Shavo Odadjian

Shavarsh “Shavo” Odadjian (born April 22, 1974 in Yerevan, Armenia) is an Armenian-American songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, music video director/editor, music producer, and artist/painter. He is best known as the bassist and occasional songwriter of the Grammy Award-winning rock band, System of a Down. The band was on hiatus from 2006 to 2010, and Odadjian had since been working on a plethora of projects, namely Achozen with The RZA, and his virtual online art district/networking site, Ursession.

Shavo Odadjian was born in Yerevan, Armenia. Odadjian moved to Los Angeles at a very young age. He attended the Alex Pilibos Elementary School in Los Angeles, an Armenian parochial school, along with future bandmates Daron Malakian and Serj Tankian, although they were not acquainted at the time due to a gap in their ages. During his youth, Shavo has stated that he spent most of his time skateboarding and listening to punk rock and heavy metal music. Among others, he credits Dead Kennedys, KISS, Slayer, The Beatles, and Black Sabbath as his favorite bands, and the most substantial influence on his musical development and career.

The four principal members feel that their unique sound is not only spiritual in nature, but a new genre of “heavy hip hop,” not “rap-metal.” There are no heavy guitars on the album, but the sound is genre-blending. Most of the Achozen album was recorded at one of Shavo’s two studios and produced by the Grammy-winning musician. The bulk of the beats were created by Shavo (only one or two samples were used on the entire record) who also played live instruments throughout, including bass and sitar. The RZA, who contributed his share of beats, Kinetic 9 and the Reverend William Burke sing a majority of the vocals and lyrics, which are, according to Shavo, “some of the most innovative, poetic and righteous words and vocals that I’ve ever heard.” Shavo’s vocals can also be heard on the Achozen tracks “Deuces,” “Salute/Sacrifice,” and other songs on the album.

In addition, Odadjian is a popular DJ in the LA area, taking part in such events as the “Rock/DJ Explosion” on March 2, 2001 at The Roxy in Hollywood, CA and collaborating with System of a Down bandmate Serj Tankian on Serart, the singer’s collaboration album with multitalented Armenian musician Arto Tunçboyacıyan. Shavo goes by the name DJ Tactics, and spins a wide spectrum of music ranging from hip-hop, tech-house, classic rock, metal, and etc.

Recently, Odadjian has appeared playing as part of the backing band of George Clinton (of Parliament/Funkadelic). In September 2008 he appeared (playing guitar instead of bass) in a live performance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno with Clinton. Shavo also appears on Clinton’s 2008 album “George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love”, which features many guest musicians, including Shavo’s Achozen bandmate RZA, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Carlos Santana.

Stating himself to be a “very visual person,” Odadjian has directed and edited extensive music videos for System of a Down, including Aerials, Toxicity, Question! (Shavo states the video’s idea was conceived from one of his dreams), and Hypnotize. He also directed the Taproot video for the song, Mine.

Odadjian’s directing style implements surreal atmospheric themes and integrates innovative methods in filming, inspired by Rod Serling (Twilight Zone). Odadjian’s Serling-esque style is apparent in System of a Down music videos “Aerials,” “Question,” and Taproot’s video -also directed by Odadjian – “Mine.” On May 15, 2007, it was revealed that Shavo Odadjian would be directing the first video from Bad Brains’s album Build a Nation.Director Shavo Odadjian makes an appearance at the end of the concert video with frontman H.R. The two are seen charismatically walking stage side, conversing and smoking together.

While attending college (majoring in Psychology and minoring in Art) and working in a bank, Odadjian began managing Soil -the band Daron Malakian and Serj Tankian were a part of in 1993. Shavo had met Malakian and Tankian in a recording studio, where he was recording with his own band. The two members called upon Shavo Odadjian for assistance, and Shavo became manager of the band. Shavo says in an early interview that securing System’s first local gig was a struggle:

I was managing the band and we had no demo [tape], we had no money, but we wanted to play a show. I was working at the bank and between wire transfers, I would be calling the Roxy. ‘Hey, can you give us a show, man? Eddie, give us a show.’ He’d say, ‘I need a demo tape, I can’t just give you a show.’ In five minutes, I’d call again. One day the Roxy just blew up and said, ‘Fine! Go sell 75 tickets.’ We sold 150.

Shavarsh (Shavo) Odadjian
Շավարշ Օդաջյան

Odadjian live in concert
Background information
Birth name Shavarsh S. Odadjian
Also known as DJ Tactic (1998–2008)
DJ DecompozeR (2009 –present)
Born April 22, 1974 (1974-04-22) (age 36)
Origin Yerevan, Armenian SSR
Genres Rock, heavy metal, experimental, hip hop
Occupations Musician, songwriter, music video director
Instruments Bass, guitar, vocals, oud, sitar, drums, violin, turntables
Years active 1993–present
Labels American, Columbia, urSESSION
Associated acts System of a Down, Achozen, George Clinton
Notable instruments
Gibson Thunderbird


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