This young Niagara Falls producer/DJ is following in deadmau5' footsteps
It’s late into the afternoon and the first sustained period of sunshine has been bestowed upon the ravers of Ever After Music Festival in Kitchener, Ontario. It’s the final day of a three-day bash and ravers and ravettes can be seen in every direction decorated in neon swimwear, floral crowns, stick-on tattoos and clusters of beaded arm candy.
While the bulk of the mob head-bangs and fist-pumps in front of the main stage, a small crowd is forming to its right. Twenty-one-year-old DJ/producer Isabelle Rezazadeh, better known as Rezz, is making a post-set appearance stopping to pose for photos and chat with fans.
“Normally after a festival, as of lately, I have to leave immediately and go to the next city, but today I’m going to chill.”
“With the goggles it kind of changed the whole thing for me. I became my character that I’ve always wanted to be.”
The young Canadian DJ has just wrapped up a far-out set that was anything but chill. The audience was at full-force by the time she emerged on stage fashioned in a plain black tee, matching cap and a psychedelic pair of strobing goggles that alternated between just about every colour of the rainbow. With her new custom spectacles Rezz was able to debut the character she’s always imagined becoming for the first time before a Canadian audience. The night before at Ascend in Boston, however, she unveiled her character for the first time ever.
“I’ll just never forget it because I just remember walking, having the security guard hold my arm and walk me to the stage and my goggles were lit and all the fans were like so crazy and it was my show,” Rezz remembers. “My vision became real.”
“Every other show I been doing was without the goggles, which was fun obviously and I’ve had really cool experiences, but with the goggles it kind of changed the whole thing for me. I became my character that I’ve always wanted to be.”
It’s a vision that’s been years in the making. At age 16, Rezazadeh spent her spare time mixing and mashing the hit songs of others at small parties and high school dances in her hometown of Niagara Falls, Ontario. One of the defining moments that gave her the motivation she needed to create her own music was when she saw DJ/producer and fellow Falls native, deadmau5, live at HARD Day of the Dead festival in L.A. It was then that she decided to really delve into the production of dance music.
“As soon as I started making music I was like, ‘this is what I’m meant to do on the planet … and I’m not going to let anybody ever stop me from doing it,’ and that was it and everybody doubted me, everyone.”
Rezazadeh spent a year and a half in her room toiling over sinister melodies, ominous full bass techno and gritty dubstep, slowly developing an alien sound that would later become the musical embodiment of her character Rezz. After curating a throng of original music, she hit the road. Shortly after, her evocative compositions were discovered by Toronto electronic music producer Attlas who, being signed under Canadian label mau5trap, had close connections to the almighty deadmau5. Rezz soon found herself opening for her musical idol, the mau5 himself, in Montreal, an experience that would ultimately dissolve the doubts of anyone uncertain about her chosen career path.
“[mau5trap] booked me and the next thing you know I’m opening for deadmau5.” Rezz can hardly contain her elation recalling the event that flipped her world upside down. Not only did she get to open for one of her all-time idols, but the mau5 himself greeted her during her set and, according to Rezz, sat on the floor next to her until her performance ended.
“No one’s really from [Niagara Falls] that are artists/musicians so he was like, ‘What? You’re from the Falls and you went to a high school that was like five minutes down the road from the one [I] went to?’ It just made it so that there was automatically a connection.”
It was pretty much a done deal from there. After amassing a lavish online following, playing in some major festivals and continuously receiving comparisons to famed French techno DJ/producer Gesaffelstein, it came as no surprise that the girl spinning the haunting bass-heavy tunes and rocking the techno underworld signed her proverbial soul to the mau5trap roster. Rezz debuted her status as the new girl on the label with “Serenity”, a track released through mau5trap’s much-anticipated compilation project, We Are Friends Vol.4 in June 2015. Then, at the cusp of 2016, the young beat maker followed up with a four-track EP she christened The Silence is Deafening.
“It’s a lot of hard work, especially for the people who put their life into their music.”
Things picked up like rapid-fire after that, but even before the EP launch, Rezz was constantly on the road. She began living half her life on stage and the other half on a plane. This year alone Rezz threw down in Austin, Texas for South By Southwest, rocked the boat at HolyShip! in Miami and has been booked to play in Belgium for Tomorrowland, one of the biggest music festivals in the world, for the second year in a row. As someone who had never even been on a family vacation growing up, touring was a massive shift from her once ordinary teenage affairs just a few years ago.
“It’s very exhausting travelling from city to city. I’ll play a festival and leave immediately, go to the airport and play another festival,” Rezz explains.
“It’s a lot of hard work, especially for the people who put their life into their music … I don’t just DJ and play other people’s stuff, I play a lot of mostly my own stuff.”
When she does finally get to put down her passport, Rezz is likely spending her moments of solitude back home working on a new legion of music and tweeting her extraterREZZtrial fan base. Although the days spent doing average earthly activities are often short-lived, the young martian says it’s the perfect balance for her right now.
While Rezz has accomplished so much in such little time, the artist still aspires to do more. “Eventually I want to do film scores and produce soundtracks [for] cool, scary, weird movies,” she says with an optimistic surge of enthusiasm.
“[I want to become] more well-known for reasons that are all genuine and coming from a place of true and real inspiration. I just want to keep growing in every way possible. That’s my only goal in life, to keep growing and evolving.”
Into the final moments of her hour-long set, Rezz looks out toward the cheering crowd through her custom LED goggles and points a finger to the sky. There’s a feeling of epiphany that’s almost tangible. Her sound seems to be something they’ve never quite heard before, but it’s a vibe that evokes an enchanting sense of rebellion further highlighted by the scene in front of her. And as girls dressed as fairies and ballerinas take flight on the shoulders of fist-pumping dudes, while those on the ground shuffle like no one’s watching, Rezz closes with the perfect song, an original collaboration with underground French producer Raito, titled “Alien”.
Photos © Sadé Powell + Urbanology Magazine