Photo: A Elloway (Sophia Saze)
“Packed 2019,” Sophia Saze when asked about her DJing schedule and the same can be said for her work as a producer and label owner of Dusk & Haze. If her equally packed contribution to our Groove podcast is any indication, there are at least two releases forthcoming on the imprint that she runs with RTMC alias Reilly McGale and 2019 will see the first album release of the Georgian-born artist. Listen to her carthartic mix and read our interview with Sophia Saze below.
In 2017, you started your own Dusk & Haze label with an EP of your own, followed the year after by an SDX single – a relatively slow pace. How would you describe the philosophy behind Dusk & Haze?
Quality over quantity. I don’t allow the pressure of time to dictate our output, and certainly not my perception of value. Each release is highly curated from both sonic and visual angles, so that can’t happen overnight. I’d rather release a couple records a year than become a factory line. I also prefer to motivate the people who actually anticipate and look forward to the next release. RTMC and I, we really care for what we do and it consumes both of our hearts immensely, so we want to make sure we’re translating what it is the artist wants to express in the best way possible. Picking artists for us isn’t strictly based on tracks either, it’s important they represent good moral character and our overall ethos. With that said, we’ve got our first various artists compilation coming up soon, comprised of 15 tracks, as well as a a new merch line which we’re excited for.
The Solace EP was your debut release, which also is unusual – as a rule, most young producers try to make a name for themselves on an already established label. Why did you choose to release it on your own?
I’m not fazed by big labels and I don’t think young artists like myself should lean on anyone’s stamp of approval to validate worth. I think self-releasing is a powerful thing, especially in today’s generation when all the resources are readily accessible. I’m an avid believer in the notion of not desperately trying to force my way into anything – put music out and the right people will find it. I realized that by doing the complete opposite initially, but learned pretty fast.
You are classically trained and in fact develop most of your tracks from piano, which can be heard on the closing track “Dawn”. How did that track come about and why include it in an EP that otherwise comprises dancefloor material?
I think there are breaking points in every producer’s development, phases we have to go through to better our skill set. “Dawn” was definitely that for me, it really granulated my perception of composition and helped me start branching off. I was practicing piano one day and had this idea of detuning all the keys while deconstructing the tempo throughout the song, along with the vocal bits of me reciting a poem. I wrote a lot in my spare time. That method is now my most frequently used trick and it’s drizzled in the entirety of my upcoming album. I included it with the other tracks because my outlook is this – dynamic. I just don’t like to open demos for exa. and each track sounds exactly like the last one.
What can you already tell us about your debut album?
It’s certainly my most honest work. I was terrified by the idea of putting it out at first, felt too naked, but in the end that’s me in full disclosure and a lifetime’s worth of carving away at various sounds. I sketched out one hour of music over a sleepless 48 hour stretch, assuming the label would pick a few songs they liked. I can’t say much more about it until it’s announced, which will be pretty soon, but in a nutshell it’s a concept piece one hour long with no breaks and full of emotion.
“Most of my music is in minors, I can’t seem to bounce into a happier headspace,” you’ve stated in an interview about your own productions. However, how do you relate to dance music as a listener and, more importantly, DJ?
I guess my belief is that DJing and production aren’t exactly one and of the same. I respect that everyone has a different belief on this matter, but my personal one is that my role as a DJ is to entertain the crowd and make them happy. That doesn’t mean compromising my taste, but DJ gigs for me aren’t about me, they are about the crowd. I come to every gig prepared with all types of music. There’s no way to know what to play until the party starts, I can’t predict that, I need to feel the party. So, I love producing music in minors but a DJ gig isn’t a live show and if people are in a more uplifting mood and that’s the vibe that they’re searching for in that moment, I’ll find music in my library to match that. It’s important for me to feel the crowd is happy, I’ve failed otherwise.
What was the idea behind your contribution to our Groove podcast?
I’ve been going through major life changes recently, and the idea behind this mix is a sort of catharsis of all my emotions at the moment, the strongest being my move out of New York. It’s an energetic and transitional time for me and I guess the track selections as well as mixing style here are a culmination of all the things happening around me. I chose 48 tracks mixed in 60 minutes – fast, hard, and strong feelings.
Last but not least: Where can we see you behind the decks in the near future?
April 10 – Bossa Nova Civic Club (Exile), Brooklyn USA
April 19 – Warehouse (Educate), Paris France
April 20 – Rinse FM, Paris France
April 26 – Motion, Asuncion Paraguay
April 27 – D-Edge, Sao Paulo Brazil
May 17 – TBA, Shanghai China
May 19 – The Great Wall Festival, Qinhuangdao City China
June 7 – Basement, Brooklyn NY
June 8 – Untitled, Toronto Canada
Stream: Sophia Saze – Groove Podcast 204
01. Fjader – Six of Swords
02. Casual Treatment – Prisoner of Life (Unreleased)
03. Fjader – Ison
04. Rhys Fulber + Blush Response – Corruption of Form
05. Exzakt – Me + My 808
06. Lars Löeom – Crane (Planet Rhythm)
07. Headroom – Morgue (Planet Rhythm)
08. Heidi Sabertooth – Eyes Are Watching (Lobster Theremin)
09. DJ Boss – Hydromorf (Radial Remix)
10. Sugar Lobby – Unbroken
11. Strange Connection – Welcome To The D.D.R. (Millimetric Remix)
12. Iionic Vision – Die Macht (Millimetric Remix)
13. Poli + Lorenzo Raganzini – No Escape (Hex)
14. Greenbeam + Leon – Key Protest
15. Das Spezial – Primitive + Civilized
16. Surachai – Casts of Broken Timelines
17. Lee Reynolds + Machino – Problemas
18. The Soft Moon – Young (Lokier Remix)
19. Loktibrada – Untl (Regis Remix)
20. Stephanie Sykes – Sikker (Dyad)
21. Larry McCormick – Vibes
22. The Ghost That Walks – Grand River Stalking
23. Casual Treatment – Silicate (Splinter Remix) (Bipolar Disorder)
24. The Advent + Zein – Eyes of Envy (Loose Club Edition) (Monotone)
25. DJ Boss – Cekuj Zmrde
26. VTSS – Up + Down (Haven)
27. Danny Electro – Ground Zero
28. Nasenbluten – Airstrikes
29. Geoff da Chef – Noise
30. Special Request – Make It Real
31. Emmanuel Top – Tone
32. Aahan – Tyranny
33. Buzzi – Atomic Child
34. False Witness – Devil May Cry (E-Missions)
35. BPMF – Jeepn The Mon (Dusk + Haze – Unreleased)
36. Asmus Odsat – Sjúskað (Dusk + Haze – Unreleased)
37. Ayarcana – I’m Not Trying Ti Help (Dusk + Haze – Unreleased)
38. SC-164 – Ten Eight Seven
39. Thomas P. Heckmann – Violent Stains
40. Twcor – Hidden Source (Endlec Remix)
41. Bad Company – The Nine
42. DJ Hazard – Machete
43. Octo Octa – My Girls
44. King Midas – X
45. Boris Divider – Mirror
46. SPORT1000 – Dawnqueen (Sport)
47. Heidi Sabertooth – Weeding Through (Lobster Theremin)
48. Fjader – Six Of Swords