By Nicholas Jason Lopez
From collaborations with Dr. Dre and Uk rapper Akala and tours with Destiny’s Child, Reza Safinia has definitely made strides in the music industry throughout his career.
For him, 2021 was the year that he found the “Yin” to his “Yang,” in more ways than one; with the release of two albums via his Music & Texture imprint and he even got to put out the score for the HBO Max show “Warrior.”
The albums explore sounds of post-classical explorations, modern electronic production/textures and piano-driven compositions, while being designed to serve as a mediation tool for the listener with an emphasis on different energies.
The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with the Iranian-born, Los Angeles-based artist about what he has been up to lately and more.
Music Bugle – What was your goal for ‘Yang’?
Reza Safinia – I wanted to expand on the themes from my album ‘Yin,’ with electronic production. With both albums, my aim was to capture and express my philosophical and spiritual thoughts, my conception of life energy in a musical form.
Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from?
Reza Safinia – There are things I appreciate about all the cultural aspects of my background. Iranian culture is rich in literature, poetry, music, definitely cuisine, the people are warm and soulful. Brits have an amazing sense of humor, Londoners are – for the most part – genuine and very creative… American ideology at its best is empowering and open to innovation, with a can-do attitude. All of that said, I am proud of individual people, rather than places or identities. I’m on the John Lennon tip of, “Imagine there’s no countries…”
Music Bugle – What is the most challenging aspect of being a producer?
Reza Safinia – All the stuff that has nothing to do with music. If you want to do music as a career, the business end and marketing stuff, you have to do a lot to get your name out and it can be a potential drain on your creativity, although I’ve tried to find a way to integrate it into the creative process and I really do enjoy the one-on-one interaction social media can give you between you and the people listening to your work. A few times, I shared some creative choices as polls on Instagram and got people’s feedback during the making of ‘Yang’ and that was actually a cool and fun process.
Music Bugle – How would you compare your second album to your first?
Reza Safinia – ‘Yang’ is the counter to ‘Yin.’ They are both expressions of how I see and feel the world, but ‘Yang’ comes from an active vibe wheras ‘Yin’ from a passive. Musically, what that means is they share similar themes and melodies, but ‘Yin’ puts you on an inward meditative journey, whereas ‘Yang’ makes you want to connect with others and their energy. In more concrete terms, ‘Yin”s instrumentation is largely classical-sounding piano and cello, influenced by Erik Satie, Debussy, maybe even a little Schubert, whereas ‘Yang’ is an electronic album influenced by my favorite electronica, melodic house and techno!
Music Bugle – What was it like getting to work on the score of HBO Max’s “Warrior”?
Reza Safinia – It was a gift for a composer, because the show is stylized and rich in characters, so it gave us the opportunity to try wild combinations of sounds, like mixing pulpy Western guitars with hip hop beats and some electronic textures. It’s kind of like a melange of Rza, Jack White and Morricone with a bit of synth ambience thrown in for good measure! Also, Bruce Lee is my all-time hero, so to work on something connected to him felt otherworldly!
Music Bugle – Of all the collaborations you’ve done, which one did you least expect to happen?
Reza Safinia – The project with Dr Dre. I really did not see that coming and it was such an incredible experience!
Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
Reza Safinia – I initially had a lot more time for myself, because scoring work came to an abrupt halt. I used it as an opportunity to learn new skills in music and production, which ended up in these albums. I also got to go a lot deeper into my yoga and meditation practice and started teaching. The best part was having my daughter at home for school, having lunch with her everyday and bonding in a different way than usual. In general, the pandemic has made me focus on what’s important to me.
Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?
Reza Safinia – Burning Man! It’s such a great reset, a great opportunity to both commune and to go inward, to learn about yourself whilst being of service to others and having a blast while doing it!
Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?
Reza Safinia – When I was a teenager, I saw Oliver Stone’s “Doors” movie and there was a voiceover – by Val Kilmer’s Jim Morrison – over the intro talking about how he felt it was important to live your life in such a way that it would justify someone writing a book or making a movie about it. That really lodged in my head. On the one hand, there’s an egotistical element to that, but on the other, it’s really a great statement on living truthfully and presently do that in every moment you can live in an uninhibited manner and enrich your life with experience. That’s my daily motivation.
Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?
Reza Safinia – Right now, I’m immersed in electronica and techno. I love Sainte Vie, Thylacine, Dandara, Arutani, Artbat, Anyma, Mind Against, Tale of Us, Jan Blomqvist, Kolle, Oliver Koletzki … quite a few different sounds on the spectrum of electronic music!