Interview: ZDS on the London Clubbing Scene, Inspirations

Nathaniel Self (aka ZDS) is a London born DJ/Producer who has been around to see the London clubbing scene change quite a lot over the last 10 years. We caught up with him to discuss his thoughts, and also to tell us a little more about his new release ‘Rok Stuff’ that is soon to be released on seminal Swiss imprint, Hive Audio.

OTB: How was your winter? What was the highlight?

ZDS: Winter was cool, some shows etc etc. I made quite a few new tunes which made me happy. The highlight was probably finishing off an EP with Doorly.

OTB: How do you look back on your early years as a raver? How have your tastes changed since then?

ZDS: I started on Drum and Bass. So my taste has changed a lot. I still like some Drum and Bass every now and again – but it is a but too full on for me these days. I think that things have changed drastically since I first started going out. London used to be the world capital for clubbing and although there are still some great venues and parties in London, I just don’t think it’s the same. I try to never be backward looking  but I really do have fond memory’s of places like The End, Turnmills, Bar Rumba, Tea Bar and Plastic People, and I wish they were still with us.

OTB: So what sort of music did you grow up with then? And when did you become interested in house music?

ZDS: I grew up on all sorts. Everything from early rave to PJ Harvey.  I have been into music ever since I was about 11 and spent lots of time finding new and exciting music. I grew up in Brixton and listened to alot of the pirate stations so I was aware of house for a long time, but I got into house properly when I was about 20. Once I got into it I pretty much haven’t looked back. I don’t think there is anything better to dance to.

OTB: Was there one moment where you realized this is what you wanted to do then?

ZDS: I never really made the decision – I just liked playing and ran with it.  Simple as that!

OTB: So how did you learn to make music? Did you take classes? Or just through trial and error on your laptop?

ZDS: I spent a year with my computer spending every waking minute with the thing and learnt how to make tunes. When I started making music there wasn’t any YouTube videos telling you how to do stuff, I spent a long time with the Cubase manual.

OTB: How long did it take until you got to a stage where you were pretty assured with your sound?

ZDS: Hmmm, hard question. I think a couple of years in I was ok and had something, but I don’t think I will ever really be happy with what I’m making. I think there is always a better sound to be had or a new thing to be tried.

OTB: What other challenges are you faced with at the moment from a music point of view?

ZDS: I write very quickly when I’m in the groove but it can take days and days of headbanging to get that golden few hours so that’s definatly challenging.

OTB: When was the last time you heard a track that was really stunningly produced? What made it stick out for you?

ZDS: Ninetoes – ‘Finder’. I am very jealous of that sample. Also ‘Paint by Numbers’ by Throwing Snow – It has an incredible arrangement.

OTB: From that point of view, which track of yours was the biggest challenge to put together?

ZDS: ‘Righteous Sound’ damn near drove me mad. Omar is a absolute professional and becouse of that sent me around 50 vocal stems. By the time I had mixed them I already never wanted to hear the song again – I then had to do the structure of the rest of the song. It took me a while before I was proud of that song and had got over the pain of making it.

OTB: And when you’re coming up with a new track, what do you start on? The samples? The bassline? How does that all work for you?

ZDS: I pretty much always start with a beat. If you write a good beat every thing else will follow.

OTB: So can you explain your latest release to us a bit then? What was the vibe you were going for with it?

ZDS: ‘Rok Stuff’ was written when I came across all these great funk rock drum loops and I wanted to make a tune that had a kinda funk rock vibe to it but had none of the musical stinkyness associated with that.

‘Spun Out’ I actually wrote about four years ago and rediscovered it recently. I was gratified that people I really respect have been playing it loads (like Davide Squillace).

OTB: How did it come about you releasing on Hive Audio?

ZDS: I have played Hive (the club) quite a few times and know Adi and Sammy (The Hive bosses) really well. I have always loved their vibe in the club and label, so it was natural we should do an EP. I’m really happy to have done one with them.

OTB: What do you see as the future of your productions? Would you ever make music that’s not house and techno?

ZDS: I think I will just keep pushing and trying to make better music. I have made some stuff thats not house and techno and I dabble once in a while, but I also really like making house.

ZDS’s ‘Rok Stuff’ is out on Hive Audio on April 13th

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