Balance Selections 036: Naveen G
Naveen G’s productions range as far and wide as his DJ sets, and with a dynamic style and broad musical taste, he’s insured not to be confined to one particular genre: From minimal, to progressive and everything in between, Naveen is at home warming up a room or setting the dancefloor alight as the main course. Naveen G‘s career began in 1996 where he hosted his own radio show on WNUR 89.3FM Streetbeat Radio, and since then he has truly earned his place as one of America‘s longest standing DJs. Fast forward to today, and Naveen is involved with New York’s esteemed Cityfox crew alongside regular bookings at the city’s Output/Panther Room (where he regularly warms-up for their biggest headliners). He also hosts Darker Shades, a monthly radio show which he’s been running for over 15 years on Proton Radio.
Among a busy DJ career and working with Atish and Mark Slee as their A+R manager at record label Manjumassi, Naveen has stacked up an impressive list of credentials. His work has been supported by many of the world greats including Sasha, John Digweed and Hernan Cattaneo, and he has also supported a list of artists most DJs could only dream of, playing events featuring Danny Howells, Lee Burridge, Adriatque, Cassy, Dixon and many more.
Naveen has been in our sights for a while now, and in this podcast he’s managed to perfectly place a mammoth 27 tracks across 2 hours to present us with us with one of our deepest techno journeys yet. This is heady stuff. Switch of the lights and turn it up…
Words by Stefanos Mak
Balance Selections Q + A
Naveen G / Samsara
Labels affiliated with:
Chapter 24 / Inyan / Looq / Proton / Yoshitoshi
My last 3 releases:
What music did you listen to as a child?
Despite having a pretty stellar record collection from when they were in college, my parents mostly listened to Hindi music (most of which is Bollywood related) evenly split with devotional Indian music, much of which is still stuck in my head to this day.
I started out listening to most full catalogue CD boxsets of classic acts like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix simply because it was an easy way to get a hold of a lot of new music at once. Once I developed an interest in seeking out music on my own in the midst of New Wave, I was listening to mostly industrial and German Body music/EBM or whatever they call it, from watching lots of 120 Minutes on MTV, so I listened to NIN, Ministry, Front 242 and Front Line Assembly. A big part of this was also following much of Wax Trax/TVT and KMFDM at the time.
When was the first time that you realised that you liked electronic music?
Industrial and dance was often lumped together in the record stores so I ended up grabbing some occasional Harthouse CDs and these UK rave/hardcore compilations called Speed Limit 140 BPM. That stuff was mix of ravey juno style stuff from Altern-8 and Channel X, but also pre D’n'B stuff from Omni Trio and LTJ and the like. Around the same time, Moonshine started releasing DJ comps stateside and some of the Sonic Groove crew had mixtapes that you could buy on the street in Chinatown. Frankie Bones and Kimball Collins were definitely in the rotation but I’ll own up to owning a DJ Keoki CD as well. Woodstock 94 really sealed it though when I stumbled upon the third stage which had what is now an impossible lineup, with DJ Spooky, Orbital, The Orb, Aphex Twin and Deee-lite.
When was the first time you saw a DJ in a club?
Most of my earliest DJ experiences were at underground raves throughout NY, many of which were at the Roseland. The first proper club I ever went to was The Tunnel in NYC. I had no idea who was playing but in retrospect it was probably Danny Tenaglia. For several years after that it was mainly Tunnel and Twilo for rotating lineups, D’n'B showcases etc., until Twilo settled on their resident lineup which made nearly every weekend unmissable.
Which producers/artists/acts inspire you?
I really love seeing artists who can improvise all or part of their live sets, compressing or expanding as they see fit, as it really helps one get completely lost in their music, such as Voices From The Lake and Sebastian Mullaert. But in a broader sense, Floating Points last album and live shows also strike the same chord with me.
DJ-wise, I really appreciate those with range and who aren’t afraid to throw in something completely unexpected. Peter Van Hoesen and The Drifter come to mind as being some recent sets like this I’ve seen recently.
What was the last album that you downloaded/bought?
Johann Johannsson – Arrival OST. I think the new Blade Runner soundtrack is in good hands with him. I’m a big fan of a number of other Icelandic artists, also including Olafur Arnalds, Yagya and much of the Thule roster.
