This month’s student spotlight introduces you to ICON grad Rinzen – an emerging producer making an impact creating new worlds inspired by mystical techno.
ICON graduate Michael Sundius started 2017 by launching his artist project Rinzen and his very first release. He then ended 2017 with three sold-out shows opening for Eric Prydz in NYC. It’s safe to say something was working.
Sundius seems to have created a winning recipe here. By combining progressive and techno with a dash of cinematic elements, he’s developed a unique sound and captured the attention of listeners across the world. One of those listeners is electronic music pioneer Deadmau5 who has since been a major supporter. Rinzen opened for him three times this year and recently put out an official remix for his song Monophobia. He also has two original EPs released on Deadmau5’s Mau5trap label.
But things are still just getting warmed up for this rising icon. Rinzen also got his first taste of the festival circuit this year at Electric Forest. He also has big plans for bringing a live show to the stage. Moreover, with the help of his new management team at 720 (Deadmau5, Knife Party, Pendulum), I imagine those plans are well on their way to fruition. Keep an eye out for this one!
In this short interview, Rinzen talks about his creative process and what inspires his project. He also shares the top three personal characteristics that attribute to his success.
1. You seem to have a strong vision for this project. What is that vision and what has inspired it?
My vision is to build entire worlds with my music, and then to tell stories within them. I think it was born out of a lot of things. Primarily growing up watching a lot of movies and reading a lot of books. I would get lost in these different worlds for hours on end. I always loved the idea of art that takes you somewhere else, and I wanted to translate that with my own project.
2. Your Forbidden City EP was themed around Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” that we talk about in our Art of Flow class. Where do you see yourself on the Hero’s Journey right now?
First off, I’d like to say I still draw from many of the lessons in that class. It’s had a profound impact on my life as an art-maker.
In regards to the Hero’s Journey and the famous three-part arc, I’d say I’m wholly immersed in the trial period: the belly of the beast. Which is to say, I’ve answered the call to adventure. I’ve also left home and security. And now I’m engaged in the relentless pursuit of my art – which brings its own unique set of challenges and trials. Which is ok! All part of the process.
3. How would you describe your (non-technical) creative process? Do you usually have a concept in mind before you start producing?
It really varies each time. Often I’ll hear a piece of music from a completely different genre that will inspire an idea in my head. A coup of days ago, for instance, I stumbled across the soundtrack to Princess Mononoke. It organically conjured this ambient techno idea. I went to the studio that night and began it. Other times, I’ll just start writing something new for fun, and a concept will come out of that. I also think it’s important to be flexible with your process. Track ideas and concepts can come from anywhere!
4. How about your technical, creative process? What kinds of hardware and plugins are you using these days?
I’ve gotten really into analog synths. I bought my Moog Sub37 a couple of years ago, and that really changed everything for me. Also, I stopped using software synths (not that there’s anything wrong with them). I just start designing all my sounds on that. Moreover, I enjoy the recording nature of analog. There’s something about working exclusively in audio that opens up some awesome sound design opportunities. Plus, it’s way more fun to build sounds outside the box.
5. What top three personal characteristics would you attribute to being successful to your craft and why?
Good question. I think about these things a lot. The first thing I’d say is discipline. I show up at the studio every single day if I can. Usually around the same time. This keeps me in a solid creative routine and helps ward off writer’s block.
The second would be living a healthy lifestyle. Maybe that sounds trite, but I think eating well and exercising enhances my creativity. Not to mention, it gives me way more energy when I’m in the studio.
Lastly, I would say having a strong vision for my art. Staying motivated is a constant battle in this line of work. But if you can create a compelling vision of what you want to achieve or create, it becomes a lot easier to work hard every day to get there.