Shavo Odadjian: Wikis


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Shavarsh Odadjian
Շավարշ Օդաջյան

Shavo 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 35)
Origin Yerevan, Armenian SSR
Genres Rock, metal, experimental, hip hop
Occupations musician, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, music video director
Instruments Bass Guitar, Guitar, Vocals, Oud, Sitar, Drums, Violin
Years active 1993 - Present
Labels American, Columbia, urSESSION
Associated acts System of a Down, Achozen, George Clinton
Notable instruments
Gibson Thunderbird

Shavarsh "Shavo" Odadjian (born April 22, 1974) 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 has been on hiatus since 2006, and Odadjian has since been working on a plethora of projects, namely Achozen with The RZA, and his virtual online art district/networking site, Ursession.[1]


Early life

Shavo Odadjian was born in Yerevan, Armenia. 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.[2]

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.[3]


System of a Down

Shavo performing at a London festival

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 after meeting Malakian and Tankian in a recording studio, where he was recording with his own band. The two members called upon Shavo Odadjian for assistance, as he originally held the position of band manager and promoter. 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.[4]
Shavo's signature beard

In 1995, Odadjian became the permanent bassist of the band. They named themselves System of a Down, after a poem written by band mate Daron Malakian entitled "Victims of a Down." Odadjian was not keen on being labeled "Victims," and thought that the word System appealed to a much broader audience. The band has stated that they also wanted their CDs to be placed in stores alongside their favorite band, Slayer. It was at this time that Velvet Hammer Music took over Odadjian's original managerial responsibilities. Their first release was titled "Sugar." Soon after, drummer Andy Khachaturian joined the band but was replaced in 1997 by current drummer, John Dolmayan, due to a hand injury. Henceforth, System of a Down was born.[5]

Odadjian plays both guitar and bass in System of a Down, and also sings live backing vocals. His usual style of playing bass is with a pick, although he also has been seen using his fingers during certain songs. Shavo is credited with writing noted System of a Down songs "Toxicity", "Sugar", "Jet-Pilot", "Bounce," "Mind," "Dreaming," "U Fig," along with others. He also has directed a majority of the band's music videos, and is responsible for stage design and lighting for each of their live performances.[6]

Odadjian became renowned for his notoriously scaling, braided beard, spiked arm bracelet, towering 6'1 height, chiseled abdomens, rugby socks, and altogether edgy demeanor. In 2006, Shavo's famous beard hung past his belly button. Shavo's beard quickly became a part of his signature look. His high-energy, rhythmic movement during live performances have also become signature with fans.[7]

In 2004–2005, System released a double album six months apart. The albums, Hypnotize and Mezmerize, both debuted at #1 in the US, making System of a Down, along with the Beatles, Guns 'N Roses, and rappers 2Pac and DMX, the only artists to ever have two studio albums debut at #1 in the same year.[8] Notably, System of a Down made Billboard history by becoming the first band ever to release two original records (Hypnotize and Mezmerize) in the same year that hit #1 on the charts (contrasting from the aforementioned artists, whose double records were compilations and Greatest Hits records).[9] In February 2006, System of a Down won the Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for "B.Y.O.B.", beating out other established artists such as Nine Inch Nails and Robert Plant.

Shavo rocking out in concert

Along with their distinctive music, System of a Down is equally known for the biting, tongue-in-cheek lyrics – often comical, yet socially and politically charged. Odadjian refutes the label of System as a "political band" in an interview:

We're not a political band. We're a life band. In the world we live today, politics plays a major role in every one of our lives so of course we're going to speak about politics but we also speak about sex, drugs, laughing, crying and sadness and death and life, including politics...If you write a song about New Orleans because help didn't come to them from their own country for four days, you're going to speak about that. That's something strong. That's huge, that's big, that's happening now. But that doesn't make us a political band. That makes us a band that raises awareness about certain issues.[10][11]

The band is currently on hiatus, as group members explore and take on outside projects.[12]

Reuniting for recent performances

On October 31, 2009, Shavo hosted the event "Hallow9een" at The World-Famous Roxy, in which he and fellow System band mates Daron Malakian and John Dolmayan reunited to jam on stage and perform various songs together, including System of a Down's "Suite-Pee." [13] The System of a Down trio also came together on November 20, 2009 and performed System songs together for a benefit honoring coma-stricken Chi Cheng of The Deftones, with Chino Moreno of Deftones singing on lead vocals.[14]


Odadjian started a side project in May 2006 named Achozen. Achozen is the musical alliance between Shavo, Wu-Tang Clan founder The RZA, Kinetic-9 (aka: Beretta 9 from Killarmy), and up-and-comer, the Reverend William Burke from Chicago. Achozen's mantra is:

Many shall come, only a few shall be Achozen.

