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Shavo Odadjian | 22 Red | Interview

Do you like Chop Suey? I don’t think I personally know a single person who doesn’t, and no I don’t mean the food because honestly, I don’t think I have ever even tried the dish. What I’m talking about is the 2001 heavy metal hit from System Of A Down. Chop Suey is known as their signature song and to this day 20 years later it is still loved by many and although they have not put out a full-length record together since 2005, as individuals they still have had plenty of cool stuff going on. Especially their bassist, backing vocalist and occasional songwriter Shavo Odadjian.

Shavo is not only a bassist for System but also a music video director and editor, music producer and well-known DJ in the Los Angeles area as well as a human rights activist. Shavo made a short cameo in the 2001 film Zoolander and also teamed up with The RZA of The Wu-Tang clan to form a supergroup named AcHoZeN. This group formed by Shavo and The RZA along with Killarmy member Kinetic 9 and Wu-Tang Clan affiliates Reverend William Burke contributed several songs to the motion picture Babylon A.D. starring Vin Diesel. Sure this may all sound like stuff a talented musician from a Grammy Award winning band may be up to (along with smoking a ton of weed) but something you may not know about this talented artist is his business outside of the music and entertainment industry.

Shavo Odadjian is not only an amazing artist and cannabis consumer, but finds himself a connoisseur when it comes to good ole Maryjane. So much so that he created his own premium lifestyle brand that is focused on cannabis, fashion, music and wellness named 22Red. Although newer to the AZ market seems to be one of the top brands in terms of quality. I can speak from experience when talking about the quality of their products because I have had the pleasure of consuming quite a few strains from this company which by far my favorite has been the Red Wedding which was a popcorn quarter I got for a really good price from SWC dispensary in Tempe, AZ. So, you may be thinking to yourself, “oh, this is just another brand by some celebrity that calls himself a connoisseur and is just in it for the money” – but let me assure you this is not the case with 22Red.

Shavo Odadjian

Having the honor of speaking with this amazing artist about his life, career and love for cannabis and what led him to owning his own cannabis lifestyle brand I can tell you that this man is a true cannabis connoisseur who is truly passionate about improving the daily lives of others through cannabis and art. It’s kind of funny when we think back to how we started using cannabis, especially so many years back when times were so different. I know I was young when I started, probably a lot younger than I should have been. Now that I think of it, the first time I tried cannabis was the same year Chop Suey was released and I tried it with my brother and our friend Walter who was a fan of System Of A Down and who introduced me to their Toxicity album. But anyway, after my first experience with cannabis, I went home and got in huge trouble for smelling like weed. My grandmother, who raised me, absolutely hated cannabis and considered it a bad drug.

It’s funny because Shavo said the same thing about his family. His mother thought of cannabis as a drug like cocaine and heroin, and its use would not be tolerated. Of course we all know now cannabis is not bad and has many medicinal benefits. Shavo being close with his family respected his mother and didn’t consume cannabis. It really wasn’t til about his 20s when Shavo began to smoke cannabis but, once he started, he never stopped. He didn’t just smoke to get high, he enjoyed the different flavors and scents and how different types could make you feel different effects but it really wasn’t until System was touring through Europe and stopped in the Original Cannabis capital of the world, Amsterdam, that Shavo became a true connoisseur.

When traveling through Europe in places like Amsterdam where cannabis was already legal, tourists and locals could go into coffee shops where cannabis products could be purchased and consumed. This is what Shavo would normally do, but one of his friends who had just done some filming in Amsterdam referred him to a guy that could get “the best weed in Amsterdam”. Insisting that Shavo get in contact with this man who would get “what the locals smoke” and not “tourist weed.” Upon Shavo’s arrival to Amsterdam, around 5am, he went ahead and gave this guy a call. The man answered, confused, asking who Shavo was, so Shavo explained they were in a band traveling and were in need of some cannabis and apologized for calling so early. The guy on the phone was polite and told Shavo that it was really early that he was going to go back to sleep and instructed Shavo to give him a call around 9:30am to get things situated. So Shavo went ahead and waited until the instructed time and gave this man a call back.

Shavo Odadjian

The man that Shavo called must have looked up the information Shavo gave him about who they were and why they were traveling through Europe and was excited and amped when Shavo called him back. This guy told Shavo to come though his shop, that he would get him taken care of no problem and asked where Shavo was staying while in Amsterdam. Coincidentally, the shop this man owned was attached to the Hotel that System Of A Down was in. The name of the shop was The Green House. This absolutely was the place to be in Amsterdam as this was not only a coffee shop but a brand that was well known for breeding some of the finest genetics such as The Super Lemon Haze.

