Warping Reality with Tzara in ‘Slumber with a Key’.

3Q’s with Tzara as they drop the key to unlocking inspiration in their latest EP.

The thing about reality is that it’s different for everyone. In lockdown, many of us were forced to confront ours, including musician Tzara. The creative product of their confinement? An EP concocted in between the realms of sleep and awakeness, otherwise known as ‘hypnagogia’. Slumber with a Key “is a conceptual project about hypnagogic hallucinations, struggles with mental health, and the nature of reality”, they say.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve experienced strange illusionary phenomena, including hypnagogic hallucinations (often auditory and orchestral in nature) hypnopompic hallucinations (sleep paralysis), as well as an extraordinarily vivid dream life.”

“I was sleeping at odd hours, losing track of days, eating sporadically and struggling to cling to the ‘real’.”

Slumber with a Key is self-described as “quite a mixed bag genre-wise. It ranges from experimental soundscapes to downtempo, trip-hoppy pop”. The title was inspired by Salvador Dali’s method of finding inspiration in hypnagogia, where he would ‘slumber with a key’. “The noise of the key falling would wake him before his surreal ideas slipped over the ridge of consciousness”, Tzara explains.

In it, the musical alchemist sticks to their experimental roots – but this offering feels distinctly different. While Tzara has enjoyed the freedom that comes with lurking “on the fringes of South Africa’s underground music scene” as they say, this EP signifies a new era in the artist’s musical journey. Perhaps it’s a symbol of an awakening occurring in the scene, in a time when the scene is being forced to face a new reality itself.

On the brink of its release this Friday, 14 August, Three Mag asks Tzara 3 quick questions.

How did the pandemic affect this album, therefore your mental health and perception of reality?

#OOOF. I went through a seriously dark dip in my mental health for about 2 months. I was sleeping at odd hours, losing track of days, eating sporadically and struggling to cling to the “real”.

I actually started writing a comic book that kind of served as the conceptual inspiration behind the EP. The protagonist was someone who could tap the source code of the simulation via a hallucinatory glitch of sorts. I was definitely losing it a little. 😂

You pushed for local support of artists during this time, encouraging fans to buy on Bandcamp Fridays for example. How else can fans keep supporting musicians?

If you must use streaming services, use them for discovering new music. If you genuinely like an artist, and want to support what they do, head on over to Bandcamp or similar and actually BUY THEIR MUSIC. Even if it’s just one song. Every drop of care counts. It keeps the lights on, and the fire of inspiration stoked during this cold and lonely time.

If you were forced to, by a sleep paralysis demon, to choose a favourite, which would that be and why?

They all have a special place in my heart, but “We’re All Just Walking Each Other Home” makes me cry and I like that.

PRE-SAVE Slumber with a Key


Images: Album art and images by Hana Jayne Sho.