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.[15]

Shavo and The Rza performing music from Achozen

Achozen's debut features an eclectic array of guest performers that includes Funk-master George Clinton, Red Hot Chili Peppers' guitarist John Frusciante, Wu-Tang affiliate Killah Priest, Wu-Tang founding member GZA, emcee Sick Jacken from Psycho Realm, and Angolan rapper Leggezin Fin.

The music of Achozen is described by one writer as a cosmic experience in hip hop:

Achozen is space hip hop, rap without a coast or even a planet. Instead, each song revolves around a solar system of feeling. The album explores and exorcises a spectrum of emotions, as each track delves into either pain, ecstasy, hate or hope. Utilizing sitar and violin, Shavo breaks the mold, playing live instruments across the album, as he constructs beats with a cosmic fluidity.[16]

Odadjian has described Achozen as "a musical revolution. It is not just a band, it's a way of thinking." Rza and Shavo anticipate upcoming tours. Achozen also appears on the major motion picture, Babylon A.D., on which Achozen song "Deuces" is heard blaring at the introduction of the film.[17] Achozen's first live show was at the Key Club in L.A in December 1, 2006.[18]

On Friday, November 13, 2009 the second Achozen track "Salute/Sacrifice" was released exclusively as a free download on Odadjian's online art district and networking site, from the upcoming Achozen debut album. The Achozen album is anticipated to be released in mid-2010.[19]


In early 2008, Odadjian founded urSESSION, a virtual online art district and networking site aimed at uniting artists of all genres and styles around the world. The website is also founded by Odadjian's long-time friend and entertainment attorney, Narb Avedissian. Power 106's World Famous Wake-Up Show King Tech and Sway (also MTV resident veejay) are partners in the site, providing exclusive archived, never-before-seen footage of Eminem, Dr. Dre, and other prominent rappers when they first began in the industry.[20]

In early 2008, urSESSION announced The 100K Battle, a contest for the online community in which the artist with the most votes by the community won a round-trip ticket to Los Angeles to perform on Power 106's The World-Famous Wake-Up Show, along with other prizes. [21]

DJing and Other Projects

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.

Shavo spinning a set at a club in Hollywood, Ca

Odadjian was executive producer for Abloom, a side project of members of Onesidezero, Snot, and Soulfly. Odadjian is currently mentoring the band Chameleon Conductor record their debut album. Shavo's younger brother Dave Odadjian plays bass in the band, alongside Shavo's cousin Harry Markarian, who plays the guitar.[22]


In September 2009, it was announced that Odadjian will be performing live as DecompoZeR in Europe in October. He will be accompanying RZA. DecompoZeR is Shavo's producer alias. He announced that completed tracks are anticipated to be released in 2010, including a brand-new GraveDiggaz track featuring Frukwan aka: The Gatekeeper. Other collaborations include Sixty Second Assassin, Killah Priest, and others.[19]


Directing and Editing

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) [23], 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).[24] 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.[25] 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.

Scoring Films

In 2007–2008, Odadjian and The Rza teamed up with Hans Zimmer in scoring major motion-picture, summer blockbuster movie Babylon A.D., starring Vin Diesel.[26] Along with the song "Deuces," Shavo is credited with writing the songs "A Single Moment", "Foreshadow," "Blade Runner 0.8.," "Rollin DissgEyes," "Build Your Enemies," "Digital Slaps," and "Immaculate" for the scoring of the film.[27]


Shavo's involvement in the arts began at an early age, as he first appeared in the 1993 "Big Gun" video by AC/DC, standing alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in the crowd sporting a backwards baseball cap and a white t-shirt, while Schwarzwenneger catches a stick of dynamite. He also made a cameo as a DJ in the film Zoolander.

