Insomniac’s Metronome series features mixes from some of today’s fastest-rising electronic stars, as well as championed legends. It takes listeners deep across a wide range of genres, movements, cultures, producers, artists and sounds that make up the diverse world of electronic music.
Artists have many different goals with their work. In this sphere of the electronic world, some want to have a party, some want to explore lush soundscapes, and others want to explode with big energy. But sometimes, a producer comes along with a larger vision for their art. Such is the case with L.A.’s very quickly rising talent Rinzen. He wants to create entire worlds through his music. Rinzen’s special blend of symphonic-minded techno is in its own dimension, sitting somewhere between cinematic score and fantasy landscape.
Setting things in motion in 2017, his ideas and execution have quickly gained a large following. Early and continued support came from deadmau5’s influential mau5trap label, which has put out a number of successful releases for said artist, including the notable Forbidden City, Exoplanet, and Prologue EPs. Beyond that, Rinzen has released music on London’s Chapter 24 and Berlin’s Steyoyoke, and he’s even put out a remix on Casablanca for the legendary Giorgio Moroder.
And the press has had no shortage of positive things to say. Mixmag has not only given the artist accolades, but they’ve included Rinzen in their Magnified series, an initiative that shines a light on select artists of lauded talent across the globe. Billboard called Rinzen’s Forbidden City EP “a sonic exploration of human depth.” Plus, a steady stream of positive press has come from all of the notable electronic outlets, such as Nest HQ and, of course, Insomniac.
This steep rise has helped Rinzen take stages everywhere from Berlin to Madrid, crafting otherworldly sets that lift attendees up and into the furthest reaches of space. With a scope that keeps growing, Rinzen is set to make his European festival debut at Creamfields, while Stateside, he seems particularly excited to announce a b2b set with Matt Lange at EDC Las Vegas next month.
With many more good things on the way, Rinzen today leaves us with a stellar mix. It features the kinds of imaginative and inspiring sounds he’s already become famous for.
You posted that playing EDC this year was a big honor for you, as it was your first festival experience back in 2010. What was that experience like, and what were some of the more impactful moments?
EDC [Los Angeles] 2010 was my first true electronic music experience. I still remember the feeling of walking into the festival for the first time; it was like stepping into an entirely new world. There was a certain magic and mystery to it that I found intensely alluring.
My most prominent memory from the night was seeing deadmau5. I worked my way through the crowd for over an hour and ended up sneaking into the VIP area [editor’s note: Don’t try this in Vegas!]. When deadmau5 began, I was literally the closest person to the stage. I remember turning around and seeing the entire Coliseum behind me. I’ll never forget that feeling.
You’ve also said that while obviously having a deep interest in electronic music, your background was in literature. What was that like?
Literature was my first love. Before I had any interest in music, I wanted to be a writer. I majored in English at Berkeley and essentially spent four years studying the world’s greatest authors.
Science fiction and fantasy also seem to play a big part in your productions. What are some of the works in those realms that have inspired where you are today?
I’m glad you asked! Neil Gaiman has been one of my chief influences in the fantasy realm, particularly American Gods and Anansi Boys. There’s something timeless about the way he incorporates mythology into modern storytelling.
For science fiction, Neil Stephenson’s Anathem is my recent favorite. It’s a behemoth 1,000 pages and some of the best worldbuilding I’ve encountered.
This has helped inspire your concept-leaning EPs. How would you describe the “story” you’re telling with your Prologue EP, as an example?
On the surface, Prologue is an ode to the literary canon—particularly epic poems like “Paradise Lost” and “The Canterbury Tales,” which often began with a prologue before diving into the main story.
Beyond that, however, the EP is a metaphor for my own journey as an artist. This is my beginning, my prologue. I wanted to commemorate this moment in time with an EP.
What is your production process like? How do you get started in the studio, and how do you build tracks from there?
I’m always trying to present something emotional and cinematic—some type of soundscape or atmosphere that you can get lost in. How I construct that environment is always different, though it’s typically a mixture of my Moog Sub37 synth and various orchestral sound libraries.
You seem to be a very grounded person. What does it feel like to have gained a large amount of success in a comparatively short amount of time?
I appreciate that! In the moment, it can be hard to recognize all that’s happening or how far you’ve come since you first started. I often feel stuck in emotional limbo. On the one hand, I have this restless desire to keep growing. On the other, I have to remind myself to be grateful for everything that’s already happening. I believe this duality is something all artists must learn to reconcile.
You’ve mentioned your failures as well as your successes. How many tracks did you have, or how long did you have to work on learning to produce, before you had something you felt was releasable?
I was about four years into producing before I released my first track. Even then, however, I hadn’t intended on releasing anything. It just happened to be a remix that got approved and released. Without it, I likely wouldn’t have launched my project for another six months or so.
It’s hard to say how many tracks I’d finished before that, but luckily, when it did come time to launch my project, I had a stockpile of material to send to labels like mau5trap.
Who are some other artists you’re into at the moment, and how do approach their music, as well as your own, when DJing?
Maceo Plex and Patrice Bäumel are two of my biggest inspirations. I’m constantly working their music into my sets.
Aside from that, there’s a whole wave of melodic, deep, techno-leaning music from artists like Mind Against, Aether, and Feral that I’m obsessed with. The hard part is finding the right situations where I can play that music, as it’s quite minimal and delicate stuff.
You also have a scope for your live shows as large as that of your music. How far along are you in your process of actualizing this vision of a live show?
The live show is the pinnacle of my vision for Rinzen. It’s where everything comes together. It’s where my penchant for worldbuilding and cinematic sound design will come to life in the form of real, immersive environments. It’s something I don’t want to rush, so I’m still in the early phases. I’m focused now on making the vision as specific and particular as possible and learning the necessary skills to pull it off.
You’ve already got an exciting year lined up. What are some other big things you can mention that fans might not know about yet?
I’m working on three remixes at the moment, which is crazy. Two are essentially done, and the third is still in the works. I’m excited because each one is a completely different style. It’s all aspects of my sound. These will all be coming out in the next few months. Beyond that, I have a release coming up on Yoshitoshi in a couple weeks with my buddy Enamour. I’m also writing an EP with my friends Marbs and Evan Casey of Desert Hearts—more on that soon.
Anything else you’d care to plug or mention?
I appreciate you taking the time to interview me, and anyone reading this who may be encountering my project for the first time… I believe in sharing as much of my process as possible. I strive to be honest in my communication and give an authentic portrayal of the artistic journey.
- Rinzen’s ‘Metronome’ Mix Track List
Jan Blomqvist “The Space in Between” (Ben Böhmer Extended Remix)
Avidus “Revenge of the Whales” (Avidus Crosstown Rework)
Maceo Plex “Conjure Superstar”
Enamour, Rinzen “Quark”
Fatima Yamaha “What’s a Girl to Do” (Capulet Re-edit)
Monkey Safari “Epilogue” (Guy J Remix)
Locked Groove “Oscillate”
Adana Twins “Pavan”
Carlo Ruetz “Until the End”
Hans Zimmer “Interstellar” (Gabriel Ananda Edit)