It seems common, and maybe sometimes silly, for Drum and Bass producers to get lumped into merely one category of what is in fact quite a diverse genre of music. Though often being branded with the “Liquid” tag, it only takes a listen to his massive back catalogue to hear the dark and rugged fundamentals much loved on dance floors around the world, some dating back to even his earliest released material. Make no mistake: Zero T is a jack of all trades Drum and Bass wise.
“I guess as a producer you are always critical of your own work, but it’s only in the last 2 years that I feel I can really represent the ideas in my head into sound. Ive always approached music from a intuitive perspective, rather than a technical one and I think that shows in my 1st body of work (i.e. the LP).” When setting out to make the Cheap Shots LP, what is quite possibly his most demonstrative work to date, Zero T’s main goal was to show that he was, above all, a Drum and Bass Producer. In his own words, “One sound, many styles.”
For those who weren’t there to remember, back in 2001, Reinforced was responsible for giving a lot of newer artist the opportunity to reach a much wider audience (Sonic & Silver, Breakage) and Zero T was right there with production partner Beta 2. What started innocently as Beta2’s girlfriend bigging up the boys tunes to none other than Digital, Stretch and MC MG at an after party in
Clearly not one to steal the glory for only himself, Zero T is known for being in the studio with different artists at any given time, a process he insists has been both positive and beneficial. “I think music making is all about getting a good vibe going in the room you’re in. If you have an affinity with another artist, and you get on well - it's a really good experience doing collabs! It’s also how I’ve learned nearly every technical aspect of production.”
The Cheap Shots LP features pairs Zero T with heavyweights such as Bailey, Alix Perez, and favourite Beta 2, among others. Shining in the spotlight alongside him is vocalist Steo, whose versatility and delivery make him an artist you will surely be hearing more about. “He produces incredible beats himself, this was how I discovered he could sing the way he can. On one of his loops was this entrancing falsetto vocal. I called him immediately to ask where he got it…it was him singing into him mum's PC.”
It was their first session which resulted in “Refusal” and solidified the working relationship between the two, and for this LP currently. “I think most producers who've been around a while get to the point where sampling vocals gets tired. I’ve been so lucky with STEO. Recording your own unique vocals somehow gives the tunes more value. The human voice is the most evocative instrument!” Steo is also a member of the Hip Hop trio Infomatics who just released their own LP.
Total Science’s C.I.A have been putting out releases for Zero T since 2001, so it’s not surprising that they offered (and he accepted) to release Cheap Shots. Their continuing working relationship has gone past just that, and has formed effectively into good friends that are more than happy to work together on a professional level. Who else could tell you the TRUTH about Q-Project’s hair (“Its not real…it's a helmet! I swear!!”) or the benefits of a solid working relationship between artists, labels and friends. “Another consideration was creative control,” he says, “which knew I would be given by the lads, even down the artwork. That freedom was certainly appealing for a debut LP.”
The rest of 2008 shows no signs of slowing down for Zero-T and the LP is really only just the beginning of a string of releases coming this year. Be on the lookout for Dillinja and Lemon D remixes for V Recording, an EP for Integral (including a Calibre remix of Refusal. Whoa!), remixes of Q-Project, J.Ralws + Middle Child, Atlantic Connection and Specific and Sabre. And if that isn’t enough, you can watch out for the debut 12” on V with Steo and Calibre. “If I find time in between all that, I will launch my own imprint towards the end of the year; BARE MINIMUM Music.” Given his back catalogue, one does not doubt that he will find the time to complete it all. Possibly more.Words: SOS
Competition: Win a copy of 'Cheap Shots'
To get your hands on a copy of Zero T's debut album for Total Science's CIA Recordings, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org with the words "zero t competition" in the subject heading. We promise not to send you any emails telling you you've won the lottery, but we may email you with Drum & Bass related information.