On April 22, SYSTEM OF A DOWN bassist Shavarsh "Shavo" Odadjian spoke to drummer John Dolmayan during an Instagram Live session about Shavo's new side project called NORTH KINGSLEY. Joining him in the band are Ray Hawthorne and Saro Paparian.
"It started a year and a half ago," Shavo said about NORTH KINGSLEY's formation (see video below). "It was with two guys I met at a friend's studio. One of the guys, Saro, he was so great at the Logic [audio recording and editing software] and all the programming and stuff. I had him come over to my studio and teach me how to do Logic, how to run Logic, 'cause I was on Pro Tools for all my life. And as I'm learning, on one of the songs that we were practicing to make, we made a great track. And I was, like, 'Dude, this is really cool.' So he sat and he did it real quick. And then I thought of something else, and we did another one real quick, and I [thought], 'We've got something here.' So that was a year and a half ago — almost two years ago.
"Originally, it was just gonna be me doing music, just instrumentals, and then having friends like Serj [Tankian, SYSTEM OF A DOWN] and Jonathan Davis [KORN] and some of my rapper friends, like B-Real [CYPRESS HILL], just do vocals on it and be like a 'best-of' thing," he explained. "And then when Ray came through, I was, like, 'Man, this guy's got a lot of great words.' And, 'Maybe we should do this for real — as a group, as a unit, and not just a project.' So it developed, bro. It developed, and now it's at a point where we have 12 songs ready to go."
Regarding how he plans to make NORTH KINGSLEY's music available to the masses, Shavo said: "We were gonna drop it as a [full] record, but I decided I'm gonna market it differently and I'm gonna drop it as pieces of a record throughout the year. So three songs will come out on May 22nd — I set the date to the day [SYSTEM OF A DOWN's] show [in Los Angeles] was gonna be. First three songs with three videos, and then we'll do three more every three months — kind of like trilogies for a whole year. So we'll release three songs every four months — something like that."
NORTH KINGSLEY's music will be released through Shavo's 22Red label. 22Red is also the name of his southern California-based cannabis brand and lifestyle brand, which he launched in late 2018.
On the topic of how he came up with the NORTH KINGSLEY band name, Shavo told Marijuana Retail Report: "When I moved from Armenia to L.A., I moved to North Kingsley Drive. That was my street, that's where I grew up and I saw everything there. I started skateboarding there. I witnessed homelessness, the poor, you know, I noticed gangs. I learned about friendship. I saw sex there — there were prostitutes. I grew up there, so it means a lot to me. So when I say that name, that's my growth, how I became who I am, you know?"
Odadjian also talked about the 22Red brand's symbolism, saying: "I was born April 22nd, I was married May 22nd, I was 22 when SYSTEM OF A DOWN got picked up… I was kind of born with 22." The "red" part of 22Red comes from Odadjian's synesthesia, a disorder which joins objects such as letters, shapes, numbers or people's names with a sensory perception such as smell, color or flavor. One day when he was brainstorming about what the brand's name could be, someone asked him, "So what color is two?", and the brand was born.
Shavo has repeatedly expressed his frustration over the lack of a new studio album from SYSTEM OF A DOWN. The band has yet to release a follow-up to "Mezmerize" and "Hypnotize", which came out in 2005.
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