Mariam Rezaei

Upcoming Performances

released 9th sept on heatcrimes


Award-winning composer, turntablist and performer Mariam Rezaei approaches turntablism with an openness that's not just progressive, it's surprisingly optimistic. On 'BOWN', the central part of a triptych alongside 'BLUD' and 'SKEEN' (both released on Graham Dunning's Fractal Meat Cuts imprint), Rezaei reconsiders the established logic of turntable-based music, blurring expectations and persistently reaching into the unknown. In her capable hands the decks become chameleonic, imitating an arsenal of instruments that she subsequently bends into uncanny forms. Rezaei sees turntablism as a continuum rather than a fixed style, and she invites a carefully picked crew of collaborators - Theresa Winter, Luka Koenig, Alya Al-Sultani, Bobby Glue and Gwily Edmondez - to help distort genre hallmarks until they're completely unrecognizable; vocals become sputtering oscillators, drums are turned into walls of sheet noise and acidic electronics mutate into unstable, foggy drones.

Rezaei started DJing when she was just 15 years old, developing her skills in the competitive and male-dominated hip-hop battle arena. She began to realize that even in this fast-paced environment, the turntable was too often used as a vehicle to exercise a sequence of customary tropes. Inspired by art from across the

 genre spectrum, she developed her own unique language with the instrument, bringing in ideas from free improv and extreme noise to extend her palette. So she doesn't ask a question on 'it COULD be jazz', but makes a statement, replying tersely to a colleague's barbed comment after a performance at London Jazz Festival last year. Transforming wild horn squeaks into time-stretched gasps and scrubbed, chattering voices, and garbling drums from Guttersnipe's Bobby Glue into ratcheting whirrs, she assures listeners that jazz too is far more than a predetermined set of aphorisms. "How can I make the turntable sound as extreme as Roscoe Mitchell or Peter Brötzmann?" she wondered during an interview with Wire magazine in April.

YEAH YOU's Gwily Edmondez throws his self-styled "wild pop" vocalizations into Rezaei's continuum on 'GEORDIE SPICE', so she replies by juxtaposing his insectoid rasps with garbled West Asian chants and microscopic radio pop bleeps and beats. And traces of Grouper's vaporous articulations hang gently over unstable dancefloor vibrations on 'BURNING LIKE FUCK', situating the track a few steps from the club, outside in the smoking area or a nearby restroom. On 'I WANT U 2' meanwhile, Rezaei taps London-based soprano Alya Al-Sultani, scratching her operatic cries until they become chirps and cutting them into an abstracted conversation about the role of women in civilization. 'BOWN' is a confident, fervid statement from Rezaei that doesn't just burn up turntablism's presumed rulebook, it points a weary finger at an avant-garde landscape that still ignores the work countless women have put in to guide its progress. This is never more evident than on the tongue-in-cheek 'IDIOTIC MUSIC PEOPLE CUNTS', one-and-a-half minutes of garbled noise that throws a middle finger up to the industry, extending a warm embrace to the real ones.

 releases September 9, 2023 // Artwork by Sven Harambašić // Mastered by Declared Sound

Mariam Rezaei

Mariam Rezaei is a multi-award winning composer, turntablist and performer.   She previously led experimental arts project TOPH, TUSK FRINGE and TUSK NORTH, and in November 2022, received the Paul Hamlyn Foundation #AwardsForArtists in recognition of her contribution to music composition. Her music has recently been described as ‘genuinely ground-breaking’ (London Jazz News 2022) and ‘high-velocity sonic surrealism’ (4* The Guardian 2022). Recent releases include ‘BOWN’ on Heat Crimes, 'SADTITZZ' and ‘SKEEN'. Recent performances include Turntable Trio with Evicshen and Maria Chávez at Counterflows/ REWIRE 2023, and as soloist and co-composer of ‘6 Scenes for Turntables and Orchestra’ with Matt Shlomowitz for ICTUS/Frankfurt Radio Orchestra, for the final concert at IM Darmstadt 2023.

Recent collaborations include Joan La Barbara, Evicshen, Maria Chavez, Maggie Nicols, Black Top (Pat Thomas & Orphy Robinson), Lasse Marhaug, Rhodri Davies, Angharad Davies, Alya Al Sultani, Mette Rasmussen, Audrey Chen, Elaine Mitchener, Will Guthrie, Lukas Koenig, Julien Deprez, Kenosist, Gwilly Edmondez and Elvin Brandhi.

Upcoming performances include ‘Azadi/Freedom’ with London Sinfonietta at HCMF 2023; Tehran Contemporary Sound, Berlin; Another Sky, London; 6 Scenes for Turntables & Orchestra with Brussels Philharmonic/ICTUS Ensemble, Brussels, Antwerp & Glasgow; GIOFest 2023, Glasgow; Taipei Biennial 2023, Taiwan. 

Mariam presents a podcast on contemporary turntablism called ‘These Are The Breaks…’ and is guest DJ on’ Radical Scotland’ by Stewart Smith, both on ‘BOWN’, the third album in the triptych ‘BLUD : SKEEN : BOWN,’ is due for release, 2023.

Turntable Trio

Mariam Rezaei, Maria Chavez, Victoria Shen

Front cover of Wire Magazine, April 2023.  A power trio in New Turntablism.

"Receiving this award is truly an honour. Given the esteemed list of previous awardees, this award also serves as recognition for the turntable and its many achievements. The generous support of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation will allow me to invest time, dreams, and new experiments into my turntable compositions. It is a gift of space and support at a critical time in my career, where like many other artists, I am rebuilding my portfolio amidst the impact of the pandemic."

Mariam Rezaei, in response to receiving the Paul Hamlyn Foundation 'Awards For Artists', 2022

Weblink to full web article

'Mariam Rezaei is a mind-blowing English turntablist, and her practice bridges the ruff mix and hip-hop technique, loud and industrial music, free improvisation, dense bumblebees - in short, everything that constitutes the corpus of well-identified musical experiments from the past seventies years. …And that's the slam: noise, fury, crossfader mastery and scratch abuse, DMC World DJ Championships style, without being too much, with insane improvisational finesse and excessive ease….

...Layers of laments are superimposed for an epic and very sober finale, which ends just like that, without warning. I think that's what I like best about Mariam Rezaei: this way of being musically right at the junction between "too much" and "just enough", of implementing a paradoxically very tight maximalism, sometimes so much that it is austere, but never boring. And it is obvious that in concert, everything takes on an additional dimension, that of the musical gesture.'

Löic Ponceau - Musique Journal, France.

Full Article Here

She done it

Recent Press

The Guardian ****
"Then turntablist Mariam Rezaei, in her set, relished pummelling the debris of familiar melodic hooks and chords into a delirious mad-dash of high-velocity sonic surrealism."

London Jazz News " ..while extreme turntablista, Mariam Rezaei, pushed out an ultra intense, angry-face emoji, rapid-fire collage of sound layers and febrile, tactile interventions resolutely defying description - genuinely ground-breaking"

Wire Magazine, 470, April 2023
Cover Feature by Emily Bick
'...Mariam Rezaei is one of the most technically adept and creatively daring artists to use the turntable as a musical instrument.'

tusk festival 2019

in conversation :

with Derek Walmsley, Wire Magazine



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