Mazi - Audio Soul Project
"One of the leading names in contemporary house." - DJ Mag
At the core of everything Mazi Namvar does is a restless drive to innovate. Whether he's behind the decks, in the studio, or working on his own Gourmet Recordings label, Mazi's goal is the same: explore new musical territory and continue to challenge boundaries and perceptions. It's a risky proposition in a dance music culture saturated with the similar, but simply put, if Mazi's done it before, he's not going to do it again.
This relentlessly forward-thinking approach has focused Mazi throughout his ten-plus years of making dance music. He's released over 140 productions and tracks, and DJed in every corner of the world, but his sound is constantly evolving, a creative process that shows no signs of slowing down. While he spent part of 2004 assessing where he was musically, he's begun 2005 with a renewed fever for his music, and with a slate of ambitious projects on the horizon.
DJing has always been Mazi's first passion, and his recent sets have been particularly inspired. Listen to Mazi behind the decks these days and you'll hear a survey of dance music's extreme cutting-edge labels and tracks. His record bag is packed with a furious collision of 303 acid lines; searing synthesizers; thick, punchy drum kits; new wave-inspired vocals; and tracky, jacked-up house and techno. His sound touches on the electronic house style that has put labels like Brique Rouge, Crosstown Rebels, Poker Flat, Get Physical, Freak n' Chic and Mazi's own Gourmet at the forefront of the underground labels that have been burning up the industry. At the 2005 Winter Music Conference, Mazi showcased his diversity as DJ, dropping acid onslaughts, or going deep and moody for the daytime affairs.
Mazi's music has always defied simplistic genre definitions. He's a master at reading a crowd, at knowing when to smooth things out or to pick up the tempo and hit hard. He's a fluid mixer who generates dance floor energy, steadily building layers and introducing new elements into his sets. He won't shy away from surprising the crowd, dropping in the occasional Pets Shop Boys or Rapture tune in his sets. His sets have earned the respect of his peers and gained him legions of fans across the club spectrum, holding down regular gigs in the last few years at London's Fabric, New York's Sullivan Room, LA's ROAM parties, Istanbul, Paris, Peru, Mexico and more. In his hometown of Chicago, Mazi regularly headlines at Vision, Zentra and Smart Bar.
"Mazi is master of the mixing desk" - Jockey Slut/UK
While he's slowed down his production output in recent years, Mazi says that's enabled him to only release the music that really resonates with him. His new material for 2005, starting off with a slew of remixes for labels including S-Sens, NRK, Dessous, Wrong, Frik n Frak and Disruptor, sound dramatically different from his tracks from just a few years ago. Shifting away from a strict house music groove, Mazi's engaging more new sounds and energies, going heavy on the electronic sounds, acid rhythms and stark 4/4 pulse that have characterized his recent sets.
His next major project will be the second Audio Soul Project album, the follow up to 2001's critically acclaimed "Community", a collection of deep dance floor material that featured Mazi working alongside poets, vocalists, musicians and other producers. For the next incarnation of Audio Soul Project, Mazi plans to form a core group and write music together as a unit, rather than the more open-ended approach from the previous album. From there, a live act will be developed to complement the studio work.
Gourmet Recordings, Mazi's label run in conjunction with his wife and partner Lori Riegler-Namvar, will be the primary outlet for his own original productions in the near future. Expanding and establishing an identity for the label is a priority for Mazi, as the five-year-old imprint continues to mature into a boutique label for discerning DJs and music fans alike. With just over 25 releases in its discography, the label has released a wide spectrum of sounds from established and up-and-coming artists alike. New projects include "This is Fresh Meat", a sampler series designed to introduce new names, sounds, and concepts to the marketplace, kicking off with a quality Dan Berkson/Brian Ffar release. Recent singles from Joshua Collins, Flicker and David Duriez have all caused a stir among top DJs.
Like most artists, Mazi's ultimate goal is control, to be able to release his own music when and how he wants it, making decisions at every step of the process. He's worked hard to get to that position, but don't expect him to slow down his creative drive any time soon. Stagnation and repetition will never be part of Mazi's repertoire.