The Mixtape Vol. 175

With influences ranging from Grimes to Ivy Lab to Portishead, Tzara is challenging the production boys-club one DIY project at a time

Challenging the production boys-club one DIY project at a time – TZARA's sound is like nothing you've heard. With influences ranging from Grimes to Ivy Lab to Portishead, she meanders somewhere between experimental electronica, glitch hop, and dark dream pop. TZARA's sound is easy to fall in love with and hard to describe – everything is entirely self-written, recorded and produced.

Despite only starting to perform her own music live in 2017, TZARA is already making her mark on South Africa's music scene. Apart from playing at all the usual local hangouts (Yours Truly, Fiction, Waiting Room) she has also opened for Samiyam (Brainfeeder/Stones Throw), won Uppercut's "Button Bashers" beat battle and played at Cape Town Electronic Music Festival (CTEMF) all within a year.

TZARA is also a co-founder of "Stone Soup" – a collective helping to get young producers out of the bedroom and into the public eye. Find out a little bit more about TZARA after the jump.

What's your sound story?

I feel like my sound is as multifaceted as my personal history. Trying to describe it is like trying to capture a person's consciousness in a paragraph. It definitely draws on every part of my lived experience both musically (from my classical training to playing in a wind band to a love for computers and electronic music) and personally (my awe, my fears, my mania, my incorrigible curiosity).

What inspired your name?

I came up with it when I was about 15. I wanted to sound cool and edgy so I just took my legal name and put a "z" in it. Later on, as I started taking my craft more seriously, I happened upon Dadaism and Tristan Tzara and thought, "eh, it still works." A lot of my work has a surrealistic and avant-garde element to it – so it stuck.

First album you've owned?

Oh wow… The first album I bought myself was probably something emo. It was either Evanescence's Fallen or the DVD of My Chemical Romance's last performance of The Black Parade. I liked really dramatic things at that age.

What did you grow up listening to and what are you into nowadays?

I grew up listening to a variety of things. My sister and I knew every Beatles song back to front. My dad used to play the Gypsy Kings in the studio while he painted. My mum had a CD of whale noises over new-age instrumentals. Also, a lot of folk music from around the world. As soon as I became a teenager I went full emo. (Think: Listening to System Of A Down in my candle-lit bedroom writing shit poetry and dabbling in magic). These days I am open to everything. I make a point of dedicating every Sunday to music listening (I can't exactly listen while I produce – which I find sad).

Who are your currently faves?

Ambient or jazzy cinematic/electronic: Akira Kosemura, Gidge, Ryo Fukui, Four Tet... Female artists like: Lava La Rue, Clairo, Princess Nokia, Kilo Kish...

Something soulful for the lazy winter sunshine: Kali Uchis, Gabriel Garzon-Montano, SiR, The Internet, the new Gorillaz album... Dark and electronic, ravey: Lone, SOPHIE, Chemical Brothers, Ivy Lab, The Prodigy, Soulwax...

If you could collab with any international/local artist?

That's a tricky one (there are many) but probably Damon Albarn. Or Sampha. Or Sevdaliza… there are too many people I want to collaborate with to be honest. Locally, Moonchild Sanelly.

What can we expect from your forthcoming EP/future endeavours?

Well I'm currently putting out a song a week to get the creative juices flowing, I'll be releasing my debut EP We Are Edible in November. Inspired by Sylvia Plath's iconic Mushrooms, it's an exploration of vulnerability and resilience. I don't have a set date yet, but it will definitely have an exciting visual component.

What's in the playlist you've made for us?

Just a couple of my favourite tracks that I've made in the past year. A lot of them are very new. So I decided to put a playlist together rather than a mix so it's easier for people to skip a song if they're not feeling it. My style of production is pretty varied, but I like to think there is something for everyone.

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