In 2006, Odadjian starred in the critically-acclaimed film "Screamers," a documentary by internationally-known director Carla Garapedian. The film follows Shavo and the rest of the rock band System of a Down as they tour Europe and the US, pointing out the horrors of modern genocide that began in Armenia in 1915 up though Darfur today.[28]

Painting and Artwork

[[File:Shavoozzfest.jpg‎|thumb|left|One of Shavo's 26 abstract paintings that hung as a backdrop for Ozzfest 2006 Odadjian is an avid and passionate painter. His artwork has been featured in many System music videos and live shows -including an abstract piece highlighted in System of a Down's "Hypnotize" video.[29] Odadjian's painting style is abstract with loud, bright colors that bleed into each other. During Ozzfest of 2006, Odadjian created a 27-piece, abstract mosaic of paintings that was utilized as the stage backdrop for System's headlining Ozzfest performance. (Stage design in System of a Down performances is also attributed to Odadjian). One critic wrote of the Ozzfest performance:

"Where most of the other bands on the bill stuck to the traditional metal imagery of skulls, blood and gore to enhance their stages, System went the other way, offering a series of abstract paintings that swished across an enormous video screen." [30]

Each of Odadjian's paintings for the 2006 Ozzfest performance was hand-picked by Odadjian himself. Odadjian states that, in pairing each of his pieces/backdrops to songs, he aimed to coordinate each unique emotion of a specific song to the matching vibe of his paintings.[31][32]

Human rights awareness and youth mentoring

[[File:ShavGenNext.jpg‎|thumb|right|Shavo accepting GenNext's "Community Hero Award"]] Odadjian is a human rights activist known to take on an avid role in protesting against human atrocities, including -but not limited to -the recognition and prevention of worldwide genocide.[33] He also actively participates in youth mentoring, and frequents charitable events that work to further research for cancer-stricken children.[34] On February 27, 2009, Shavo Odadjian was presented with AGBU's GenNEXT "Community Hero Award," an award paying tribute to his outstanding work as a role model for young Armenian-Americans. Odadjian was nominated for the award by young kids in the community. During his acceptance speech, Shavo highlighted the importance of being active in your local community:[35]

If anyone has a voice in today's society, they should use that voice righteously and benevolently.[36]

Shavo later discussed the personal value of his nomination by the kids of the community for an award:

It was better than winning the Grammy. The Grammy is just industry; it's corporate. This is from the kids. This shows you that a difference happened. The best thing in the world is when you can get someone to notice a difference. It was an amazing feeling. I know where it came from. The kids nominated me, and it was the best.[37]


System of a Down

George Clinton


Other Appearances

Year Artist Song Release
Albums and soundtracks
2003 Serart "Narina" Serart
2007 Wu-Tang Clan "Unpredictable" 8 Diagrams[38]
2009 Sunz of Man & Shavo Odadjian "Dead Birds" The RZA Presents: Afro Samurai Resurrection OST
2009 Brooklyn Zu "If I had a Gun" Chamber #9, Verse 32 [39]
2009 Raekwon "Gihad" Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… Pt. II





  • SansAmp bass pedal



  • In 2002, System of a Down was nominated for a Grammy Award in Best Metal Performance for their song Chop Suey! but lost to Schism by Tool
  • In 2003, System of a Down was nominated for a Grammy Award in Best Hard Rock Performance for Aerials but lost to All My Life by Foo Fighters
  • In 2005, System of a Down won for Best Alternative Act in the Europe Music Awards
  • In 2006, System of a Down won their first Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for B.Y.O.B.
  • In 2006, System of a Down won the "MTV Good Woodie Award" for their song Question!
  • In 2006, System of a Down's song Toxicity was #14 on the VH1 Top 40 Metal Songs list
  • In 2007, System of a Down was nominated for a Grammy Award in Best Hard Rock Performance for their song Lonely Day but lost to Woman by Wolfmother


