Zero T started out back in 1998 as a fresh-faced youngster at Dublin’s now legendary Bassbin night. In late ’99, just as his vinyl debut was dropping on the Bassbin imprint, 4hero signed some tracks that he and Beta 2 had made for Reinforced.
By 2001 releases were coming thick and fast on labels like Subtitles, Commercial Suicide, Function, Signature and Advanced and he was collaborating with producers such as Calibre, Alix Perez, Icicle, Bailey and vocalists like MC Conrad, Riya and Steo. Zero T moved to London in 2007 and released his debut album, Cheap Shots, on Total Science’s CIA imprint in 2008.
After touring extensively right through to early 2009, Zero is now plotting his next steps. This includes releases on Subtitles, Shogun Audio, Good Looking, Liquid V and Integral, remixes of Slam’s ’93 techno classic Positive Education and up-and-coming bands One eskimO and All Thieves and launching his own label, Footprints. We spoke to Zero T to get the latest…
You’re starting your own label Footprints, why now?
Probably the fact that I’m 30 this year! It was like a goal in life in general. Whatever I was doing, I wanted to be my own man by the time I’m 30.
Also, I love the fact that I can now sign anything I want and put it out. I just want to build up trust and make it a ‘buy-on-sight’ label as soon as possible. I want Footprints to cement my position in the drum & bass landscape as I still love the music so much.
Tell us more about the format of the “split” 12″s…
The format will generally be me on one side and someone else on the other. It means I only have to make one track per release and then I’ve got options for all sorts of tracks, from either well-established friends or new producers, I really don’t care.
I’ll be trying to hit as many different levels with each 12″. I want them to be balanced. I want one side to be what I consider something that’s going to hurt a club and the flip might do the same or it could be just a piece of music I think is good that you may not even be able to play in a club. I hate all the subcategories in drum & bass but it’s a natural inclination to group stuff together.
I used to love the whole ‘anything goes’ attitude in drum & bass in the 90s and I want to do my bit to get it back. I think electronic music, in general, is reverting back to the late 80s / early 90s unity when it was just viewed as dance music. The whole cross-pollination with dubstep and the fact you have dubstep guys playing and making stuff at 170bpm and vice versa is great.
The more it all becomes blurred, undefinable UK bass music the better. People are now making music that you can’t even say what it is any more but it doesn’t matter because it’s just a good tune. It’s really exciting at the moment.
Why the name Footprints?
I was racking my brain for a long time for a good label name and it’s hard. You need to be sure that it’s a word, concept and identity that you’re comfortable with when you’re 50. I’ve already got a name I picked when I was 15 that’s slightly embarrassing!
With Footprints though, I was coming back from the shops with Jubei and it had been snowing. I looked down and saw a footprint and that was it. I did the logo in my house with a bucket of black paint, a volunteer’s foot and a piece of paper.
Tell us more about your forthcoming releases on other labels…
I have 12″s with Need For Mirrors coming on Liqweed Ganja and Shogun Ltd, Tilt and Vanity respectively. There’s going to be a remix 12″ on CIA from my album which has my remix of Walk Away and an Ulterior Motive remix of Robots, the tune I did with Bailey. However my main release is the All Good Things EP on Subtitles.
Apart from establishing Footprints my main goal for 2010 is to change people’s perceptions of me being a just liquid DJ / producer. Subtitles is a label I had releases on ages ago and I wanted to return because it’s got such a good reputation. People associate whatever TeeBee puts out with a certain sound and it definitely isn’t liquid. I really want people to know that if you’re booking Zero T or buying a Zero T track don’t always expect it to be liquid.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that style of course, it’s just that I’ve done it to death and I’ve had enough of it for now. I just feel a bit saturated with that sound. My attitude now is I want to rock dancefloors as much as possible and not compromise my musical integrity.
What else do you have planned for the rest of 2010?
I’ve just signed on to do a mix for a very big compilation series, can’t reveal too much just yet but I’m very excited about it.
Apart from that, I’m using this year to teach myself how to produce music other than drum & bass because it takes a lot of trial and error to get good at anything. I’m working on a bunch of projects of all different kinds of music and tempos with different artists and vocalists, live stuff as well. It feels a bit like starting all over again.
Tell us about the mix you’ve done for us…
It’s a Footprints showcase so I’ve put on as much music that’s coming on Footprints as possible but it’s a fairly accurate representation of me playing a drum & bass set. I tried putting as much fresh material on there but that’s not always my approach when I play out.
For instance, the first two tunes are from the 90s and I love dipping back into that era and picking out tunes. Recently I’ve been playing Grooverider’s remix of Share The Fall and more than once some young guy has told me it’s amazing and wanted to know what it is. I don’t buy into the whole drum & bass thing of you have to play the freshest stuff all the time and I think that is dying out a bit as well.
Doing these type of mixes is quite difficult as you have to put on certain tracks because you want to promote your brand. I never have a plan when I’m DJing live, what I do is practice a few good intros to draw people in and then I just freestyle it and see what happens.
Everything But The Girl ft. J Majik – Blame [Virgin]
Doc Scott – Swarm [Metalheadz]
Breakage ft. Kemo – Tempa [Digital Soundboy Dubplate]
Zero T + FD – After All [Subtitles All Good Things EP]
Ulterior Motive, FD + Keza – Sticky Tape [Dubplate]