Zombie Disco Squad (ZDS) first arose in the mid-noughties, when two DJs — Nat Self and Lucas Hunter — started throwing parties in various West London venues, at the Social in central London, and at places like Catch and On the Rocks in east London's Shoreditch. Mixtapes and early boompty tracks such as 'Straight Boy' helped spread their name like a virus, and even though ZDS has slimmed down to just Nat now, the quest for world domination has continued apace.
When DJ Mag starts chatting with Nat, he rues the fact that Shoreditch has a lot less going on clubbing-wise these days.
“The night at On the Rocks was fun, though,” he beams. The name Zombie Disco Squad was plastered all around London in garish day-glo colours, conjuring up visions of a swarm of undead disco dollies luring people to a life of vice. In reality, now that it's just Nat, and given the fact that he makes cheeky boompty house rather than deathcore terror-tech, we ask him if the ZDS name has been a help or a hindrance. “Oooof, that's a hard one,” he says. “Hard to say, really. People either really like the name or really hate it — so I guess both. I am trying to use the initials mainly now, because I'm a bit bored of the full length thing — it's a bit of a mouthful.”
An early remix for Jesse Rose indirectly led to Nat becoming a resident at Jesse's Made To Play nights at Panorama Bar in Berlin. “This meant that I played every second month for two years,” he says. “I have to say that they remain some of the best shows I've ever played. I was out in Berlin again for the New Year just gone, and man does that city party.”
He's spent periods in Berlin since, but reckons the winters are too brutal to live there full-time. “I'm playing with the idea of doing Berlin for the summer and Barcelona for the winter this year,” he says. “Jesse moved to LA about two years ago, but we do hang whenever either of us is in the same city — which is quite a lot. He's a good friend.”
After three EPs on Dirtybird, he also counts Claude VonStroke as a friend. “The excitement of receiving an email saying the tracks are signed to Dirtybird has yet to diminish,” he smiles.
'Bang Ze Box' from his last Dirtybird EP — a dirty house track with a boompty bassline — he reckons is the best record he's ever written. “I hope that my sound will continue to evolve but will keep sounding like me. The new stuff I'm writing has a similar flavour.”
Given the boompty nature of 'Bang Ze Box', it's perhaps no coincidence that Nat's also down with the Classic Records crew — Luke Solomon, Derrick Carter etc — and was asked to mix the 'Through the Eyes Of' comp for the label last year. “I LOVE Classic,” he froths. “It's such an incredible label, so it was a massive honour. It was a pretty daunting task, there really is so much good music in their back catalogue. Choosing the songs to mix took a couple of weeks alone.”
Nat is now doing an EP for Heidi's Jackathon — “I really like what Heidi is about, and the label is really on-point” — and “writing some stuff with some other exciting artists. Busy and happy covers it.”