  1. ^ "Rolling Stone: System of a Down Bassist Plans 'Revolutionary' Social Network/Record Label"
  2. ^ "NYRock: Interview with System of a Down"
  3. ^ "Last FM: System of a Down Biography"
  4. ^ "Interview: System of A Down Continues to Rage with Hypnotize"
  5. ^ "Singing with a Purpose"
  6. ^ "Shavo's Yerevan Magazine Interview Dec. 09"
  7. ^ "System of a Down Bio"
  8. ^ "System of a Down: 'Hypnotize'"
  9. ^ "System of a Down"
  10. ^ "System of a Down: Not a Political Band"
  11. ^ "Interview: System of a Down"
  12. ^ "MTV News: System Of A Down Aren't Breaking Up—They're Going On Hiatus"
  13. ^ "Hallow9een Show Hosted by Shavo"
  14. ^ "3/4 of System of a Down Reunite for Chi Benefit Show"
  15. ^ "Blabbermouth: System of a Down Bassist to Perform at WeThePeople Festival"
  16. ^ "Achozen: a name to remember"
  17. ^ "Babylon A.D. Movie Details/Cast"
  18. ^ "System of a Down’s Shavo Odadjian: The Gibson Interview"
  19. ^ a b "Shavo Odadjian Releases a New Achozen Song for Free on Friday the 13th"
  20. ^ [ "Shavo Odadjian: The System of a Down bassist on making music, film, and opening up the Internet"]
  21. ^ "Shavo On Achozen Progress and UrSession Details"
  22. ^ a b "Shavo's in the Studio Recording with Chameleon Conductor"
  23. ^ "VH1: System of a Down Find Answer to 'Question!' In a Dream"
  24. ^ "System Of A Down Find Answer To 'Question!' In A Dream"
  25. ^ "Bad Brains Video News And Tour", Paul Tao,, May 15, 2007
  26. ^ "The RZA, Hans Zimmer Teamed Up to Score Vin Diesel’s Babylon A.D."
  27. ^ "IMDB: Shavo Odadjian"
  28. ^ "IMDB: 'Screamers' Movie"
  29. ^ "MTV: System of a Down's 'Hypnotize'
  30. ^ "System of a Down Rises Above the Dross"
  31. ^ "Shavo Odadjian Of System Of A Down: 'You Always Have To Top Yourself'"
  32. ^ "VH1: Bassist Odadjian puts band in tuxedos for reincarnation-themed clip"
  33. ^ "MTV: System of a Down Mark Genocide by Playing, Not Preaching"
  34. ^ "Shavo and Two Real Heroes"
  35. ^ "Shavo receives 'Community Hero' award from AGBU"
  36. ^ "Generation Next Mentorship Program Honors Odadjian"
  37. ^ "Shavo and 2 Real Heroes"
  38. ^ Shavo Discography at Discogs
  39. ^ Brooklyn Zu ft. Shavo 'If I Had a Gun'
  40. ^
  41. ^

External links

Simple English

[[File:|thumb|right|Shavo Odadjian]] Shavo Odadjian (Armenian: Շավո Օդաջյան) (born April 22 1974, Yerevan, Armenia as Shavarsh Odadjian) was the bassist for the Armenian American-based alternative metal band System of a Down and now Dj and vocal of Achozen.



In his youth, Shavo used to spend his time skateboarding and listening to punk rock and heavy metal music. He started managing the band Soil with Malakian and Tankian in 1993 after meeting them in a recording studio. In 1995, Shavo became the permanent bassist of the band. They then named themselves "System of a Down" after a poem titled "Victims of a Down" authored by bandmate Daron Malakian.

Odadjian is a popular DJ in the LA area met by "Dj Tatic", taking part in such events as the "Rock/DJ Explosion" on March 2 2001 at The Roxy in Hollywood and collaborating with bandmate Tankian on SerArt, the singer's side project with Armenian musician Arto Tunçboyacıyan.


System of a Down

  • 1998: System of a Down
  • 2001: Toxicity
  • 2002: Steal This Album!
  • 2005: Mezmerize
  • 2005: Hypnotize


  • 2008: Untitled


  • In 2006, System of a Down won their first Grammy for Best hard rock performance for B.Y.O.B.
  • In 2006, they won the "MTV Good Woodie Award" for their song "Question!"
  • In 2006, they were #14 on the VH1 Top 40 Metal Songs with "Toxicity"
  • In 2007, they were nominated for a Grammy Award in Best Hard Rock Performance for their song Lonely Day

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