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Label head Zita Molnar returns to her imprint Zettabyte Records to mark the release of her debut 11-track album, ‘Dimensions’.
Born in Hungary and classically trained in Violin from the age of 7, Zita was opened to the world of electronic music upon moving to America, hallmarking a series of releases on the likes of plunk!, Loob, Baroque Digital, Fierce Animals, Ostfunk and her own collective, Zettabyte Records.
Now rounding off 2018 with a serious bang, Zita drops ‘Dimensions’, delivering her debut LP with clear-cut conviction. Zita makes no mistake in curating a well-crafted and progressive LP, intriguing the crowd continuously as she explores the various realms of techno from start to finish.
From the likes of ‘Eingang’ to ‘Refreshing’, Zita’s classical nuances begin to percolate deep through her productions, overlaying intricate and dazzling melodies against crisp layers of percussion. This appears a consistent theme that’s runs through the collection, warming the crowd deliberately as she begins to sweep the filters and begins to introduce more pounding warehouse blows.
From ‘Moving Dreams’ to ‘Fem Robot Army’, the pace is intensified, as what were once trickling melodies, begin to morph into menacing flurries, setting up the crowd as she prepares for a striking finale.
‘Fire Wings’ sets this exact precedent, as deep elongated synth lines sit against a range of powerful rotations, easing the pressure shortly with ‘Never Told A Soul’ as her ending piece, ‘Solid’, makes for one crucial final attack to round off what is a memorable debut LP.
With her debut album set to drop, we caught up with American producer Zita Molnar, jumping deep into her past and the influences that went into this great collection. Check out the interview below!
Interview with Zita Molnar:
Hi Zita, great to have the chance to talk to you today.
First off, congratulations on the album which is on the way, quality piece of techno work. Can you tell us a bit about the influences that went into creating Dimensions?
The entire album started out as an attempt to create a longer musical story of the various sub genres of techno I have encountered in the past years. It was going to be a concept album. Instead of feeling the pressure to write a harder or darker deeper EP, I wanted to have no limitations and do it all, showcasing the many sides of tech.
For many years, I have been a fan of Adam Bayer, Richie Hawtin, the Detroit techno sound, the acid sound, and then I must mention my soft spot for psychedelic rhythms and tonalities, with multi layer textures. I love going deep within the mind, becoming one with the music where one can forget about their everyday problems. Maceo Plex, Solomun, Nick Warren are great artists who can do that with their tracks. I often also think about what the person will be on when they listen to my music? I don’t want to freak out anyone in a bad way, I want their experience to be enhanced in the best way possible, and the album is attempting to take one through the emotions.
Half way through writing the album, I went through a very difficult time. I lost someone I truly cared for, and I learned about myself that there are times when despite all self discipline, emotions will run so hard that the music will change as well.
Unintentionally the album became both a source of healing and a concept album. It’s allowing one to step into a multidimensional space via music.
As I went through the raw emotions of happiness, love, then loss, anger, disappointments, disbelieve, I also started to balance all that with transformational healing, fighting my demons, reflecting on faults and past patterns, and learning how to prevent them, ultimately resulting in a major change and personal growth while showcasing various styles of techno.
What made you want to make an album in the first place and did you find it an easy process?
The album was an idea to tie together my last couple years of work as a DJ and producer. I wanted to showcase my versatility and the techno genre’s versatility in general.
It took a trip to Berghain, Movement in 2013, and ADE 2015, to fully acknowledge and recognise that what a lot of people call techno in America / California, sounds very different than the techno in Europe, or the techno, even in Detroit!
It’s all good music, but people’s interpretation of techno is so different. I wanted to embrace this diversity.
The process started out easy: I have created a plan for 11 tracks, and dedicated a stylistic feel for each track in advance, but as the universe decided my personal life is going to blow up in the relationship, job, and apartment department – the struggle became real and my goal of 1 track per month for the album was not happening. My mentor and close friend MacVaughn saw this, along with another close musician friend Brian Boncher. These two men encouraged me to put the feels into the music instead of trying to suppress them. They sat me down and I got the big brother talks and guidance until I was able to refocus.
The album took almost 2 years to make instead of the anticipated 1 year. Despite the delay, I am very happy with the results, because the content is reflecting genuine love, pain, playfulness, highs and lows, and excitement while still trying to stay on the techno playground. This is my attempt to share music from my soul with the skills and techno back ground I have at the moment.
Your day job is in pharmacy, how do you balance your day life alongside the more nocturnal lifestyle of a DJ/producer?
Its been increasingly challenging over the years as the music opportunities have grown, to the point, that I had to quit the job I spent 11 years at, just so I am able to work part-time, evening hours that fit my current lifestyle.
I do mostly night shifts (starting work at 1pm) so this way I can get the much needed sleep, and still be able to take care of label duties, gigs, etc.
You recently attended ADE, was this you first trip to the conference? How do you feel you benefitted being over in Amsterdam for the infamous week.
My first ADE was in 2015. I kept hearing the term ADE coming up a lot on social media and being talked about by other accomplished DJs/ producers prior to that year so I feIt it was something important, looked into it. As I did my research, I learned it’s the longest running electronic music conference in Europe. I wish I would have known about this sooner but living in America, finding out about festivals, venues and some happenings can take a minute for a new comer like me living on another continent.
The more I read about ADE, it was a no brainer that I had to attend it asap. I booked a flight and went to Amsterdam solo, committing to soak it all in: the conferences, parties, you name it.
I remember coming back to San Francisco with mixed feelings. Part of me was so excited: I got to see artists performing who don’t get to come to San Francisco a lot (or not at all), I heard industry leaders give very honest and transparent talks about music business, and I got to hang out in Europe, met a ton of awesome industry members and festivals goers. I felt a sense of home in Amsterdam and in Europe in general. I moved from Hungary at age 13, and miss the familiar European vibe if I don’t get to visit it for couple years.
