Interview: Roza Terenzi

Roza Terenzi is a producer and DJ from Perth, Australia, now based in Melbourne. After a number of years producing under another name she adopted this moniker to reflect her change in direction and focus. The hands of fate (and the record industry) led to a series of records coming out in quick succession on different labels. Specifically, we spoke to her in relation to to the Weakest Link 12″ on Voyage Recordings, the Australian label helmed by Berlin-based Andy Hart. The release is emblematic of her sound, with playful scratches and jaunty synth melodies floating over classic electro sounds and ravey breaks. It also comes with a D. Tiffany remix; the pair have collaborated for a release on the latter’s new label Planet Euphorique. We caught up with Roza in mid-April for an entertaining Gmail-based chat in which we discussed this sudden glut of records, her musical beginnings and inspirations and the meaning of the word “doof”.

Hello! How are you? “I’m great :~) and u?” I’m okay. So I guess this interview was kicked off based on the Voyage release but you have a lot going on at the moment. Three records this month! “lol yea kind of bizarre how it ended up that way… gotta love ye olde record pressing biz.” Absolutely. This being Record Store Day month and all. “yup i hear that always complicates things. but yeah i guess my first record on good company was heavily delayed and i was waiting for that to come out before i did anything else. so i had a massive backlog of tracks ready to go, so i guess that’s why when people started hitting me up after that they were there to be used.” That’s The Right Zone“yup.” What was it like having a Jayda G remix on your first release? “it was cool! we met randomly when i was overseas a few years ago and it was nice to have her involved as we kept in touch and hung when she was in Australia last year.” Ah that’s great. So was this something that came from your personal relationship rather than through a label? “yup i randomly asked her whilst we were in the club dancing lol.” Ah that’s the best time to ask! “she’s like yea maybe send me the tracks first. lol so i did.” Haha. Was it something similar for the D. Tiffany remix (of “Weakest Link”)? “not quite.. i mean we had already been sending music back and forth and working on some projects together.” Ah cool. I got the promo for that one and then saw the news about Planet Euphorique and had to double take. How did you two first connect? “haha why the double take?” I was confused like “is this the same release? Something new? did I miss something?” I’m constantly tired and in a state of confusion, haha. “haha messing with ur mind. i like it. we met when she was touring Australia last year around this time, she was playing at inner varnika so we hung there and before that had a dinner with a group of people running the show she was playing at (at this club lounge) where i was a resident DJ.” Those pre-show dinners are always nice. “yeah it was a really nice one, lots of gags.”

Are you still a resident? “nope, i gave it up a couple of months ago. it was amazing for my first year moving to Melbourne, but now i unfortunately don’t have the time.” I hear that. Are you focusing more on production or is it more a case of ‘real life’? “a mix i guess. focusing a lot more on production but also djing every weekend / more touring etc.” Ah i see! That’s exciting. “and also working part time scheduling fresh produce delivery trucks to distribution centers…” We all have to eat. “hahah. it’s true, and the rent in Melbourne isn’t cheap.” Damn. Blame the Irish. “I’ll blame whoever coined Melbourne the ‘most liveable city in the world’.” lol! You’re not from Melbourne, is that right? “yeah I’m from Perth.” As a complete outsider, can you tell me how different the two are? For me to travel to the other side of the country would take a two-hour drive… “Perth is the ~most isolated city in the world~ so it’s far away from everything. it’s about a 3.5-4hr plane trip between Melb and Perth. they aren’t super different, but Perth is kind of like a smaller, more laid back/beach style place, with less going on, but still really cool things and people making things happen.” I suppose if you’re that isolated you have to do something yourself. “i think that’s everyone’s theory yeah. so much great music is cultivated there. some of the funnest parties I’ve ever played have been there too. cos the clubs are terrible, the beach and outdoor raves are the best.” That’s cool. I see Pendulum are from Perth. “our finest exports. lolol” Hahah. And Tim Minchin. “Tim Minchin was my neighbour lol.” No way!

