The Samples of DJ Zinc

George Palladev 30.11.2021

The Samples of DJ Zinc

We continue to learn about the sources of inspiration of jungle and drum‘n’bass musicians. Without any words, requests or greetings, the YouTube channel Original Jungle Samples tells us what kind of instruments and voices we hear in our favourite tracks. Today—DJ Zinc.

“I used to spend all my money on records. I couldn’t afford a pair of decks because every time I saved up a little bit of money, there were just too many records I wanted to buy. The first time I ever played on a pair of Technics was when I got into a pirate radio station. I did pirate radio for seven years and through doing pirate I got contacted by a few promoters that asked me to come and play at their clubs. And I met somebody that had a recording studio. This was like ’91, ’92 and in those days, if you wanted to make a tune, you needed to know somebody that had a studio, or you had to have your own studio, or you had to hire a studio. There was no sort of home studio thing. I wanted to get into production and he didn’t have a car. So he said, if I drove him to this rave to give out some promos, he would let me use his studio for four pounds an hour.

So I did that, and I started making tracks, and a few promoters contacted me and asked me to come and play in their clubs. One of the big moments for me—and at the time I still worked full-time in an office doing filing and stuff, doing really rubbish. I worked there for years and I got one promotion in six years, it was terrible.

I liked hip-hop, I was listening to hip-hop before I was into drum‘n’bass, so I preferred that. So either way I was using samples. In 1995 I did a track called Super Sharp Shooter and a bootleg remix of Fugees, Ready or Not, which was quite a big drum‘n’bass tracks at the time. Those two tracks meant that I could leave my day job, just DJ and produce full-time. And from there I started a record label with two guys called Hype and Pascal, and the dog Snoop. We signed a deal with BMG as Ganja Kru, that was my first experience working with a major record label. So I released loads of drum‘n’bass 12″s and albums—not solo albums, but I’ve been part of albums—up until 2000.

Ganja Kru: Pascal, Dj Hype, dog Snoop, Dj Zinc. 1997

And in 2000 I did an EP. It was all drum‘n’bass, but there was one track that was like a breakbeat track, called 138 Trek, which surprisingly was 138 BPM, with Star Trek samples. Hence the name. So I did that track. When I did it, I sent it to loads of breakbeat DJs and nobody listened to it, but the kids on the pirate radio, the UK garage kids, started playing it. And it got really big, sort of organically, and then it was signed to a bigger label, went into the charts, and that made me realize I can do stuff at other tempos. And people would listen to it.

A lot of drum‘n’bass people were really supportive and said to me, Don’t stop making drum‘n’bass but it’s really good what you’re doing. So, I started doing breaks stuff then and I set up a label called Bingo. The idea for that label is that there ain’t no rules. If I want to release house or drum‘n’bass or breaks or whatever, I do. That’s been going since 2000 and there’s good bits and bad bits about owning the label.

Majors are arseholes in my experience, really. Generally, what they do, they’ll sign five or six acts at the same time and they see which one goes and they write off the rest. If you’re not the one that goes, it’s just hard. All they want is massive, instant success. They’re not interested in building and working and doing stuff. So, the last time I signed an album to a major, they released it but fucked it up so much that I ended up going down there. They paid me an advance, I did the album, I ended up going down there saying, I want it back. I’m going to release it on my own label and I want my copyright back and I’m not giving you the money back. And that’s it. And they did. Because they’re a bunch of idiots.”