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Zomby Interview

A catch up with the elusive, enigmatic producer...

Zomby has been breaking boundaries and transgressing borders on a almost monthly basis with a succession of beats that are impossible to pin down. Is he dubstep? Electro? Wonky? All or none of the above?

One thing's for sure - the mysterious London based producer is very much a product of now. In the latest issue of DJmag we turn the spotlight on one of the labels he cuts tracks for, Hyperdub Records (see the full article in issue 476) and had a rare opportunity to interview the secretive enigma...

How did you first discover Hyperdub Records?

"Slow gravitation I guess, probably through pirate radio, (Kode9's pre FWD show on Rinse FM) and generally what Kode9 had been moving towards musically was interesting from 'Tales From The Bass Side' to 'Sine Of The Dub'.

"This was a few years ago, after further investigation and Burial's 'South London Boroughs' the vibe was concrete to me, then meeting Kode9 and Burial for a debriefing, the rest is just the jigsaw falling into place."

Were you a fan of the label before you released a record on there?

"Of course, I'm still a massive fan."

Why is Hyperdub a suitable outlet for your musical vision?

"Well Kode9 curates his label I just keep sending him tracks really so I guess it's his vision from a patchwork of ideas around him with his narrative applied.

"Working with dissonance and various timings, experimental palettes and a host of assorted sources for sounds I think that I make music that isn't instantly acceptable as 'dubstep' or whatever the applied brand I'm not sure, so it's important for me to have someone hear the work correctly and understand what the songs are, some of the songs from my last EP Prada used for a catwalk campaign in Milan so I guess that the vision carries correctly this way and the way it's represented, I just work and send my work if I'm honest and this is all happening in real time so there's no time to analyse it from the front line."

Do you consider the music you make to be outside the bracket of what's normally considered to be dubstep?

"Yeah well I guess it's become that as the bracket of what 'dubstep' is considered to be shifts, but that's more about pretence of the brand or the genre. I put my faith in the people really, I know they feel after three minutes of a tune they're like 'wow this track needs a kick up the arse' you know, I feel the same about a lot of tunes. I try to create something that's more punchy and brief with a solid narrative you can instantly relate too or not of course, not everything is for everyone."

You never seem to stick to one style, is it important to you to dodge the pigeonholes?

"Yeah definitely, I think that's why they are there. If I was to sculpt I wouldn't carve the same form each time the same way, music is just the same. This is an action and an art and the two merge physically to create something you can manipulate in your own reference, once you figure out your own boundaries it begins."

More DJs and producers seem to be mixing up genres than ever at the moment – do you feel inspired by that, and is Zomby almost a product of that?

"In a sense and also not really because I've been here all the time too so when these things feel right they feel right, if it's contrived it won't work. I think cross genre DNA splicing is more about the internet and music software and the fact people have access so a lot more 'genres' globally the way its perceived."

You seem to be quite prolific, do you find creating tracks quite easy? How do you go about making tracks, do you go in with a vision or just experiment until you get em right?

"I do find it easy I guess, I can play riffs and choruses, chord progressions all day but it depends on what I want to do at the last minute really for Zomby.. . I'll leave everything so all options are open and then quickly lay down a idea, some songs I would work on certain elements further but most are finished pretty quickly, it has to be solid you know like a three minute intro is no good… You only need what you need and once that's in view you can refine it.

"I can spend two weeks on a epic song and make it do everything you want it to do and mix it down so well you can hear my parrot fart two rooms away but that's only highlights you know and really makes no difference to the artistic merit of the idea. Which is all that's needed to be conveyed really."

Are you working on new material for the label? How is it sounding?

"Yeah there's blueprints and microfilm in the safe, I can't reveal any information about the sonic aesthetic unfortunately."

Are there any plans to record another album (after the long EP and 'Where Were You In '92?') in the near future?

"Yeah I'm working on allsorts you'll be hearing soon enough, although I'm not doing anything like the 92 album again I don't think, I made about 400 songs that style but it was more of an experiment after finding my Atari ST in the loft at my dad's house one weekend but that will be pressed on limited picture disc vinyl this summer and then a full vinyl release later in the year."

What else have you got coming up (DJing, production, remix wise)?

"There's more Zomby coming on Brainmath, Hyperdub, Werk, Ramp, Domino, Mad Decent, Warp, allsorts of labels you know, I've done remixes for or am working on Animal Collective, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, Simian Mobile Disco and some others I can't release information on yet, I'm DJing all over the place like NYC and LA this June, then Paris, Prague... Fucking everywhere!

"I think I'm in Lisbon next week if any Noemie Lenoir lookalikes can make it down to the show it'll work out well.

"Shouts out to Alber Elbaz, Aldous Huxley, William Blake, Hedi Slimane, Tim Simenon, Ian Curtis and last but not least Normski."