What is your current production and DJ setup like?
It’s a mix of software and hardware, centred around Cubase, but I’ve had a copy of Ableton sitting around forever and I need to just make the switch. On the hardware side, I have a love/hate relationship with the Prophet 12 and I keep thinking about trading it for a Prophet 6, but then it’ll spit out something impossibly lush and then it gets to stick around. Nowadays, the modular rig is getting out of hand as I’m constantly considering selling off other gear to add to it. Ultimately, it’s a source of instant inspiration and sound design for days, but really capturing everything that comes out of it and getting it into full tracks is the hard part at the moment. I find it really easy to get lost in the “academic” side of it and daydream about all the purely modular, generative music people do with it.
On the DJing side, there was a brief period where I switched from USB to Traktor mainly to get four decks and effects going, but ease of setup has led me back to USBs. I still buy records but rip it all to digital as I don’t expect turntables at every gig. I’m toying with the idea of adding a Toraiz SP-16 solely for the sync-able link aspect with CDJs, after seeing Kink do some impressive things with that setup.
What releases do you have on the horizon?
Given that the studio has changed significantly since I last released anything, the new stuff I’m working on reflects a change in sound so it may be a bit before i get it to the point where I can put it all together and get it out there as being representative of where my head is now. Some of it may seem like a large departure, so it may end up under a new name or something.
On the side, I’ve been working with Atish and Mark Slee doing A+R for the label Manjumasi, so it’s been a great experience helping the label grow and working with all the new talent we’ve found so far. All the scheming of lining up the right remixers for the right tracks has been immensely fun behind the scenes as well – so I’m looking forward to the next few releases we’ve got coming up this year.
Where can we hear you perform?
Keeping a full time day job limits the travelling. I play various parties for Listed Productions and Cityfox here in NYC and the USA and at Output/The Panther Room fairly often, opening for some of their bigger headliners, which I love doing. I also have a monthly show on Proton Radio which has been going for almost fifteen or sixteen years now.
Tell us more about the podcast you made for Balance?
This was done as a studio mix as I’ve always been drawn to the idea of “headphone” music in a club setting. I tried to accomplish that by having long passages and slow changes to really get into a particular headspace that straddles between pounding techno at times and super deep or melodic segments. Trance is such a maligned term when it comes to this music, but it’s a very effective descriptor, not for the individual tracks, but for the overall feel of the mix. To me, there’s an ideal with this style of isolating a listener on the dancefloor as opposed to having drops and builds that draw out a shared crowd response of hands in the air or whatever. There’s a powerful energy in making a dancefloor draw inwards and have individual isolated experiences with the music, almost one-on-one conversations between the DJ and multiple listeners. To that end, if one considers things in these terms, I’d be happy to be associated with playing “trance”. I’ve been thinking about things in these terms quite a bit since going to Labyrinth in Japan.
The top track in my DJ wallet currently is:
If I could recommend only one track for you to listen to it would be:
My favourite Balance compilation is:
Balance 005: James Holden
The last movie I watched that I really liked:
My favourite TV show:
Game of Thrones
If I could choose anyone to compile a Balance comp it would be:
Peter Van Hoesen
1. Konrad Black – Chelyabinsk Afterglow
2. Synthek & Audiolus – Unwise (Polar Inertia remix)
3. Octal Industries vs Ohm – Timelapse (dub)
4. Company – 003.2
5. Ruhig – Sciame
6. Desta Cullen – Hush2
7. Edit Select – 12
8. Berni – Been
9. Vertical Spectrum – Alpha Magnitude (Abstract Division remix)
10. Absence of Light – Judgement Day
11. Infektion – Hypno Theory
12. Paula Temple, Rrose, Aisha Devi – DR2-1
13. Varg – I Think I’d Lie For You
14. Monoloc – Michigan Lights
15. Moteka – Xytyru
16. Avi Musaifi – Qarva
17. CNCPT – 002.5
18. Boston 168 – Revelation
19. Perc – Foto Real
20. Shlomo – Obsession
21. 747 – Ammon
22. Geinst – Unstable Thought
23. Janzon – Poetry in Motion
24. Zadig – Journey into the Wastelands
25. nthng – It Never Ends
26. The 7th Plain – The Super 8
27. BT – Artifacture: VI. Niente di Tutto Qualcosa