Our conductor for episode 126 of the When We Dip Mix Series is one of the most interesting DJ and producers coming out of the American West Coast scene in the past couple of years: Rinzen! In this set of over an hour, he takes us with him on his journey at the crossroads of progressive and melodic techno. He also had the generosity of answering our questions regarding his proclivity towards longer club sets, his upcoming collaborative EP with Enamour, and the will to steadily reinvent himself as an artist. Enjoy!
WWD: Hi Rinzen! First, thank you for being part of our Mix Series! How have you been lately?
Hello! Yes, thank you for having me, I’m honored to be part of the series. I’ve been doing well. Fortunately things over here in the US have opened up quite considerably and I’ve been able to tour pretty heavily the last couple of months.
WWD: It really does seem like you’re coming off this pandemic swinging! Earlier this month, on August 7th, you headlined your first extended set in LA with a marathon set of over 5 hours. How was that?
That was so damn special. I grew up in LA and credit the city for getting me into electronic music in the first place. I’ve always had a vision of playing a headline set in a big warehouse here, and doing an extended performance into the early morning hours. That’s exactly what we made happen earlier this month. It felt like the exact LA performance I’ve been wanting to have ever since I started DJing.
WWD: Leading up to the event, you were talking loads about the musical freedom that those longer sets grant you, which is kind of going against the actual trends of two, or even only one hour sets being programmed. Do you feel that’s still something a big crowd can still be receptive to?
Yes, I believe there’s a growing audience for these longer-form performances. I think crowds are more patient and mature than we give them credit for, and are more often than not yearning for these kinds of deeper, journey-like listening experiences.
WWD: Along the same lines, you’ve been adamant about creating a sound that’s, to use your own words, at the intersection of techno and progressive. How do you create that meeting point when times come to jam in the studio?
I once heard someone say “House is a feeling, techno is a landscape.” I believe my music, or at the least intention behind it, to be the overlapping of these two concepts. I want my music to feel like a landscape or environment you can step into, while having real, palpable emotions to it. In the studio, this isn’t so much a conscious decision as something that arises naturally. The sounds I choose, the samples I pick, the grooves I construct, all of these things are subconscious decisions that create the balance between these two worlds.
WWD: A label that embodies that sound extremely well is Sasha’s Last Night on Earth, on which you’ll release your debut EP in collaboration with Enamour on October 1st. How did the joint effort come about? Should we expect something reminiscent of ‘Quark’, the track you guys did together in 2019?
Enamour is a good friend of mine and one of my main collaborators. Whenever he travels through LA, we do our best to hop in the studio and see what comes out. Our new EP is the result of a couple such visits. When we work together, we’re always trying to push the envelope a bit and get experimental while still retaining a coherent melodic structure. Something I believe we achieved both on the new EP and our previous collaboration, “Quark”.
WWD: In the past, you’ve talked quite extensively about your desire to create music that has conceptual meaning on top of functioning as a standalone piece of art. How do you see yourself exploring that area in the future?
That’s exactly right. In the future, I’d love to have each song be accompanied by a distinct visual piece of art that can exist both in the physical and digital realms. And ideally, some sort of story or anecdote attached to it as well. In the short term, I’m working with a few NFT artists on a couple such projects.
WWD: I guess this also ties into what you were saying was one of your biggest fears: Being pigeon-holed, stuck into one particular musical lane. How do you balance that concern with creating something that is coherent? If you were to describe with a mere couple words what you want to achieve, what would it be?
I remember watching Charlie Rose’s interview with Jim Carrey, and Carrey saying how the minute you’ve got him figured out, he’s going the opposite way. Sometimes I feel like that as well. I never want to be too easy to pin down. Too easily defined.
I don’t worry too much about if my discography is coherent, or linear, because in the end, it’s all from me. It’s all from the same mind, the same brain. And try as I might to make something wildly different, it always still ends up sounding like me.
Ultimately, what I want to achieve is an experience of awe. Or put another way, a connection with the sublime. The moment on a dancefloor (or in your headphones) when you experience a profound connection with the world around you.
WWD: We’re glad to have you on the decks for WWD126! What can you tell us about the set you’ve got for us today?
I structured the mix much like I would a longer set. Meaning it starts a bit deeper and melodic, then gets a bit heavier and more intense, eventually reaches a transcendent climax, and then ultimately winds down with a lighter, more emotional send-off. I hope you enjoy the journey.
WWD: Thank you again for your time Rinzen! Anything exciting coming up in the coming months?
Thank you kindly for having me. I’ll be on tour in the US the rest of the year. I’m particularly excited about a couple festivals like Electric Zoo and Seismic Dance Festival, as well as returning to some of my favorite cities like San Francisco, New York, and Miami. See you on the road!