Teaching to his own beat
By Sarah Rossi, Marketing and Communications
Lauren Hill. Nas. Trey Songz. Douglas College.
It may seem like the last one doesn’t fit in with the names of hip-hop royalty, but all four can be found on Music Technology instructor Kayvon Sarfehjooy’s extensive resumé.
The music industry vet – who has been producing for 15 years and DJ’ing for even longer – worked with Hill for two years, doing sound design for her live shows, as well as producing songs for Nas, Lil’ Wayne and Trey Songz.
Hip-hop, Kayvon says, is the root of his passion for music.
“I really got into hip-hop from breakdancing. I was a pretty good breakdancer in the second grade,” he says. At that time in the 80s, breakdancing went mainstream, to the point that it even died out for a while because it was so heavily exploited by corporations. But I stuck with the music. Hip-hop was always around me. I could relate to it and I was really drawn to it.”
Kayvon’s mother was a professional piano player and taught music. He played the trumpet and listened to jazz growing up, before making the transition to hip-hop. From there, he began to create his own music, spurring a move to New York in 2004 to grow his career as a producer with his musical partner, Beatnik, a multi-instrumentalist and a producer/audio engineer.
“We didn’t have a lot of money, and we just did it. It was tough at first, but things started happening, and we actually signed a pretty big six-figure record deal. That set it all off,” he recalls.
While Kayvon did not achieve the level of success he was hoping for, he still received money for his work and gained relationships that would carry him throughout his career.
Finally, in 2016, he made another move, to Vancouver, to teach at Douglas College. He also teaches at the prestigious Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University and the Institute of Audio Research.
The secret to success in the music world, he says, is hard work and motivation – no matter what you’re doing. While he is still teaching and mentoring students, Kayvon continues to work on his own music.
“I just make sure to keep it moving and keep working on projects. If you want your music to be heard by people, and to know that you made an impact, you have to step it up,” he says.