Hadji Gaviota // Pastimes+ (Review + Q&A)

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An eclectic contemporary pop project that features vivacious production and profoundly catchy songwriting, Hadji Gaviota is onto something special with Pastimes+. Check out the review and learn more about Hadji Gaviota in the Q&A below!

As the Queens based artist’s 3rd project, Pastimes+ is the latest installment into Gaviota’s already robust discography. In his latest work, Hadji Gaviota demonstrates a new level of optimism and comfort within the madness that is 2022.While Hadji’s last project Purgatory was aptly named for its late 2020 release, Pastimes+ reflects the contemplative yet casually insane nature of the past couple years. With themes of self-discovery inherent to each song and the reality of COVID looming over a couple tracks, the lyrics and headspace of this project are clearly influenced by the times we exist in. Moreover, Hadji finds the perfect way to synthesize the uneasy introspectiveness of the times with the optimism to keep moving forward through our everyday doubts and triumphs. 

What strikes me most about the songwriting is how, despite all the punchy lyrics and double takes you can make through every verse, each track can be summarized in about one or two lines. Furthermore, Hadji has a serious aptitude for communicating themes and experiences such as insecurities, breakups, and shooting your shot in the most playful and captivating way possible. For example, on jawn cena!, a song about being slept on yet remaining sure of self, Hadji states ‘Big love, when I get on TV. TiVo, every timе you miss my show Miss my show. Cena, they don’t evеr see me. See-thru, like I’m wearing camo.’ Clearly we all take our L’s and have our doubts, but Hadji remains principled in at least being sexy while it all unfolds. 

Hadji’s vocals also shine through on this project, showing a lot of range between the fast paced nature of tracks like shyhomie! to the toned down and reflective cadence of FIT PIC and EN VOGUE. Whether you’re at home staring at the ceiling, feeling real simpy, or headbanging with the homies, Pastimes+ has a song for any mood. The production on this project is no joke either. Hadji’s longtime homie Mike Mroz handled the majority of the production on tracks such as OYSTER, FIT PIC, BUBBLY, and HETEROCHROMIA. With further help on tracks from producers UrFriendJoe, DummyFresh, Pink Skies, Nick Sadler, and Richie Quake, Pastimes+ has an insane amount of talent channeled into every track. Super crispy and expertly mixed, each beat perfectly complements the dynamic vocals and songwriting of Hadji.

Pastimes+ is packed with anthems for our generation- for 20 somethings that are figuring things in a world that makes no sense whatsoever. Despite any uncertainty and sheer insanity of what’s going on, it feels good to be hit with quality music that was created within the circumstances of our times. Extremely optimistic, yet highly realistic, Pastimes+ is exactly what you might need to hear right now. 

Be sure to give Pastimes+ a listen and check out his first show in LA, April 5th @ the Echo!

Personal Favorites:

put the L in style!, FIT PIC, jawn cena!

album art by: Connor Dewhurst @imnotverychill

Q&A

How was your show at Knitting Factory Brooklyn? I know it’s been a while since your last live performance.

Hadji: Yeah, because of the pandemic and stuff I’ve only played two shows since August (2021). And then I was like, Omicron happened. Just trying to plan to make sure my next show would be a big thing to just take a second to get everything set up. But it’s funny because I went 18 months without any show. During quarantine, I played two the same weekend and then I went seven months again without playing live. So it was just like, ‘Damn, it’s like, hard to find the consistency.’ But in that period, I had been making a bunch of stuff and a lot of it was louder and more in your face like shyhomie!

You have a show coming up in LA, APR 5th @ the Echo- Are you excited?

Hadji:Definitely. So both shows are with my management team- the whole lineup we’re all on the same management team. So they were the ones who set it up. And it was really sick to watch them live. I had met Voda Fuji and monty.pk before. But it was every single one of their first shows except for me. So it was really crazy watching it because they were so fantastic. And I was just thinking ‘This is nuts like this is not even my first show.’ Not even close. I used to play in New York all the time before the pandemic. So it’s been really cool. Just like getting to watch them and we get to do it again in LA, which is fun for me. You know, the New York show is the hometown show- my parents were there. My friends from high school were there, you know? And I definitely know people in LA so it’s not gonna be completely random people, but it’s different. It’s gonna be fun. It’s really my first time playing somewhere where I don’t have roots.

