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Artists Asking Artists: Rinzen & Tara Brooks

Hometown heroes Rinzen and Tara Brooks interview each other ahead of their sets at Departure Festival
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On January 6-11, Pollen, The Brooklyn Mirage, and Cityfox present the very first edition of Departure, a destination festival taking place in Playa Del Carmen. The lineup features the top of the top artists in House and Techno. Two of the acts on the lineup are hometown heroes Rinzen and Tara Brooks, who have recently been in the studio together working on new music.

Ahead of the inaugural event, we had Rinzen and Tara sit and have a chat about all things ranging from their collab, playing a sunrise set, surfing, and much more. 

Departure Festival lineup 

Departure Festival lineup 

Rinzen: Hello, everybody, this is Rinzen. I'm here with Tara Brooks. We're in Venice, California in my studio, and we're going to do a little interview for each other. Tara, my first question for you is... I'm trying to think back to when we first met, and I don't actually remember. But I remember I first became aware of you from going to all these shows in Los Angeles and seeing your name on all these lineups for Lightning in a Bottle and Desert Hearts, and you were always around in the scene and someone I always saw playing everywhere. I knew we had similar tastes and music, and that we would get along well, but we never met. Then one day, we connected in the studio. So that's kind of how I first became aware of you mainly from the festival scene in the festival circuit and seeing you on all these lineups at parties that I was going to. How did you first hear about my project?

Tara Brooks: Okay, well, let's see, I would definitely say Desert Hearts. My memory is also foggy. But what I do remember is you playing after me at Desert Hearts. What year?

Rinzen: 2019

Tara Brooks: 2019. So before that, I always do my research; who's playing around me if I haven't heard their music or much about them, and everyone has said that you were one of the nicest people they'd ever met. You're kind and have the most beautiful energy, and your music — you're a phenomenal producer; you've produced remixes for Deadmau5, and gone on tour with him. You've also had Dubfire play some of your music, and you just released on Last Night On Earth, and also have done transitions. But as far as the musical connection, it's clear that our sounds have always complemented each other. So yeah, I think the first time we may be truly met was at Desert Hearts, and you were just so kind and your music was amazing.

Rinzen: Yeah, I appreciate that. Actually, that is the first time we met because I remember you were playing the 4-6 am slot, and you had this packed dance floor. And I was super nervous because I was like, well, Tara just crushed it… there’s this packed dance floor, and these people are hyped. And I'm always kind of nervous about the changeover between DJs. But from then on, we became friends, and we're working on music together now.

Tara Brooks: And let's not forget that timing, which I've played for them. After 6 am is not an easy time.

Rinzen: Yeah

Tara Brooks: Once it goes into the sunrise, the sun has come up, you know, that heavy energy that you're playing when it's dark, and into the light? It's definitely a really tough time. When they put you there, and trust me, because I've been there many times, it's because they know you can handle that transition and keep people there, which you do.

Rinzen: Actually, let's talk about sunrise or sunset sets really quickly. What's your approach to that moment? How do you construct those kinds of sets?

Tara Brooks: Well, I guess it depends on where we are, but again, since that four to six time is tricky, one of my favorite parts is when you're able to take that dark energy and then bring it into the light. So that's kind of a lot of who I am as far as my feelings about everything life and music. There's always that darker, edgy, trippy aspect mixed with that light and uplifting, soulful, emotional part. So I would say my approach really I guess first of all depends on where the crowd is. 

Because, you know, at Desert Hearts you're going on three days, or whatever, and people are in so many different spaces. And it doesn't even matter how good the music is — when something changes, the sun comes up or there’s just a shift, people may start to make moves. So it really just depends on where the people are, but I generally take that time to do my style sunrise, and I like techno for breakfast, but an ethereal acidy; a really trippy, uplifting but still delivering some energy, but just kind of introducing the day.

Rinzen by Michael Drummond

Rinzen by Michael Drummond

Rinzen: Yeah, I think you nailed it. Because I've been to so many sunrises, or sometimes they lean too much into the kind of conceptual or trippy or experimental side where they lose some of the crowd, and I know I wanted to do the opposite. I was like, I'm going to, like you said, play some techno for us. And I feel like it's kind of a nice surprise when people hear that and it's just the beginning of sunrise because they're like, oh, this is going to be a dark sunrise set, and there's something really exciting about that.

Tara Brooks: Yeah, and I absolutely love it as well because I think it's another thing to be stuck in this mental mindfuck of sunrises meant to be chill because you're bringing in the sun but why? At Burning Man, you know, if the music slows down, I think there's definitely some space for some of those beautiful, deep, interesting tracks that are going to really set the tone for the day. But I mean, it's my experience; most of the people in front of my stage, they need energy. And so there's no rule, or maybe there's this universal rule that people think to follow: I need to slow it down because it's the sunrise. But if anything, I think it's time to get the day going.