The man Shavo had spoken to was none other than cannabis entrepreneur and founder of Green House coffeeshops and Green House Seed Company Arjan Roskam. When Shavo first called, he didn’t know he was speaking with “The King of Cannabis” and creator of strains such as White Widow, Super Silver Haze, Super Lemon Haze and many many more. So after Shavo got off the phone and went downstairs, around the corner, walks into the coffeeshop to find plaques with celebrities such as Eminem and Xzibit- he knew he was in the right place. Entering the shop, he was greeted with hospitality that was through the roof and immediately handed two ounces of their dankest buds. Shavo was appreciative and thanked Arjan and his workers but asked if they could maybe take that back and give him a little bit of everything.

Arjan asked Shavo what he meant, so Shavo explained to him that back home in the states there wasn’t access to cannabis like this. You couldn’t walk into a shop and have access to a menu like we are able to do in today’s dispensaries. Arjan complied with the request and was actually excited about it because he understood as a connoisseur what it was like to experience different flavors and effects each strain had to offer. So after going back and getting samples of each strain for Shavo, they told him to go ahead and keep the two ounces as well as all the samples they gave him. So with about 25 single grams and two ounces he made his way back to his hotel to indulge in these new flavors.

After having a field day smoking all these new strains, he received a call from Arjan asking how long System would be in Amsterdam because High Times was having their annual Cannabis Cup that week and were going to hold the “Green House Strain Hunters Hardest Smoking” taste testing on Sunday, where they would be testing 25 new strains and would love System to join them. Shavo informed Arjan their final show was Friday and would be hitting the road after that. So Arjan being The King of Cannabis pushed the event to Thursday just so System of a Down could join in on the fun. When Shavo and the guys from system arrived for this tasting, they were seated at a dinner table with bowls full of weed and the tasting began. After sitting at this table from 3 P.M. to 1 A.M. smoking non stop with top cannabis breeders and shop owners, Arjan’s wife informed him maybe it was getting a little late that maybe the guys had to go. So they handed Shavo and the guys from System Tupperware that they loaded up with all the weed still left on the table, hid the Tupperware with the gear, and hit the road after Friday’s show.

Shavo Odadjian

That experience and meeting Arjan is what Shavo says turned him into the connoisseur he is today. But I mean, come on, let’s get real. Anyone who smokes that many strains for that long with the great minds that created them would probably turn any regular smoker into a connoisseur especially back in the late 90s and early 2000s. In California at that time, only medical marijuana was legal and although approached by many people and companies who thought Shavo should have his own brand or strain, he just politely denied saying he was just a smoker and did not want to have his name attached to a product he really had no control of. Although the thought did cross his mind and did discuss the topic with friends he was also still very busy with System Of A Down and just didn’t have the time.

When recreational cannabis became legal in California and with down time from recording with System, Shavo saw this as the right time and opportunity to build something he always wanted to. So after being reintroduced to a grower through a long time mutual friend and connecting with a branding company, 22Red was created. Since Shavo is a connoisseur and treats cannabis like fine wine, he only smokes the best and always wants to represent quality. Shavo is not just a celebrity looking for a fast buck and did not just want to slap his name on a product just to get it to sell. He wanted to create something people would love and want to wear and smoke,

So with Shavo not naming the brand after himself or his band or really anything that anyone would know and say “Hey this is Shavos brand” he decided to name his brand after the number that he always seems to have some type connection to, the number 22. Shavo was born April 22nd, married May 22nd, he was 22 when System got signed which was 22 years before he thought of 22Red at age 44. He also recently realized that his two sons are born 2 years and 22 days apart. I mean come on that is a little crazy but I have the same thing with the number 26 it just has always seemed to follow me through my entire life. So obviously the number 22 has been an important and positive number in this great artist’s life.

Shavo also has a condition named synesthesia. Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which information meant to stimulate one of your senses stimulates several of your senses. So, if you ever heard the expression “see sounds and hear colors” – well that’s basically what this is. For example, when eating you may not be able to help but notice the geometrical shape of the food or when you hear music you may see shapes or colors or a kaleidoscope of both. In Shavo’s case, his brain automatically sees numbers as colors. One is white, three is yellow, and two has always been red, so with the significance the number 22 plays in his life and how he sees that number his lifestyle brand is named 22Red.

