Dance

REZZ Talks New EP and Performing in Virtual Reality: 'It Was Kind of Fun to Just Play to the Wall'

REZZ
Austin Hargrave

REZZ photographed on March 15, 2019 at Neighbourhood Studios in Toronto.

Isabelle Rezazadeh is on Twitter, reading reviews of the show she just performed for a wall.

Rezazadeh -- better known as the producer REZZ -- has just finished performing a concert in virtual reality, using the show to debut her Beyond the Senses EP, a six song collection out July 24.

While Rezazadeh typically plays in front of tens of thousands of fans -- collectively known as the Cult of REZZ -- this afternoon she strapped herself to motion capture technology and directed her energy at a stack of computers and a massive screen attached to the wall. As her brooding new music played, images of a moody, futuristic digitally rendered world were displayed before her, with roughly 75,000 members of the Cult entering this realm via virtual reality. Produced in conjunction with Wave, which has created VR concerts for artists including the Glitch Mob, Jean-Michel Jarre and Imogen Heap, the show's visuals will also serve as the backdrop for REZZ's upcoming Beyond the Senses tour.  

Billboard Dance caught up with REZZ to talk about the EP, peforming in virtual reality and pushing creative boundaries. 

What compelled you to do a show in VR?

I thought that the name Beyond the Senses is a very outer worldly name in general, and I wanted to do something out of the box. This new technology gave the perfect opportunity to go outside of the box and create a new experience for people.

People in the virtual reality space often say that electronic music is particularly well suited to the technology, since what you guys do is so inherently steeped in tech. Do you think your music and aesthetic lends itself to this experience?

I was questioning that at first. I wasn’t sure how well it was going to go down, but now that we’ve done it, I see that it’s been really amazing and I think the fans really enjoyed every minute of it. Right now everyone on Twitter is just freaking out about how amazing it was.

How did it feel for you to be performing, essentially, for a wall?

It actually felt fun. It was a lot less stressful. I was still a little bit nervous, but I was nowhere near as nervous as I am when I go onstage at concerts. It was kind of fun to just play to the wall. It felt natural. I didn’t feel uncomfortable, even though I was the only one in the room that was vibing out and dancing, while everyone behind me was just watching the show.

Beyond the Senses follows up your 2018 LP Certain Kind of Magic. How have you evolved since that last project?

I think I’ve evolved a lot, actually, especially now that I’ve started to work a lot more with vocalists. I’ll make a little instrumental, like a one-minute segment, and pass it over to a vocalist. I think I’ve evolved a lot in feeling like I can sit and actually work with people now, whereas before, I felt a lot more intimidated by the concept of working with other artists. Now I’m so down for collaborations. It’s so much fun for me these days. It opens up my brain and it also evolves the music.

Did "Falling," your collaboration with Underoath, mark that evolution for you?

There was the Underoath collab, but also another one on the EP called “Lonely” with the Rigs. Those two songs helped me realize how fun it is to explore. The thing is, I can always make these weird, trippy -- I guess the fans would call them mid-tempo -- type tunes. I can make those all day long, but the thing that challenges me is really stepping outside the box and making stuff that I haven’t done before. The Underoath collab and the collab with the Rigs, it’s stuff like that that makes me really explore my boundaries.

You've got the EP out today and some big shows on the calendar, with your Red Rocks/REZZ Rocks coming up at the end of September. What's on the horizon that you're most excited about?

I’m definitely excited about this EP coming out. I’m obviously excited for Red Rocks. I’m excited for the whole tour, because the whole visual component you just saw [during the VR performance] is what my stage is going to be in real life, so it’s going to be really fun. The tours are always amazing. I’m looking forward to the plans we have for 2020 as well. All I can say is that it’s going to pop off.