Yet, the other part of me post ADE was a bit sad and scared – I thought to my self, holy crap Zita, you are so damn behind with everything. Your game is not where it should be. Am I even an artist, am I even steering my label, Zettabyte, into the right direction? What am I doing? Do I belong to a genre? How can I make a living in this industry? Basically it stirred up my entire existence, and made me sit down and think about my direction, my performance techniques, and throwing events.
So after collecting myself after a very solid reality check, I came to realise: music is music. It’s not going anywhere. There is no rush. It is art and one cannot please everyone – the product an artist / musician makes is subjective when it comes to approval. There are no rules. If it’s good, people will listen to it – if not, they wont. And money will come with a good product. So basically there are no guaranteed outcomes – you might as well have a good time doing it.
Attending ADE 2018 with this type of mentality was fantastic. I loved seeing what fellow artists were up to (seeing performances where I noticed style changes, or no changes), tested and learnt quite a bit about the new gear and performing tools, and reconnected with many old and new friends who I either just saw a week ago in the USA, or I haven’t see in years due to distance.
What was the creative process like for the album in regards to your studio set up, would you say you’re more software focused or hardware?
I have to say that this particular album was more software focused.
In short, it was Ableton, Komplete Kontrol, NI package and couple midi note generator plug ins, such as Z Step, Sting 64, and my M-Audio Oxygen 25 keyboard.
I was tired of making 2 track EPs, and figured, let’s go old school and do an album instead, let’s write a story. I wrote down the general frame of the album first (which of course changed later). This kept me sort of on track with how many harder and softer tracks I anticipated. Then to fit the mood of the planned track, I would use tunes that were already stuck in my head that I just had to get out of mind; there were times when I would hear a track at a club that would so inspire me that I would start on a new track after that very same event, and there were times when I sort of had writers block, and I would literally click on a bunch of synth sounds one by one (yes… it is very time consuming), but then I would hear a tone or a texture that would just get my mind going.
I do melody first mostly, and then build the track up around it. Beats, and then the accents, then more sound design, more tweaking, more layering, etc. and then it’s done. I try not to spend more than 15 hours on a track. Not sure if this is good or bad, but this is my number. I can only sit for 2-4 hrs at a time. I need to get up move around and come back to the tune again, maybe the next day. There are times, when a track gets done quickly. There were times when I went over to my mentor’s studio, Bruce MacVaughn, because I felt stuck. Shout out to Bruce for his continuous support and pushing me to finish this album, because there were times when that push was needed.
The last 6 month I have acquired 2 new instruments, one of them being an original Roland 303 that I can’t wait to incorporate into my upcoming releases following the release of this album.
Can you give us a bit of a backstory on how you first became involved with music, has it always been electronic or does it stem from elsewhere?
I first become involved with music around age 3. We had a piano, a stand up against our wall. I never forget it because it was so beautiful and shiny! My mom and I would hang out playing it. I wasn’t really playing, I was more pushing on the keys and trying to make something sound nice. Then my mom drew the 8 notes on a music sheet and gave each note a really cute name and cartoon like face to help me learn read music. It was wonderful.
I must have been too young and not good at paying attention, because the piano teacher said I was not ready for music lessons. Next, I ended up in a music specialty elementary school. Recorder and choir were an every day thing, plus a selected instrument. I remember being upset at the school for not having a harp because that’s what I wanted to be my instrument lol! Can you imagine a 6 year old a giant harp? It’s funny now.
At the end my grandmother took me to instrument selection event as both of my parents were working a ton. She was the one who suggested I take up violin, because she played that instrument as well when she was a young girl. The rest is history – to make long story short, I put myself through university with a full violin scholarship.
The plan was to become a symphony violinist and maybe go to pharmacy school so I can later afford paying for violin lessons and a really, really nice violin, etc. but the universe changed my plans on a cold January 17th in 2007. A lady blew a stop sign with her car, totalling my car and I ended up with 3 fractures in my right wrist. I have lots of really cool permanent titanium screws in it now but also a limited range of motion. I can still play the violin but not at a level I used to.
Friends invited me to attend Ultra together, the very same year – post recovery. This is where I met couple rad British guys with whom we ended up having one of those deep late night talks. They planted the idea and convinced me I should try this DJ thing.
I tried it, loved it, and there was no turning back. I love electronic music! I always did. I’ve been going to the clubs forever. Plus think about it: us DJs always get to play new music compared to classical material, where we have a limited amount of composers from the last 300 years. Our instruments in the electronic world changes all the time, while in the classical world there is limited amount of quality instruments. A violinist will stay as a violinist playing a violin, but a DJ or an electronic artist – there are tonnes of new instruments and gear popping up each year. Also, I don’t mind sitting quietly for hours in an orchestra, but a nightclub with an epic VJ and LJ is hard to beat.
Where would you like to see yourself this time next year?
It would be really awesome if I could make the leap and do shows not only in America. I am also hoping to have a second album finished by the end of next year and do couple remixes for artists I love and respect.
On second thought… I mean, how forward can I be with my response to this question!
I am a go-go energiser bunny, work hard type of personality with an immigrant kid type of zest for life, fulfilment, and happiness. So the list where I would like to be is quite long. I would love to earn enough with music and art that I don’t need a daytime job, and naturally, I would love to see myself performing at festivals and clubs that I love and respect. However, I also have to be very realistic. I am an independent artist with her first album, in the electronic music sector. It’s a tough industry to be part of. I am already so thankful for all the support this album has gained, so anything beyond this is truly going to a gift.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
Oh wow! Its hard to just pick one!
I have to go Depesh Mode.
Dimensions is set to drop December 17th on Zettabyte Records