In those first weeks of January, when the sun is out and you’re in between Tanglewood and Rainbow, life is good.

My mate Marcus introduced me to Nawaf at a Culture Jam Stacks On party in 2017, as we were walking through the inner-city playground – my first time at CERES park.

He smiled broadly and instantly went in for a hug and we met like long-lost friends.
Over the years, we’d meet many more times, always with a warm embrace underscored by the deliberateness of a man on a mission.

To meet Nawaf at an event is to meet a man in his element. Always on the go, with a million things to get done and a singular focus – the show must be flawless; the experience beyond surreal.

Whether he is rocking up to the stage an hour early for his set to read the vibe on the floor, or getting the scene set for the opening ceremony performances or managing the intricacies of setting up a six-piece band just in time for a sunset start, he is everywhere and in control.

His sets as Shantaraam evoke a tribal response – swirling bodies heaving in unison as though healing an ancestral lineage as a gritty bassline drives through the earth. While in the midst of this dynamic dancefloor, should you manage a moment to turn your eyes to decks, he dances with you, one with the crowd, relishing every movement.

His music as Tauren stands in contrast, but without contradiction to Shantaraam. A more pulsating four-to-the-floor vibe, more lush and thought provoking, more meditative in a full body way. Still deep, still dark and still a caress from another dimension.

Today I had a chance to engage in an unhurried conversation albeit with a time limit, of a father taking his daughter for an outing.

We spoke about his origin story and making his way from Bahrain to Melbourne, his entry into the doof scene and the Big Shebangabang party. I uncovered his philanthropic nature as we explored the humanitarian aid parties and chance meetings which inspired the birth of Yemaya Festival. We discussed parenting and careers, mental struggles and conscious dance events, a secret desire for a food truck and organising his own doof wedding.

We had a mad chat and this is his story.

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