These days, when Shavo Odadjian isn’t playing bass in one of the biggest heavy metal acts of his generation, he’s hunting down elite genetics for his three-year-old cannabis brand 22Red.

We caught up with The System of a Down bassist at Hall of Flowers Palm Springs to talk about the brand’s evolution. Originally starting with shelf space in three dispensaries, 22Red now is available in three states. Odadjian particularly was excited about the forthcoming genetics lineup for 22Red’s California operation. 

When it comes to cannabis brands associated with a person of note, genetics is where you start to get to the real nitty-gritty. It’s the fastest way to tell one of two things, whether they’re white labeling or just how involved the person of note affiliated with the brand is on the cultivation side. 

Odadjian did better than most explaining how he found his way to the genetics 22Red is working with. 

“I have a lot of friends who run seeds and I have a lot of good people that grow,” Odadjian told L.A. Weekly. “So I always take from here and give to this, and we try things out. And when new things pop and I love them. It takes years, you know.”

Not long after helping found 22Red, it was quickly apparent to Odadjian that having their own flavors would be critical moving forward. 22Red started hunting for keepers. It’s taken years, but they’re ready to hit shelves. 

“Some of the seeds came from Seattle,” Odadjian said. We popped those, and those were just amazing a couple of years ago. So we’re getting the fruits now, and there’s a few that I really love.”

Odadjian went into the terpene profiles he enjoys, he said it’s all a matter of the time of day. He considers himself a connoisseur. The bulk of the time, it’s sativa-leaning hybrids so he can be functional throughout the day. After 10 p.m., he’ll start busting out the heavy indicas. 

We asked Odadjian if it was cool to have the weed to fall back on since he couldn’t tour during the pandemic? He replied it’s been great, but he’s plenty busy. 

“I just started a solo record row. I’ve been working with someone and I’ll reveal it later. But I’m just writing a lot of heavy music again. All the side projects I’ve done have been Hip Hop based. This is not. This is crazy, like what you would expect me to bring into system music.”

Photo: Jimi Devine

So far, the solo project is falling into place. Odadjian has had a blast recording and arranging what he has so far. Now he’s going to pull together an array of vocalists he’s known for years, to help on the tracks. 

“I can handpick people I want that I’ve known for years and years, and made friends with to do certain tracks and have my dream record of dream tracks,” Odadjian said. “And be the writer of all the music. That’s going to come in the next year.”

Odadjian’s other side project North Kingsley also wrote an album over the pandemic. It’s in the finishing touches, with vocals being mixed right now. 

Our final subject of conversation with Odadjian was the political apathy of the 2000s. We asked if he thought the kids being introduced today could appreciate System of a Down in an even deeper way than the first generation that heard it. 

“It’s uncanny,” Odadjian replied. “That whole woke movement, that I don’t know. I have differing thoughts about it because I think there’s too woke. And then there’s actually asking questions and knowing where your rights stand for sure. But I’m not crazy about what’s really happening on both sides of everything. Both sides are insane. Right. So I kind of think they do, but sometimes they get misinterpreted.”

Odadjian also noted that since the early days, when people asked SOAD to explain their songs, “we always said it’s open to interpretation. It’s what you want it to be.” 

LA Weekly