Ezra Selga, known professionally as Arzenn, has had a rather diverse upbringing. Born in the Philippines, he also lived in Singapore for seven years, before moving to finish high school in Wagga Wagga, country New South Wales.
Now, at the age of twenty, Arzenn finds himself residing in Melbourne, as a result of being accepted to study at Melbourne University.
Whilst he admits he prefers Melbourne to Wagga, he does believe that the culture shock that came with moving from city to country, and then back to city, has influenced his music.
“It was still quite a big shock to me.. and [it] took a lot of getting used to. I’m very much influenced by my surroundings and environment, especially architecture and landscapes. Just being surrounded by it and meditating or doing nothing. It took a while to get used to the country, and then when I came back here (to Melbourne), it was quite natural to come back to the city, I think.”
Moving to Melbourne has proven to work out in Arzenn’s favour, as he praised the accessibility and the culture of the music scene. Arzenn found himself growing his exposure as an artist and building connections that have helped him get to where he is today.
“I met a couple of DJs through my teachers. I joined Your Shot, which is a DJ competition. I still wasn’t really into the form of DJing, of just playing songs in a club.
I got runner up on the day (of the Your Shot competition), and that’s where I met my current managers- Anthony and Christina. Since then, I rereleased one song I made in high school, Sonder, and also released Kaleidoscope. That’s what I’ve released so far. I’ve got four different songs at about 90% completion. So that’s where I am at at the moment.”
Kaleidoscope, which has since been released on Triple J Unearthed, is a prime example of the environment, and also Arzenn’s surroundings, influencing his music. As he revealed, the cover art for the song is based off of a viewing point on a mountain in Tasmania, which he was inspired to create after revisiting holiday photos. Using a new version of his production software, Ableton, he sat down and the whole thing came together.
“I was back in Wagga visiting family and friends, and I just sat down in my bedroom and played around with the software, with those things and that environment in mind. I kept working on it for hours and hours and got most of the instrumental done.”
The song also reflects Arzenn’s current intended brand. This is based on, and in particularly his own, transition from a young boy into an adult who still hasn’t quite worked out the path he’s going down just yet.
“I had that mindset of the gap between high school and university, just that time where you know you’re going to leave your friends and family and you’re just going around places, spending that time together. I wanted to encapsulate that in that song.”
He credits the fact that he’s taken multiple majors in his university degree already as an influence in this uncertainty. This is no surprise; however, when Arzenn begins to open up about his high school days in Wagga and admits to having multiple hobbies and multiple skill sets, saying that it’s natural for him to delve quickly, and deeply into hobbies.
“At the end of year 9 or 10, I was really into electronic music, particularly the heavy stuff. Obviously during that time dubstep was a big thing, and of course, little high school me wanted to make “whoop whoops”.
With music production, it just kept going. If you’d asked me if I’d thought about music production as a fulltime career before I got into it, I’d say probably not. My life has changed course since I got into music and started doing it seriously.”
Now, if you’d ask him to describe his sound, he’d say it’d be less “whoop whoops” and “mostly electronic music, mostly indie pop.”
With both his mindset and sound having changed since he was sixteen, one particular year 12 assignment allowed him to keep making music and growing as an artist, especially during such a busy year.
“During high school, for my year 12 major, it was a design technology major, and we could really do whatever we wanted. So what I did was design my own concert, with my own personal music. It was year 12, I knew I was going to be very busy, and I still wanted to make music, so I made that an excuse to keep making music. For school. That got me stressed, but I’m surprised it didn’t burn me out from making music, and I’m still very passionate about it.”
Having only now been a few years out of high school, Arzenn admits he’s still learning the ropes; however, when it comes to both performing and networking. He says he normally leaves the networking to his management team, “they know how the social stuff works!” As far as performing goes; however, the RSOM Live Show will be only the fourth time he performs his current works.
Despite this, the last gig he played was bigger than expected.
“The last gig was hosted by my family friend. She’s a Filipino event manager. It was for two very big artists from the Philippines, and I didn’t realise how big they were until I looked them up. They have almost a million followers, and they’re like the winners of well The Voice Philippines, I guess. I supported them, and it was a really different experience from other gigs, as this was a full-on stage show.”
Being an electronic artist, and still getting used to performing, I did have to ask Arzenn about his setup, as it’s different to most of the setups of our RSOM Live featuring artists. When asking him if he was bringing his full setup for the show, I was met with a nod and a “most definitely.”
He was one step ahead of me; however, saying he had thought it through and had it all planned out, even for the other interviews that were to follow.
“My setup is quite comprehensive, it’s pretty big. But when I got the details for SYN 1700, I had the idea of doing a mini performance on there. So instead of having the full setup, I’ll just have the one launchpad and the keys. So it’s not as heavy, and it’s very easy to carry around. I was working on that (the setup) right before I came here (to the interview), and almost lost track of time.
“As a result, I never really go out busking or anything like that. If I’m supporting somebody it’s like the massive case and I bring everything.”
And whilst he admitting to struggling to network, he did happen to mention that he had recently seen one of the other RSOM artists, and had approached them about collaborating in the near future.
“I actually met Tyller, she was opening for a friend’s gig. And I was like ‘You’re really cool, can I collaborate with you?’ We’re working on something at the moment. Hopefully it’s done before the concert, that’d be really cool to have.”
With the rest of the university year, the RSOM Live Show, and the potential of releasing new music, Arzenn has a jampacked remainder of 2018. Saving his money for more equipment for music production, there is no doubt; however, that his intention is to create more music.
“I don’t really know at the moment, since university’s quite busy, but I’ll be finished with that by November. After that, I think I’m going to work hard on my music and finish off the songs that I have that are almost done. I want to finish those songs and I’ll probably release one of them, hopefully, and then next year I’ll do more. I just have long breaks in between my release sessions, just whilst I’m doing a bunch of stuff.”
Arzenn will be performing at the Real Songwriters of Melbourne Live Show, taking place on October 13 at Wick Studios, Brunswick. You can purchase tickets here.
Written by Jordyn Hoekstra