Can you tell me how you got into dance music? Was it all internet based? I was talking to someone the other day from somewhere in the Midwest in the US who got into dance music through CD compilations in the ’90s. Much the same as me actually. “i think it started from my dad. he has a studio at home and i actually used to make him help me make loop-based rap tracks when i was 9. he makes all this cool ’90s electronic dubby stuff so i was always listening to that whilst growing up. but my more dancey side started after the electronic stuff.. i was super into like squarepusher lol and studied more experimental electronic stuff. combine that with hitting the festival circuit once i turned 18. i think that’s where it started kind of manifesting for me and curving the style of music i was making (away from kind of jazz and pop i was making in high school).” That is so cool. “my first ever track i made is called ‘clap to the crap rap’ and my dad made a trance remix. it’s so funny.” Wow. Forthcoming on Dark Entries. “lmao. 100%.” Did you sing on your older tracks? “yes i did. in that rap track i sound like a legitimate toddler. and then from like 13-17 years i sung on everything. even though i hated the sound of my voice on recordings. it was my way of expressing music, through songwriting. before i knew how to produce i guess. i would just like record all the instruments and my voice through logic and stuff.” Has your process changed? Or just become more refined? “it’s totally changed yeah. evolved i guess. the way i approach making music is now based on a combination of all the genres i like listening too. which is hard because i like a lot of different styles, many which are super contrasting.” Haha. “for a long time i was trying to smash a million different genres and ideas into my music. which is mental. i still kind of do lol, but i think it’s starting to make a little more sense now.”

What led to the switch of aliases? “my last project was honestly just like a documentation of my beginnings of learning to produce. 5 years of experimenting with sound.” Right. “i finally felt like i got to the point where i knew the direction i wanted to take and had started to be able to realise what i wanted in my head through production. it felt like the right time to make that distinction.” For sure. Just going through the tracks over the years you can hear the progression. “it was definitely way more dancefloor based too.” Did your DJing style change as well, do you think? “yeah. i never really intended to be a DJ. it was always the production side that was my passion.” Ah. “but i was playing at a few house parties with friends and it was really fun. and i remember my first proper big set warming up for an international and i was just like what is going on and my hands were shaking and then i ended up having the time of my life. and over the next few years after that i started playing live less and DJing more. and now i honestly think it’s almost 50/50. they are very separate things for me and my process behind them. but have equal importance and influence on me.” Sure.

Can I ask what your name means? Or where it comes from? “sure. i really wanted to pay some kind of tribute to one of the many incredible (and often overlooked) earlier female electronic composers. and i found out about Fiorella terenzi, an astrophysicist and amazing musician.” Just read her bio – fascinating! ‘Fiorella Terenzi is an Italian-born astrophysicist, author and recording artist who is best known for taking recordings of radio waves from far-away galaxies and turning them into music.’ “i loved her vibe, so i stole her name i guess 😐 lol!” Haha. “haha but yeah i just wanted to have that kind of link in there somewhere. because i was really pleasantly surprised by the amount of women who were such pioneers for electronic music.” For sure. That’s really cool. Have you ever played her music in sets? “i haven’t, but I’ve listened a lot at home. i might incorporate some into a radio show I’m starting, that’s probably my main chance to play less club-focused music.” Yeah. Where’s the show going to be? “it’s a new online station based in Melbourne called Sky Lab! it’s shaping up to be really great. launching very soon.” Wicked! And what sort of show will you have? “I’m not entirely sure yet. i don’t want to make it too specific. I’m going to be doing a show once a month.. i want to just focus on all different stuff i love, but I’ll be making sure to highlight as many female producers as possible, which won’t be hard.” Not at all.

What’s the scene like in Melbourne, can I ask? “the amount of talent here is honestly ridiculous. the local DJs here often outshine the internationals coming through in my opinion.” Fantastic! “the club options aren’t great but people are going back to more outdoor things which are the funnest to play at.” Those raves you mentioned. “the production level in the last few years especially is inspiring, i love having so many talented people around to trade ideas with and share music with. i think the international recognition is really starting to rise, and so it should. the only downside really is just the distance from the rest of the world.” lol yeah. I’ve never been. “you should. everyone who comes here says they want to move ha” Well I have a mortgage and I burn easily lol. “hahaha.” Can you tell me about “Seminyak Dream”? “lol this is so dumb because I’ve never been there… but i just have this running joke about going there with a few different people.” I see I see. “most of my track names are ridiculous and just come from jokes with myself or friends. weakest link is from being obsessed with watching the tv show ….” I guessed! I was in Bali on my honeymoon. I was in Sanur, which is on the opposite side – we went for a really quiet relaxing time, we’d heard Seminyak was like … Ibiza to Australians or something. “hahaha. so true. Bali is the playground for cashed up Perth people. sadly. it’s cheaper to go to Bali from Perth than it is to go to Melbourne.” Fuck! “so I’ve just moved further away from my dream.” Boo. “one day…” Once you get rich off the lucrative breaks market. “lmao. Bali breakz. new genre.” Gamelan breakz. “bahah. too real.” I’d actually love that, no lie. “gamelan breakz with a few cocktailz on the beach watching the sunrise, how could you say no.”

I don’t to ask the boring question about how you hooked up with the various labels, but are there any quirky stories in there? Beyond “they liked my tracks, we put out a record”. “hahah. i could make something up if you like? no it was pretty much all just people hitting me up and asking for demos. the planet euphorique wasn’t really planned for the label we just made a bunch of tracks together and it came together and figured it was perfect for the first release on Sophie’s label. i have a record coming out on salt mines later in the year. i guess that was a little more interesting, we had an ‘initiation’ and i went to a doof with the guys who ran the label.” What is a doof? “omg what.” I googled it and I see it’s an Australian thing but could you explain briefly for our readers? “hahaha i guess it’s usually like a wild outdoor bush party… traditionally trance / goa vibes but now we just call most open-air raves/parties doofs… i think we find it funny i don’t know. it was actually a mini festival where we went. but i just call it a doof.” Right. 

Do you have any thoughts on the current state of … breaks? “lol! eh. we will see who’s around after the trend dies out i guess haaa. i dunno..” Hah 100pc. “i love breakbeat and so much early ’90s music has always been so influential to me, cos i am always drawn to rhythm.” Right. “a lot of it relates to that kind of IDM and experimental stuff i started listening to. so I’m constantly drawn to it. i think chucking a break over a mediocre track doesn’t make it good. but I’ll always love that exciting rhythmic element.” Absolutely not! I like what you did with “Yeh Yeh Yeh” for example. there were some great think break tracks last year – particularly “Theme from Q” and “All My Love” by Hodge and Peder Mannerfelt. “yeah my favourite is always using elements or snips to incorporate into drums, or mimicking break patterns with other instruments. There’s a lot of amazing producers who do similar things to really excite dancefloors in my opinion.”

What’s the plan after April? I mean is it autumn for you now? Or is that relative, like is it always sunny. “yea its April, starting to get a little colder for sure. I’m heading to NZ at the end of the month to play there for the first time with ben fester which will be great. then a few oz shows in QLD and Sydney before i head overseas for 3 months.” Oh wow exciting! “yeah, xcited to be escaping the winter here. and doing my first proper overseas tour.” And will that be live or DJing, or as you said, 50/50? “DJing. i don’t think I’m playing live. it’s popped up but I’d rather keep it DJ whilst I’m travelling around.” Sure. “i want to keep my live shows as a more special thing, it’s not something i want to be doing in clubs.” Ahh okay. Also there are so many variables when it comes to live shows. “yeah it’s just that when i play live i want it to be fairly curated, not so improvised. and i don’t know if that translates as well in clubs.” I get that. “it doesn’t really reflect how i approach making music. but maybe that’s another thing in the future… another project or something.” It’s all a learning curve eh. LIFE! “yepp.”

What was the last thing that made you dance? “my friends playing some music after my gig on the weekend. let’s just say people were doing the worm in the living room. lol. but no actually on Saturday night d. tiff and i played b2b for 4 hours and just worked through every genre and bpm. the rap and electro was making me dance hard.”

Roza Terenzi – Weakest Link is out soon on Voyage.

Aidan Hanratty

Dublin ...

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