thing that makes Sway give him props for his "eclectic ear" or random kids at the III Points Festival tell him that he changed their life.
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"He was like, 'Bro, I was tripping on acid, and you changed my life,'" Javan recalls, laughing. "I keep saying, 'Yop your own path,' and I'm probably always going to be on my own path, looking for which way to go."
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