DJ Art Official (Newtown Sound)

  • When: 3rd Mar
  • Where: Newtown Sound Stage
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DJ, producer and musician, Anand Naran (known behind the turntables as DJ Art Official and NEWTOWN SOUND) is a long-time contributor to Aotearoa – New Zealand’s ever growing reggae music scene. His tireless works and efforts over the years are true testament to the passion and love that he carries for the music and culture – as can be witnessed in both his performances, and also in many projects off the stage.

Art was raised in a family of musical enthusiasts and was surrounded by instruments and music-making all of his life. He grew up in Newtown, a bubbling arts and multi-cultural centre in Wellington NZ, where his musical influences ranged from Indian and Polynesian to Maori, and many others from within the diverse community.

His DJ career started with aspirations to become a turntablist and he soon developed strong skills in this area. The techniques he learnt in these early years continue to be a crucial component of his live shows today, and showcase elements from both hip-hop and reggae culture. A serious vinyl collector, but lacking access to DJ equipment Art began presenting radio shows by night on Wellington’s Radio Active FM at the age of 17.

It was at this time that Art was mentored by some of Aotearoa’s leading figures in bass culture and soon invitations followed to join forces with the established Djs on specialist primetime Reggae and HipHop shows. Presenting on the popular station also lead to DJ bookings at various local clubs and venues.

A versatile DJ and skilled soundman, as his career progressed, he has performed alongside and supported local acts like The Blackseeds, Ladi 6, Messenjah (Reality Chant), Katchafire, House Of Shem, The Mighty Asterix, Dam Native, CXL, Silva Emcee, High Stakes Records, Yung Shottaz, and Iron Will.

Fulltime study and learning from experience, he became a first class studio operator and multi-instrumentalist. He is also an accomplished beat-maker and has worked and recorded artists from throughout NZ and abroad.

As his career progressed, Art set up NEWTOWN SOUND to make his mark in production and events projects. Over time the works of Newtown Sound have become a strong force in Aotearoa reggae and hip-hop music, in production, event management (such as Newtown Festival, now the country’s largest annual free street festival), promotion, and mentoring artists.

Mix-CDs are another focus for Art and he has released several popular series, including the acclaimed ‘Ghetto Red Hot’. Art has used these mixes as a way to record and promote homegrown talent alongside some of the world’s best artists.

Art then went on to establish New Zealand’s first website strictly devoted to uniting and promoting Aotearoa reggae in all its forms, WWW.NICEUP.ORG.NZ – Aotearoa Reggae Online. NiceUp quickly expanded to become a central hub for building the reggae community, promotion, production and mentoring. Events management also became a large focus and NiceUp has run a range of tours/shows with national and international artists (Jah Mason, Jr Reid, Jr Kelly, Rodney P, Deadly Hunta, The Bug, Warrior Queen, Rhythm and Sound, Tikiman), as well as film screenings, artist workshops and outdoor events.

No stranger to performing away from his home turf, Art is a regular traveler and performer and has strong alliances throughout NZ. In the last twelve months, he has also performed in Berlin, London, Glasgow, Udaipur, and Delhi alongside top ranking reggae performers such as Mungo’s Hi Fi, Earl Gateshead, Rhythm and Sound, Deadly Hunta, Mr Williamz and Reggae Rajas.

‘I feel I’ve been blessed to have come by so much great music in my life, and I am so proud of the music coming out of Aotearoa right now. You’ll hear that in my sets, representing some serious talent’

‘For me its about connecting and building together, so the musical bonds are important to me – the artists I work with are like family’

Be sure to keep a look out for Newtown Sound productions, collaborations and releases in 2011:
- ‘Sirens’ (12” vinyl release) by Dam Native
- ‘Foundation’ (single) featuring vocalist Israel Starr
- ‘Legalise’ (album production) NZ Hip Hop by Wellington group Evil Mule
- ‘Ghetto Red Hot – Vol. 5’ (Mix CD) mixed by DJ Art Official

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