Reza Safinia is a UK-raised, LA-based, multi-instrumentalist producer and composer whose work spans multiple genres ranging from electronic music to classical compositions for major film scores. He has worked with acclaimed artists such as Dr Dre and Kylie Minogue and scores the HBO Max show Warrior, as well as releasing his own music as an electronic artist and live performer/DJ.
After an eventful year including standout live sets for Robot Heart at Burning Man and the recent live performance stream for Mixmag, Safinia officially launched his Music and Texture Imprint with a stellar release, “Funkbible (Re-interpretation)”, in collaboration with German heavyweight producers, Super Flu, that garnered massive support from the likes of Pete Tong, Joris Voorn, Black Coffee and many more.
We had the pleasure of catching up with Reza this week to look back on an extraordinary breakout year in electronic music and to look forward to new releases and a hometown show in LA on July 6.
Thanks for joining us Reza! It’s been an action packed few months for you. What have been the highlights?
Thank YOU! Launching my Music and Texture label with the Super Flu release was definitely a high point… also I’ve been working on some new music that I just can’t wait to put out… I’m always buying new gear and geeking on learning it too!
WWD: Super Flu’s Re-Interpretation of ‘Funkbible’ has been so well received, garnering support from legends like Pete Tong and Joris Voorn. What was your reaction when you first heard their take on the track?
The whole journey with this track has been just incredible… Super Flu have always been one of my favorite producers, and I was over the moon when they said they wanted to work on Funkbible, and then to put it out and see that DJ’s like Pete and Joris get behind it is surreal. It’s also really inspiring when a big DJ like that takes a chance on a release from an up and coming artist just because they like the track.
WWD: Your livestream broadcast for Mixmag under the LA sunset was mesmerising. What inspired the choice of location and setting?
I went to a party at that location before the pandemic, and met the owner, he’s an absolute gem of a person and we became friends. The site is very unusual for being very verdant atop a hill that has 270 degree views of Los Angeles and epic downtown views. I felt like the juxtaposition of the DTLA urbanization next to the nature of the hilltop and the sunset view was a good metaphor for my Yin and Yang albums, so when it came time to perform for Mixmag, this was the spot that jumped at me!
WWD: What would you say are the toughest challenges when performing live?
There’s so much technical stuff that goes into pulling off a live performance with electronic gear, the biggest challenge is to stay on top of it all and remember to be a performer and have fun, not just to be technical. I record a real piano in a lot of my music, it’s a vintage Steinway and impossible to replicate with VSTs, so I ended up making my own Kontakt instrument version of it, which sounds almost identical to the real thing. But it’s very processor and RAM intensive, also in different songs I treat it differently with automation, so I have to make sure that’s all running smoothly and the keyboard is triggering the correct instrument when I switch between the piano and synths…There’s always some kind of surprise to deal with…
WWD: You’ve been lucky to live more than a few incredible experiences in the last year. Can you tell us a little bit about your Burning Man debut for Robot Heart?
Since my first burn it was a wild fantasy of mine to play on the bus and when it actually happened I couldn’t believe it and the feeling during the performance was like time standing still. Following on from the previous question, my computer almost melted in the heat, and minutes before going on, I had to put it in a cooler and run a video cable to an external monitor and a usb cable to an external hub to be able to do my set! Having to set that up under pressure in the heat put me in this state that’s very difficult to describe just before I went on. I was half thinking to myself I can’t believe I’m up here playing my music, and the other half of me is doing a checklist making sure everything is working and I’m not going to have a technical failure in the middle of my set, meanwhile I’m actually playing the keys and singing… it was too much to process at once so I just had to submit to the situation and go with the flow, and get in a flow state. The hour was up in what felt like seconds. At some point I felt like I left my body and came back to it for the final note! It was exhilarating.
WWD: 2021 saw the release of your 2 paired albums ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’. What did you learn from that process?
I made the albums during lockdown and released them as things were in different levels of opening up… the whole thing was a journey, I didn’t premeditate any of it, it was just a really our expression and artistic exploration if where I was at at the time. I learned a lot about classical music, studied some of my favorite composers and also learned a whole lot about synthesis and electronic production. Then through the process of releasing I learned about how to bring everything together under a creative vision to communicate to others, how to present it live, how to structure my vision going forward…
WWD: Where is your creative focus in 2022?
I’m working on a new album and some eps as well as focusing on live sets and dj sets…
WWD: Having established an impressive career in the music industry and having worked with a host of super talented artists ranging from Dr Dre to Britney Spears. Can you share 3 essential pieces of advice you give any emerging artist trying to make their way in the industry?
1. Be prepared to do anything you do as if nobody would ever pay you for it.
2. Find a way to support yourself financially so that you can be free to make the creative choices you want as though you were purely doing it as a hobby.
3. Be proactive in the social scene of the area you are interested in. Get to know what others like, geek out on your interests with others.. if you can do all of these and be patient then when your opportunity comes you can pursue it with some determination but until then focus on the craft and building relationships with others.
WWD: Next up is a hometown show with Underrated at Clinic in Los Angeles on July 06. What are you most looking forward to about that? .
After taking my set out on the road I’m really excited to perform in front of my LA people… I live here so there’s a special feeling here of connecting with my community. Also, I’ve attended Clinic many times to see others play and it’s a really cool feeling to be playing there.
Photo Credit: @darianzahediphoto
Follow Reza Safinia: