Zvrra is an avant-garde artist by anyone's standards. Her background as a video game developer has a clear influence on the music she makes.
That can be anything from industrial to techno, witch house to hip hop, but most often her sounds exist in the intricate spaces in between all that. Her perfectly entitled November album Bizzaroland on Avian was a fine example of that, and one united by an eerie darkness that kept you looking over your shoulder.
But this week's mix is full steam ahead through a shadowy world of grit and grime. It's a one-hour techno excursion that explores myriad different rhythms from flat-footed to floating, broken to brutal. It is unrelenting from start to finish, building the tension through a mix of texture and tempo, pulling back then going again just when it matters. It speaks of DJ with a unique sense of control and mastery of darkness.
Read on to learn about what inspired the mix, how it was put together, the influence of video games on Zvrra's music and her recent releases.
Hey there, thank you for taking out time to answer these questions and of course: thanks for recording this podcast for us! What can you tell us about the mix?
Thanks! So, I've recorded this mix to take you into a zone where I hang. I went through my list of friends and had them send some of their best tracks – and then dug through them straight forward, along with my usual search process, which is usually searching for the smaller artists on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. I’ve put a lot of my friends and associates in this mix here, so shout outs to them and all the tracks! One track I want to shout out in particular though is DJ Dogecoin - 22021B.
You have a background as a video game developer, which is something that comes up a lot in reference to your musical output. Do you take inspiration from video game development processes into the world of music production, or the other way around?
I naturally get ideas for music when looking at visuals, graphics and things of the sort. Sometimes I’ll think about visuals from games or art assets that I create, or from other games – and it just gives me ideas. I think just with everything I’ve been through, my mind just interprets and translates things a bit differently and has this like 'autopilot mode' when creating.
You've mentioned that you purposely go out of the way to use things that aren't the standard – and 'Bizzaroland' certainly exemplifies this – what is it that keeps driving you towards creating something unique?
Early on, when I was first starting, Pharrell Williams was someone that influenced me to develop my own sound. I noticed their sound was so unique and different from others, but still was great to listen to. I usually go out of my way to use things that aren’t the standard, but it depends! Like they say: "if it's not broke, then don’t fix it" – and I agree. I’m not going to purposely try to find a different kick sound if the first kick I select sounds fine in the track, for example. Really though: it just seems like my mind is on autopilot creative-wise, and draws inspiration from whatever I see, translating it into an audio form: unheard music pops up into my head solely off certain imagery. That right there is how a lot of my music is made in my world. With 'Bizzaroland' there was more of a concept: I wanted to show off, and with guidance, it was put together in a proper fashion.
Your most recent EP, 'Array of Light', has been described as the perfect soundtrack for this winter. If 'Bizzaroland' would be the soundtrack for a video game, what would you experience in it, what would the story be?
Bizzaroland would be a world where society is flipped inside out in an unusual way. Things are not what they seem, an untitled anomaly is worshipped as an oracle, the lands are withered. The insects of the earth grow tired and break their order in search for more. The scenery has a really soft purple, yellow and blue hue to it and a dense fog overwhelms the environment. You’re on a quest simply to find an understanding and learn how to survive within this Bizzaroland.
I was reading an interview where you mentioned that 'Array of Light' is inspired by the beauty and surreality of winter – and that it's meant to transport the listener to another plane of existence, a plane full of snow. What plane of existence did you have in mind when recording this mix, where are you sending us with it?
I'm sending you to this outside rave located in a place within my dreams. I’ve dreamt of this location at least twice. There's a makeshift bonfire going, there's abandoned cars surrounding a bridge and there is a motor bus that is tipped over on its side. Some of us are sitting and standing on top of the bus nodding our heads and some of us are just dancing below on the bridge enjoying the night sky.