DJ and producer creating dark and ethereal melodic techno. Zaria's eclectic musical history and passion for melody give her a unique sound that is simultaneously dark and uplifting. Listen to this special 1-hour guestmix created by Zaria for BBBoiler and read more about the artist's inspirations and future plans.
About Zaria: I am originally from Novosibirsk, Russia - my family moved to the United States, California to be specific, in 1996. I spent most of my life on the West Coast of the US, living in California, Oregon, and recently Nevada. It’s been lovely to grow up here, but I would like to see the rest of the world and plan to move to Europe in the next year or two (depending on how the situation develops with the pandemic). Music has been a major part of my life from childhood and continues to become a more integral part of my life as I get more involved in the electronic music world.
Blanka Barbara: You had a very prolific 2020 year with 28 tracks released on 17 labels. Do you spend a lot of time producing music? Do you have a special ‘production routine’?
Zaria: I definitely spend a good majority of my free time producing music. I work a full-time day job, but I do find time everyday to produce. I aim to make 2-4 tracks every month all the way to mixing and completion. During the week, I dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes in the evenings to music, and if I’m lucky, I get to work on it for 2-3 hours. Weekday evenings are spent on things like sound design, mixing, generating ideas, and learning. Saturday is my rest day during which I try to do things that inspire me - going out into nature, relaxing, and reading are among my usual downtime activities. Sundays are dedicated to track arrangement and composition - I wake up and spend the whole day making a track from one of the ideas I made earlier in the week.
BB: When did you discover electronic music and why did you decide to produce dark ethereal melodic techno?
Z: I discovered electronic music in younger teenage years, and always enjoyed it, although I also ventured into various rock and metal music during my formative years. In my early 20s, I started learning to DJ as a hobby - production was a bit intimidating to me at first, but I always wanted to learn. When I discovered melodic and ethereal techno (primarily Steyoyoke and Afterlife at first) in 2018, I fell absolutely in love and knew this is what I wanted to do - that type of inspiration was enough to get me to start learning intensively. Something about the emotional aspect of dark melodic techno, and the way this style resonates with my classical upbringing, makes me feel very connected to it.
BB: Your background includes classical piano lessons and playing on other instruments. Do you see the impact of these skills on the way you make music?
Z: Absolutely. Growing up learning classical pieces on piano has caused me to have a certain ear and affinity for complex melodies, particularly those in a minor key. For this same reason, I was drawn to metal music with lots of guitar solos. Especially towards the beginning, the melodies in my productions would mimic those that were present in the piano pieces I used to play. I have spent quite a bit of time trying to experiment outside the box of classical training, try more unique sound design and sequencing, and making tracks that are less melodically structured or on the grid.
BB: You are a founder of Valkyria Records. How do you find managing your label so far and what are the plans for it?
Z: Having been a part of a few emerging labels and observed how they release music, it was a pretty smooth learning process to start the label. I’ve also been very fortunate to have the guidance of friends in the industry who also own labels, who kindly answered any questions I have. There is help all around, and people have been very supportive! Over the next couple years I want to become more specific with the label’s vibe and aesthetic, and hopefully start an event series someday when it is safe. All the strongest labels also have a family or community feeling to them, which would be great to create as well.
BB: Who would your dream collab be with?
Z: The first artist that comes to mind is Soel, from Oracolo and Afterlife. His music is just absolutely incredible - he has a cinematic and classical vibe that really inspires me.
BB: What hopes, dreams and goals do you have for 2021 and beyond?
Z: In 2021, I am hoping to release a few, quality EPs. I have a couple in the works already, with the goal of releasing 3-4 total not including miscellaneous remixes and singles. As for more long-term goals, it would be wonderful to be able to travel the world and share my music with people sometime in a few years, to do what I love while helping and inspiring others.
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