What was your inspo for shyhomie? I feel like there’s a movement for guys that are afraid to talk to women. Are you the shyhomie?

Hadji: I think my thing with shyhomie! is that everybody knows the shy homie. But everybody at some point in their life has also been the shy homie. I definitely was thinking of this specific friend when I made it. But I know times where he’s super loud and outgoing, so he’s not always the shy homie. But he was, in this very specific moment, the shy homie. Then I thought about things that I’ve done and I’m like, you know, what? Sometimes I’m shy. And so I really just think it’s funny. I was surprised with how many people were just like ‘Damn, I relate to this.’ 

Mark George has a lot of writing credits on the project- it’s all quite fire- What’s your working relationship like with him?

Hadji: That’s me! It’s actually my government name. Yeah, so my first name is Mark. My middle name is George. My other middle name is Hadji. My last name is Parasekevas. My dad is from Greece. He came to America when he was a little kid. And he grew up with the last name Hadjiparaskevas.  So when he had a kid was just like ‘Yo, there’s no way I want my kid going through life in America with a last name as long as that’ so he shortened it to a name that is already still pretty long, which is Paraskevas. But he got people who called him Hadji a lot. And then he kept Hadji as my middle name and then people called me that even before I was making music. It comes from the Ottoman Empire’s rule of Greece or whatever. It’s pretty fascinating- I’m into history and stuff. 50% of people know me as Mark and the other 50% know me as Hadji.

So where did ‘Gaviota’ come from?

Hadji: So ‘gaviota’ means Seagull in Spanish. I was studying abroad in Cuba first semester and I was standing in the water and I was like ‘Yo, I need a fake last name that’ll be fire’. And then I thought ‘I like seagulls.’ I think they’re nature’s rock stars. So I was like, ‘You know what, I think this might be cool.’

What were your vibes when you made Pastimes+? Like pretty sad or happy?

Hadji: I made Oyster in September 2020. So that was like, kind of a weird time, you know, but I was trying to see the positives and things. So I was rolling out Purgatory at that point and was done with Purgatory like, music wise, but I was working on the next thing, and that was for a song I made and that song kind of felt like a reset- kind of like a new pocket for me. And so it was easy for that to make Heterochromia and Fit Pic. Yeah, it was all post pandemic, you know, kind of seeing life was like, to regain focus about what it was I was trying to do music and who my personality really was. I love branching out and doing different things but I think that project was the beginning of me really starting to hone in on what it is that makes me neat. So for those songs, they came together pretty quickly. Bubbly also, I probably made the day that Purgatory came out actually, which was cool. And then I made En Vogue right around New Year’s that year. There’s a bunch of music I made in 2021 that’s coming soon. But songs like Shyhomie! were made in April- Jawn Cena was made I think in February on Zoom actually maybe the only good song I ever made on Zoom.

What’s your favorite thing about being from Queens though? Do you think it influences your music a lot?

Hadji: 100% Obviously. It definitely does. Queens is a really cool place. I think growing up in New York, you’re exposed to a lot of things early. Not necessarily bad things, just independence. I’d take the train by myself when I was 13- going all over the five boroughs doing shit, which is super cool. Queens itself is super diverse. I grew up with, like, you know, tons of people like who were even just from two ethnicity households, like people who were Greek and Egyptian or like Filipino and Ecuadorian. There’s just big cultural exchanges happening all the time. Which I think, as a kid, I thought, ‘oh this is what the whole world was like’ and then I was like oh actually pretty unique. So that I really appreciated. And just the mixing of things, because when I make music, you know, I’m always trying to borrow from different genres and influences. It’s not the same thing but it’s analogous- and that’s always been a big inspiration. 

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