Deejay Keo Nozari’s hits the Billboard Top 20 with "Rewind"
Rising music star Keo Nozari hit the top 20 on Billboard's Club Play chart with "Rewind," the third single off his debut album "Late Nite VIP." This feat is his first chart appearance in the United States.
"This has opened doors and exposed me to more people that hadn't seen me before," Nozari told EDGE in a recent sit-down interview in Manhattan.
In fact Nozari, who still manages himself, added he will soon meet with a major label executive to discuss European promotion and distribution. This pinnacle caps a seven-year journey for the Minneapolis-born Nozari, who writes and produces his own material.
Of Persian and French heritage, Nozari is the only child of a businessman and a painter. He remains a fixture in Manhattan nightclubs as a deejay and also writes a weekly music column for Next Magazine.
"I can balance both aspects to my career, artistic and business," Nozari said.
He did some writing and television work, including a stint at MTV News, after he studied engineering and recording at New York University and for a short time acting at Middlesex University in London. Nozari soon realized, however, he wanted to be on the other side of showbiz.
He began to play at CBGB's and Fez. And through that experience he met Ellis Miah, a producer who had worked with Loleatta Holloway, Yoko Ono and other artists. Miah helped Nozari with production on his first album, which began in the Brooklyn home of Barry Harris of Thunderpuss.
"At that time, a friend of mine was starting his own party in Brooklyn and needed a deejay, so I told him I was a deejay," Nozari laughed. "I was scared to death."
Nozari managed to pull it off, and that led to eventual gigs at Therapy and other bars.
"It's kind of the wave of the future to sing, write and deejay," he said. "But there are times when people get confused by all the roles."
Armin van Buuren, whom Nozari described as "one of the top three DJs in the world," remixed "Close Enough," the first single off the album he released in late 2005. Van Buuren released it on his own Armada label.
"To be on his label with a remix even before the CD came out was pretty amazing," Nozari said. "I got a lot of licensing for that."
If the first single paved the way for him in Europe, the second, "Question of Monogamy," firmly established his gay audience.
The accompanying video was so controversial that an MTV executive (MTV's parent company, Viacom, owns the gay network Logo) send Nozari a warning letter before it was released. The main concern stemmed from a scene where one man touches another's thigh.
That, however, was mild compared to the final result, in which Nozari, who did much of the editing, had the final say. While there is a variety of sexual play in the video, it is perhaps best remembered for the nude shower scene with Nozari and two other men. The video went to number one on Logo and was named "Ultimate Sexiest Video."
While the personal story behind "Close Enough" left him feeling vulnerable when that song went public, he felt much less so with "Question of Monogamy," despite the explicit video.
"There were so many people involved with the video that I was able to have fun, and it was also a little down the road after the first one," Nozari said.
"Rewind" came nearly three years after he released the CD. Because Nozari runs his own label, financing takes a toll on the pacing of releases.
"That's part of the reason it takes so long between videos, and you have to find people to collaborate with," he said.
Nozari was fortunate enough to have worked with the Wild Boys to remix "Rewind," just as they were between projects for Rihanna and Janet Jackson.
"This third single has established me in the dance world," he said.
Like Minneapolis' hometown hero Prince, Nozari's life seems to be all music, all the time. Although he claims to be a great cook and have an interest in politics, he follows Joseph Campbell's advice.
"I'm following my bliss," Nozari said. "Music is something I have to do, like breathing."
Keo Nozari's music is available on iTunes, PerfectBeat.com, Amazon.com, Virgin Megastore in New York and many more. His videos can be seen on YouTube. Nozari also deejays at Therapy (348 W. 52nd St.) on Wednesdays and Barracuda (275 W. 22nd St.) on Thursdays. He will also spin at Vinyl on Halloween night. Log onto www.keonozari.com for more information.