As oversaturated with paint-by-numbers productions as contemporary electronic music may be, Nazariff A.K.A. Rodger Edmonds beautifully blurs the line separating mainstream from obscure. An inventive and capable producer who has helped shape the soundscapes of numerous hip-hop, rock and pop artists, his solo releases exhibit broader dimension than the trap and future bass tracks to which they most closely compare.
From remixes of songs like Adele’s “Hello” and Autograf’s “Dream” to originals like his genre-bending January 2016 single, “Ghost,” Edmonds has not only demonstrated a keen ear for sound design subtlety but an advanced sense of melody and arrangement as well. His DJ sets also never disappoint, which has landed the name Nazariff on the bill of such massives as Dreamscape and Nightmare Festival.
Growing up in a household full of women outside Washington, D.C., Edmonds spent many of his formative years a social outcast. He found a constructive outlet in music production around the age of 15, and connected with aspiring hip-hop artists by using software like FL Studio and Pro Tools to lay down the beats that underscored their verses. After graduating high school he came to pursue his craft more seriously, however, when being exposed to a rising music trend led him to experiment with different sounds.
Traveling around the world served to expand his creative horizons, particularly a trip to Las Vegas for the 2010 edition of Electric Daisy Carnival. Witnessing performances at the festival by the likes of EDM icons Kaskade, Swedish House Mafia and Chuckie inspired him to try his hand at electronic music’s more mainstream iterations. He launched the Nazariff project with a house remix of “Diamonds” by Rihanna in 2012, a year that happened to coincide with many of the milestones that marked EDM’s U.S. shift into the mainstream spotlight.
Edmonds was first offered a paid DJ gig at a foam party that took place in a parking lot in New Jersey, and went on to perform at events like Blackout at D.C. nightclub Bliss as well as area venues like Flash, Capitale, Torrent and Soundcheck Nightclub. Being that his tempered studio expertise had already afforded him opportunities to ghost produce for world-famous hip-hop artists by that time, Edmonds also expanded his list of collaborators to include R&B singer/songwriter Camille Michelle Gray. He produced the entirety of her 2014 debut EP, Street Cinema, and has also contributed to two songs that she’s released under her live music side project NUEX.
In the time since, Edmonds has also made poignant additions to his discography as Nazariff. His August, 2016 remix of The Chainsmokers’ “Closer,” for instance, captured the attention of a wide audience; its shimmering synth melodies and resonant piano chords borrowed tastefully from the source material while a brand new bass drop gave his reimagining a degree of festival appeal. In the same year, he also delivered DJ sets Dreamscape and Nightmare Festival, which reinforced his presence in the East Coast festival circuit.
Nowadays, Edmonds cites post-EDM artists like Flume, What So Not and Hotel Garuda as his most notable influences – and his own creative process certainly results in songs that bear similar stylistic hallmarks. As opposed to most producers of bass music varieties, he pays close attention to the high end of each arrangement and will often write ten or fifteen chords for each concept before he decides on one that fits it best. Nonetheless, he still recognizes the importance of “playing the room” as a DJ, and can just as easily perform a set of top 40 or big room house if the setting and audience call for it.
As the turning tides of electronic music result in a new wave of fans whom seek out sounds of greater substance, Nazariff’s intelligent yet infectious signature style has struck a chord with more listeners than ever before. Keep an eye out for his name on the flyer for your favorite festival as his discography continues to grow.