Two influential music figures — activist and artist Tamar Kaprelian and hit producer Alex Salibian (Harry Styles, the Head and the Heart, Young the Giant) — are pooling resources, talent and investments in launching Nvak Collective, a socially driven talent incubator and record label whose mission is to create safe ecosystems for women, non-binary and LGBTQ+ musicians and artists with an emphasis on underrepresented regions like the Middle East, West Asia, and North and East Africa.
The label’s first releases come from the U.S. and Armenia; Chaz Cardigan will drop “We Look So Good” on Sept. 17, and Rosa Linn and Kiiara’s “KING” is out 9/10.
NVAK’s artist development is rooted in education and needed services beyond the creative including health and dental care, mental health services and financial management.
Kaprelian and Salibian met through Grammy-winning producer Jeff Bhasker (Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars, Kanye West). At the time, Kaprelian was four years into running Nvak Foundation, a nonprofit educating young women and non-binary musicians in underserved markets. They saw in each other a shared vision for the record label of the future.
Says Salibian: “The traditional record label’s customer is the public: a notoriously volatile and unpredictable customer segment. When the public goes left; the record label has to go left. When the public goes right; so does the record label — and they do so leaving artists in their wake. Nvak Collective’s customer is the artist, and we find better ways to serve their needs. Our job is to create a transparent, safe ecosystem that promotes the longevity of their careers, allowing them to share their true vision with their customer — the public. We believe this will ultimately deliver higher quality and more diverse music.”
Kaprelian’s experience includes having been signed to a major label. “From the ages of 18 to 24, I saw firsthand how unsafe the music business is and that no one is doing anything about it,” she says. “I was one of those unfortunate statistics; I was put into many rooms with predatory producers and executives; many of whom are still making records today. Those experiences shaped the way that I approach the work we’re doing now. Nvak Collective aims to create a system that prioritizes an artist’s mental, emotional, and physical health so that artists are able to have long-term, sustainable careers in this industry.”
“We believe that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not,” adds Salibian. “When Tamar expanded her nonprofit pre-pandemic from Armenia to Israel and Malawi, she was working in communities that did not provide young artists with the infrastructure necessary in order to grow. She had fallen in love with the diverse music community in Israel; and also found funding via the State Department and Madonna’s foundation, Raising Malawi, to expand to Malawi. It made sense to draw from the talent in these regions that were raising their hands saying ‘I want a career in music.'”
Nvak’s health-first approach extends to its A&R style, which Kaprelian describes as “holistic and collaborative.” The label is focusing on a trio of regions: West Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. “We take a hyper-localized approach to the work that we do,” adds Kaprelian, who also launched an educational initiative called Song Start with hitmaker Ali Tamposi. “We never copy-paste our strategy because each place has its own set of unique needs. With the help of Song Start, our digital music education arm which launches this Fall in collaboration with Spotify, we aim to teach and develop more talent in many more countries in the upcoming years.”
See below for Nvak’s initial roster:
Rosa Linn: A 21-year-old pop musician, songwriter and producer from Vanadzor, Armenia, Rosa began playing the piano at age six. “KING” with Kiiara is out 9/10.
Chaz Cardigan: A native of Kentucky, Chaz embraced his queerness to find his voice as a storyteller. He releases “We Look So Good” on Sept. 17.
Annika Rose: Raised on Stevie Nicks and Alanis Morissette, the 19-year-old singer-songwriter releases “Fuck You (Internet Girl Remix)” on Sept. 24.
Talia Lahoud: Performing and writing in English, Arabic, and French out of Beirut, Lebanon, the 19-year-old classical guitarist covers Chris Isaak’s classic “Wicked Game” on Oct. 1.