Q+A: 5 Minutes with NAVA

Tehran-born and Italy-based musician Nava Golchini a.k.a NAVA has exceeded expectations with her Persian-infused avant-pop single ‘Gaz’. Although reflecting on a relationship that drains one’s self-esteem, the singer remains poised. She maintains a fierce and collected attitude with edgy rolling drums and jagged electronics reminiscent of the energy of Arca and alternative musician . A varied array of influences and sound infusions come together to reveal this refreshingly badass track via Oyez!. We asked this rising musician a few questions about her background in music, and she shares insight about her creative workflow in the process.

Stream / Download: ‘Gaz’

Set the tone for us. Why the arts?

Well, I’d say coming from a background where free expression was almost little to nothing, the arts were the only form of expression that allowed me to speak freely, without being put into any rigid scheme. This is a form of liberation in my opinion.

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?

Absolutely the idea! An idea can also be a sound or a sample for me! I have to be inspired, even by the smallest of things! But it’s the initial spark that thrives and intrigues me to continue a production.

Does your material feature any collaborations?

Well, I think all my material is a result of at least three collaborations. They include me, the producers I work with and the visual team that turns the sound into imagery. But I’m looking forward to working with other artists in the writing process. That would be completely new to me, it might start a whole new chapter.

What’s on your current playlist?

A lot of Sega bodega, and Rosalia. I’m absolutely obsessed with them!

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.

I’m so happy that concerts are slowly starting up again. I 100% feed off of the energy my audience reflects and I love surprising them. I have created a show with musical intervals and visuals, where there are no breaks in between the tracks. This way I can show them what NAVA’s world looks like and we live in a 45 minute experience together.

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?

At the moment I love mixing absurd opposites. For example, I found a video of this religious Persian ceremony and used that sound to create some chops and samples for a dreamy techno experimental track.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

Well, I must confess the recording studio is not my favourite place. I feel like I’m being put on the spot and I need to deliver in a certain margin of time. So, I decided to make a mini studio at home where I can be as raw and vulnerable as I want, to really get out the essence of the lyrics and re-create them in the studio. On the other hand, sometimes I have a lot of fun in the studio because the producers and I bounce ideas off each other and it turns into a session which I love!

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?

Yes! Every time I’m on stage I have that feeling! The rush and the adrenaline is one of a kind for me.

What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?

Lately, I’ve brought some Persian percussion back with me to Italy. I love playing them during the intervals and having a mini jam session with my fellow musicians.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

The other day Iako opened up a show for me and I was left absolutely bewitched by his angelic voice! He has a bit of a James Blake vibe that I adore! Also Ethan, he is an Italian singer as well and has this warm and elastic voice that creates magic on a darker track.

What gets your creative juices flowing?

I think I’m triggered a lot by what goes on in my life. But also listening to podcasts about modern poetry really gets my creative juices flowing.

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.

Well, when I’m creating a demo it’s all software, I use Ableton at the moment. But during concerts we’re a trio: voice, synth, guitar, electric drum and acoustic drums. And of course, visuals always accompany my live sets.

Any side projects you’re working on?

Yes! I’m really pursuing my Djing passion! I love remixing tracks and playing samples on top of them and also mixing Persian traditional music with experimental northern European sounds! 

I’m just experimenting at the moment. I also love it, because it leads me to discover so much new music!

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?

I think when I first stepped into the industry, I had an image of what I wanted my music to sound like. As time went by though, I have acknowledged my mixed background more and more, letting it inspire me and seeing where it takes me. I’m happy to be open to receiving everything without putting it in a genre or scheme and just experimenting freely.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?

Hopefully a lot of concerts and an EP which really sets the tone musically and visually.

Famous last words? 

Keep an eye out for those Persian percussions!

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 Image credit: Matteo Strocchia and Marco Servina