Rinzen: Yeah, I love that. What's inspiring you right now as an artist, creator, and DJ?

Tara Brooks: My first thought, since I've, as you know, spent the last year surfing, and kind of pushing my boundaries outside of music, which has definitely helped me in the studio and just kind of my mental, emotional state, so I would say the ocean and the vibe have taken it back to like reggae and W music I'm listening to on the way; stuff like Erykah Badu and Thievery Corporation. I've definitely just felt some of that urge to experiment more with my music with more trip-hop and stuff like that. But I've also found when I was doing a lot of hiking when things were really slow last year and just quiet, stuff like taiko has really also inspired me to start an album, which again is going to be a long process but I've just been really wanting to make all the sounds that I love that are outside of just dance floor stuff. 

So I felt really inspired to just kind of push myself in all the other sides of music that I haven't really dived into fully. So yeah, breakbeats and acid; all the stuff that I've always been a fan of, but I've never just fully dived into. So that's kind of where I am right now, is just pushing my boundaries and experimenting with things that are just outside — even electronica and ambient and stuff that is like Aleksi Perella. I don't know if you've heard of him, he's phenomenal. But just some really weird and out there stuff that's also extremely beautiful, and the whole timing of these tracks, like these 145 BPM tracks, it's just interesting to think, can this be played on a dance floor, and will people understand it, but also just finding such beauty in this music. So just really doing a lot of listening and digging and searching, and then bringing back that inspiration and trying to put it into my own stuff.

Rinzen: Yeah

Tara Brooks: And what about you? What's inspiring you at the moment?

Rinzen: Well, on the most basic level, I've been skateboarding every single day. That's been a newer thing for me. I realized that sometimes I get so single-track-minded and that I'm only focusing on music, and there's not really much else in my life other than music and my desire to make music and DJ. So I realized I needed some new hobbies, and I bought a skateboard. And I've been skateboarding every day, and honestly, that's been the best part of my day, every day.

Tara Brooks: Just wait until we go surfing. And I'm just getting a surfboard carver, which will help us surf, and we are going to skate and surf together.

Rinzen: Amazing, love it. And then musically, I feel like for the longest time I've been on this kind of neoclassical train of just listening to a lot of Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, and John Hopkins. But actually, I feel like I've been appreciating dance music again. I think maybe this is just because shows have been happening, and I've been really inspired by seeing videos of artists like Taylor vs Solomon playing to 5,000 people again, or 10,000 people. Seeing these tracks with the most incredibly beautiful breakdowns, and just these moments that are happening overseas, and I've been wanting to create some of those moments now, and create songs that can do that. So that's been pretty inspiring for me, just to see that that's happening in the world again.

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Tara Brooks: I would love to share that I personally think you do create tracks like that. You just haven't been exposed to some of those markets, or these guys have been doing it for a long time, and they're all set up and sorted in the right areas where they've made their name. So those bookings that you see, I mean, I feel like your tracks are doing the same thing, you just will get into those spaces here soon enough.

Rinzen: Yeah, I appreciate that. It’s more just igniting my desire to make more of those.

Tara Brooks: Yeah

Rinzen: I see those moments, and I'm like, ah yes, I'm getting ideas for what I would want to create. Well, so let's talk about the studio. We're working on some music together. How did that even start? How did we start working on music? And what are we making?

Tara Brooks: It's nice. It's been a minute since we've revisited the tracks, but I think it was one of the positives that came out of the pandemic; of going from touring every weekend and never having a second to breathe, and to change the routine to taking advantage of collaborating, and we live in the same city, which is awesome. And I think I've always been just really a fan of people that are genuine, and that care. And from my experience of being in the industry for quite some time now, it's not often that people always put themselves out there unless there's some sort of something that they want. It's never just for the love of it, or the fun of it, or, you know, what can I gain here and there. Unfortunately, that's been some of the experience, so I've been working by myself for many years. 

I have a great friend of mine that does my mastering and helped with the final mix, but musically, I've always done everything on my own with this pressure of women not doing things on their own from the very beginning. And whenever having this treatment, from the very beginning of how did you get this gig and all these things that were hurtful that I had to deal with, I think it just really pushed me into the solo field of work, making sure that I work and do everything on my own. And I learned in the last two years how important it is to collaborate, and just listening to my own music and not sharing it so much doesn't help me grow as fast as I could. So I think it just was perfect timing of us being home, and just really being strategic about how I can grow as an artist, and how I can also connect with people that I feel are on the same wavelength mentally, musically, and creatively. 