With Shavo waiting until recreational cannabis became legal in CA, by the time 22Red got started it was 2018. In just the three years 22Red has been alive, they have been able to enter the Arizona and Nevada legal cannabis markets as well as their home state of California. Three states in just three years seems like a good sign to me, and as I said from my experience everything here in Arizona has been top notch just as Shavo has promised, nothing but quality products. So far, 22Red has released cannabis flower, pre-rolls and vape cartridges, although I have only seen flowers and pre-rolls on the AZ market. Shavo reassured me that vapes would be coming to the AZ market very soon and concentrates will also be available very soon in all three states. Of course, just like the rest of his business, Shavo wants to make sure his concentrates are nothing but the best and told me the wait would be over soon as he took a dab of some Red Wedding.

When 22Red decided to expand its footprint into the Arizona market, finding a cultivator that shared its same values was of paramount importance. “Through our amazing Phoenix-based distributor, we discovered Sonoran Roots, whose reputation for exceptional flower is known throughout the state.” Our customers have come to expect a certain quality of cannabis, and we felt confident from the beginning of our relationship that Sonoran would be able to deliver the same quality throughout Arizona,” said Odadjian.

Shavo Odadjian

Because of federal regulations and it being unlawful to transfer clones over state lines, it was vital Shavo took the steps necessary to ensure his genetics would still be available in the states he was expanding to. Since plants from seeds can be a bit tricky as you may not know what to expect and still have to pheno hunt for the best plant of the batch, then go ahead and make that a mother plant so the desired characteristics are then carried on through the clones taken from that mother for all future crops. Since this is more of a process and Shavo still wants to ensure quality, currently only six strains are available.

Shred 22 is their skunky and gassy 90/10 sativa dominant hybrid. Nightfall, although a 50/50 hybrid, is a heavy hitting minty pine strain best suited for evening use. Grateful Red is a well balanced hybrid with a nice earthy, herbal spice and sweet berry profile. L.A. Punk Cake is a sweet berry, citrus and grape, extremely potent and flavorful indica dominant hybrid that relaxes the mind but stimulates the body. Red Wedding is another indica dominant hybrid that provides sweet pastry aromas with slightly fruit flavor with notes of cherry and GSC – this strain is my personal favorite. The last strain available here in the State of Arizona is their Sonoran Sunset. This strain is a descendant of OG Kush, Cherry Pie and Durban Poison and produces some beautiful large purple sticky resinous buds that smell like a skunky jelly filled pastry with deeply relaxing effects. I have had the pleasure of trying each strain and I definitely recommend you do the same.

So with us speaking about Shavos life, career and his journey to becoming a cannabis curator, I asked Shavo a few final questions. The first was what was his main method of consumption. I asked this because he did take a couple dabs during the interview. Although he told me he does enjoy his concentrates, he is definitely more of a flower consumer. Shavo said if you take too many dabs, it can be hard to function and he doesn’t like that. I also asked since it had been so long, is he still making music with System or even solo projects. Shavo told me System actually released 2 new songs recently at the end of 2020.

The two songs are “Protect The Land” and “Genocidal Humanoidz” and were made to draw attention to the crisis in their ancestral homeland of Armenia and the conflict Azerbaijan started with Armenia. All proceeds from the two songs went to the “Armenia Fund” which provides humanitarian relief to the region. Shavo also informed me of his newer group called “North Kingsley” that blends rap, trap, rock, and metal but with a modern edge that’s named after the street he grew up on after his family moved to Hollywood. If you are a fan of System and Fan of Wu-Tang Clan as well as enjoy some rock and trap, then I recommend you give this group a listen. So far, their only project has six songs but there are more in the works and Shavo really plans on letting loose once live performances are back to normal.

So with all this that I learned and shared with you from my conversation with this amazing artist, curator and Grammy award winning bassist, I hope you at the very least stop by your local dispensary and ask for some 22Red. As I said in the beginning, Shavo genuinely cares about cannabis and providing wellness through his brand. Everything you smoke from 22Red is what Shavo himself would smoke, and although he lives in CA, he still tests all the AZ strains to ensure the highest level of quality. This man is an amazing artist and a family man living a dream after living a dream. I can’t even imagine what life on tour back then was like and now he’s a curator of something he is truly passionate about. Life truly is great. It was an absolute honor to speak with the man Shavo Odadjian himself and learn so much about a man who helped create music that I used to ride my skateboard and bang my head to. Hell, I still headbang to System, now it’s just riding in the car, not on a deck and since showing me North Kingsley and Achozen lately, I’ve been playing those two groups as well. I highly, highly recommend you check out Shavo’s new projects as well as his lifestyle brand 22Red. Whether it’s through fashion or cannabis, please show some support and if your local dispensary doesn’t carry 22Red, tell them the folks over at The Cannabis Cactus highly recommend they do!



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