Former Joey Bada$$ producer Navie D releases new solo-effort, POST EP
We caught up with the Toronto artist celebrating his latest experimental entry.
Navie D, the name previously behind the production for tracks featuring such artists as Joey Bada$$, Big KRIT and Smoke DZA, has recently resolved to distance himself from his previous work slaving over production and beat-work for hip hop artists, culminating finally in new release POST EP. An experimental effort leaning towards elements of ambient, atmospheric sound, POST EP is the tentative work of an artist breaking new ground for himself and attempt to communicate himself once more on the world stage.
Describing himself humbly as, "a brown guy from Canada, I used to make beats for rappers, now I just make beats," Navie D accompanies the debut of POST EP with a brief conversation exploring his origins, new direction and curious techniques for self-promotion, cemeting himself as a singularly intriguing artist with a promising future.
Hey, Navie. POST EP marks a big change for you in terms of direction, what can you tell me about what’s prompted you to move in this new direction?
The change in direction began a couple years ago. I had become more and more fed up with trying to produce for rappers. The normal routine was me sending beats to rappers, sometimes not hearing from them at all, and eventually (in the good cases) them telling me they recorded to my music and are releasing it on a project, months or years after the fact. In other cases, rappers completely disregard telling me they are using my work and release it anyways, I assume to get around paying for production . And this seems to be a common trend; when you see Flying Lotus go off on Twitter about how rappers don't value producers, or Clams Casino accusing Jhene Aiko of stealing/recreating his beat and not giving him credit, or Chance the Rapper's people wanting to use production from Apollo Brown and not offering any type of compensation, it becomes clear for someone in my position, working up the totem pole, that even when you make it to the top you still get fucked with. So I am now choosing to go an alternate route and hopefully circumvent all that.
As well, producing in hip hop has becoming more and more stale for me creatively. I feel there is less of a premium placed on originality the more popular hip hop becomes. When you see the whole Desiigner/Future thing, and how rappers use the same types of flows and production, I question whether what I value aligns with what others value out of the genre of hip hop. I like uniqueness and originality when listening to production, and when rappers use very typical beats from me and leave weirder beats on the table, it becomes less satisfying and less fun for me creatively.
The sounds of POST EP sound very experimental and, in a lot of ways, very unique, where did you pull your inspiration from as far as sounds for the project go?
I feel I have a natural affinity for uniqueness and originality when it comes to production; I value that over musicality or technical prowess. And because of that, whenever everyone is zigging, I like to zag. So when it comes to inspiration, I tend to go towards things I don't often hear in other people's production. Whenever I make creative decisions, I just lean towards what I think is interesting; the weird 80's, spacey synths in there that mesh with vocal samples and melodic percussion, it's just gravitating towards oddity.
The instrumentals for POST also seem particularly expressive, and at times moody, what kind of head space were you in during the creative process and how did that extend in to the final sound?
Whenever I am making music, I can't necessarily say I am making cognizant choices at all. It feels like walking across a dark room, you sort of have a general idea of where you are going, but you still have to feel your way through. So I have songs that are less moody and expressive, some party/dance songs, I just go for whatever I feel at the time. When it comes time to choosing which songs make the project, I tended to lean towards whatever song cuts the deepest, emotionally speaking. The moodiness and expressiveness are just a result of making the choices after the fact; finding which songs take me from one emotional state to another. That's when I feel I have something a bit more powerful and resonant, and at that point you can only hope the audience feels the same way. For me, I feel like songs from other artists that are moody and expressive have tended to stick with me for a longer time, and are more impactful. Songs that are fun, high energy, party music tend to be fleeting for me personally. So I just went with what I value most out of music.
You’ve previously worked producing beats for hip hop artists such as Joey Bada$$ (on Sweet Dreams from Joey’s Summer Knights mixtape), what can you tell me about what that experience was like and how it has informed your career?
That was a pretty exciting time in my career. I have been sending Joey music since before 1999 released; I remember him having like 4000 followers on Twitter and seeing his ascension once things got crazy for him. I am super happy for the guy, seeing where he has gone to today. But in terms of the actual experience of working with him, there is no real sexy or exciting story unfortunately. I open my browser, go to my gmail, email him a bunch of beats I think he may like, and that summarizes my contribution.
In terms of how it informs my career, I had a naive idea at the time that it would change things for me. But after seeing the result: an uptick of struggle rappers emailing me for free beats, and a few more social media followers, I realized that maybe that isn't the magic answer I once thought it would be when I was younger. So because of those experiences I chose to go down this route, and build something of my own instead of trying to depend on others to provide me with the solutions.
You’re also a regular on the Reddit group Hip Hop Heads, what are your thoughts on Reddit as a platform for artists and what have your experiences been like trying to get publicity for yourself and this project through that?
I like the community there. It's hard finding people that genuinely give a shit about music at all, so finding a place on the internet like that is pretty valuable. I go there mostly to keep up with what is going on and find music I like, and seeing what others like. I just had the idea that maybe they would like the music I make, so I put it out there. It seemed to go well, and it was a nice sign - seeing that people do dig what I do now musically.
I understand that you’re currently based in Toronto, and I’m curious what your thoughts and feelings are on the new wave of sound coming out of the city?
Like most sounds, it was really interesting and cool in the beginning. It's been cool seeing Toronto/Canada being taken seriously when it comes to hip hop music. But having said that, most of what I hear coming out now sounds very derivative of what has already been made popular. The whole thing with the sliding basslines, low-cut filter effects, and a crooning R&B singer on top is kind of old to me. Again, I value uniqueness and originally in production, and so I would like to see more Toronto artists take risks and maybe go for new original sounds instead of just copying what's been made popular by the OVO guys. I would also have to say that Canadian artists outside the sphere of hip hop have been more interesting to me; people like Caribou, Grimes, Crystal Castles, etc. Maybe that is more a statement on the genre of hip hop than Toronto itself.
What’s next for Navie D following the release of POST EP?
In my head, I have an idea for another EP, and then an LP after that. I already have the names and concepts ready for them. But like the age-old Mike Tyson quote, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face. So who knows where I will end up next.
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