And I also know that your skills are phenomenal, so I thought it would be fun, and it's good to have a workflow that just feels kind and welcoming. And the first time we got in the studio, I was not surprised because I kind of believed it would be that way, but we really just flowed so well. And everything was open and respectful, and it was fun, and that's the most important thing is fun. And just working by yourself, like you said, for so long can just get a little monotone. So even when you're making something good, you're asking yourself, do I like this? So working with partners and collaborating is just really healthy, so I'm excited about that.

Tara Brooks

Tara Brooks

Rinzen: Yeah. I think I'm very selective about who I choose to work with because kind of like what you said, so much of it depends on the energy and the dynamic between you and the other person. And if that's not right, or that's off, then you're not going to be excited to work in the studio together. It'll kind of feel unnatural. But I knew from afar that our personalities would always be similar, and especially musically, that we were very much on the same wavelength, so I was always super down. And then when you hit me up, I was super excited about the idea. I feel like our first session we had together just was very magical and just went so well, and we kind of made a whole track in that one session.

Tara Brooks: Right?

Rinzen: Yeah, so that's been really cool. And now we're both playing Departure, which is the new festival happening for the first time in January in Playa Del Carmen from Pollen and Cityfox and the Brooklyn Mirage, and the lineup is absolutely insane — I feel like they got literally everyone. What are you excited about for Departure? What are you looking forward to about the festival?

Tara Brooks: Well, I'm excited. Like you said, the lineup is phenomenal. I love playing for the Brooklyn Mirage, it's always been amazing. And now Pollen, we have some dear friends working at Pollen, so I'm excited for this fabulous team coming together and seeing what they're going to do out there. But you know, I was playing BPM for many years. That's Playa — I was going there for many years, it has just been kind of a special place, unfortunately until those incidents. So it's a little interesting to see how everything's going to go, you know, but I think it's the fact they have such a phenomenal team, I think it's going to be amazing and I really don't know what to expect, but I'm totally open and I can't wait. But I just know that it's great to support the locals down there as well and bring them business so I think it's gonna be amazing all around. How are you feeling about it?

Rinzen: Yeah, I'm really excited. I mean, I've gone down as a fan to Mexico around the New Year before and done Day Zero and stuff, and did BPM once as well, and have experienced that just from the music enthusiast side. But now I feel like this year I get to go down as an artist and perform at this really insane event. And beyond that, I get to spend six or seven days there, which I'm also looking forward to because so many of my travel experiences lately, I'm in a city for 24 hours or less. And this I feel like I'll actually get to hang out and relax, and kind of enjoy the new year surrounded by a bunch of friends, and here's some incredible sets. I'm really excited.

Tara Brooks: I have to say, I actually, just thinking about it, I have so many memories — so many memories of when BPM was there, and just everyone coming from all over the world to be there. I've met so many great people, it's like a reunion. And yes, so many special parties. And you know, this was before everyone was going to do parties in Tulum, and it really was so special. So it's just the vibe out there, and the locals are so nice. I'm getting excited just thinking about it.

Rinzen: Yeah, same. Well, let's wrap up. What are you excited about in the near term? I know you're going to Miami this weekend.

Tara Brooks: Yeah

Rinzen: What are you most excited about right now?

Tara Brooks: I recently went to Rakastella, which is Innervisions & Life and Death — DJ Tennis and Dixon's beautiful festival I played two years ago, and it is so phenomenal. So that's going to be amazing, and I have two remixes that I'm waiting on the dates for release coming out on Bedrock. One of them for Randall Jones, Beautiful Thing, and the other is Apollo Vibes by Pole Folder, so both of them are extremely special to me. So those will be, I'm guessing, coming out early 2022. And I have a bunch of tracks in the pipeline that are pretty much finished, which is pretty good for me, I just need to put those finishing touches on it, so I'm excited to send those out. 

I'm building a team at the moment, so I'm excited about that as well. It's really an important time to vamp up the social media game and all the things that are extremely valuable today. So yeah, between that and then New Year's Eve, I'm going to be in Vegas and AREA15 for Playa Playground. Yeah, it's going to be a massive, massive event. New Year's Day is It's A New Day in San Francisco, which is also a massive, beautiful experience. So yeah, other than that, and Departure, and some Hawaii gigs and surfing, there'll be a lot of good stuff coming up. What about you, what do you have? What are you excited about coming soon?

Rinzen: I'm excited for a little bit of downtime before the new year, and then I just released my final track of the year with Fur Coat and his label, Oddity. It's called Symphony Number Four.

Tara Brooks: Awesome

Rinzen: And yeah, then I’m excited to ring in the New Year here in Los Angeles at Catch One, and then go to Mexico and see a bunch of friends and get to play Departure.

Tara Brooks: Awesome, that sounds amazing.

Rinzen: Yeah. All right. We did it.

For tickets, click here

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