Zed Bias has done it all. One of the original exponents of the dark garage sound that laid the foundations for dubstep, a UKG don under the Maddslinky moniker and a Hospital Records-signed D&B producer, Zed’s career spans the evolution of UK club music over the last 15 years.
Now enjoying life as one of the driving talents behind the unstoppable Swamp81 movement, November saw the release of his aptly titled ‘Boss’ album for Loefah’s zeitgeist-seizing imprint, so Trap grabbed a few moments with the man himself to see what makes him tick…
You’re seen by many as one of the key figures in the birth of dubstep. Back in 2002, when you were a resident at FWD>>, could you have foreseen what was to come?
This is a much-debated thing. I know that the people responsible for ‘inventing’ dubstep used to come to FWD>> as young producers and were inspired to go do their own thing. At the time, I just wanted to play garage dubs and push the envelope with basslines being the main part of the track.
You come from the old school in terms of production. What do you prefer about modern technology – and what do you wish was still the same?
I prefer producing in 2013 to 1994; everything was a struggle back then. I do prefer the sound quality we had back in the 1990s, though. It was gritty and warm.
Your forthcoming album, ‘Boss’ is coming out via Swamp81. What does releasing for that label and Loefah mean to you?
It means a lot to be in the Swamp camp. Me and Loe are kindred spirits. We come from a similar place musically. I will keep recording albums for Swamp for as long as I’m allowed to.
‘Boss’ is also significant because it’s only the second ever album to be released on Swamp81…
That’s right. Initially, the album was going to be an EP, but it grew organically into what it is. I’ve never released a four-pack of vinyl before, not even in the heyday of vinyl sales. I love that we are doing this in 2013, years after the supposed death of vinyl.
The album artwork is something special too, shot by Will Bankhead…
Will Bankhead is a don in his own right. I am honoured to have him making my covers for Swamp81.
‘Boss’ draws on a broad range of your musical influences. Who would you say were some of your key influences?
Steve Gurley, DJ Krust, LTJ Bukem, Airto Moreira, Roy Ayers and Herbie Hancock.
You’re also behind the latest track from Scrufizzer, ‘Kick It’, how did that come about?
Cameo, who is Scru’s manager gave me a call and said that Scru had written over one of my beats. He sent me the acapella and I made ‘Kick It’. Scrufizzer is going to be massive.
How do you stay passionate about music?
I love music. I have to limit how much current music I listen to, as I would be overwhelmed with ideas! I listen to 1Xtra in the motor to keep abreast of what’s going on, but, mainly, I try to get my inspiration in the club when I’m DJing.
You’re also working on your new record label, Biasonic, how’s that going?
It’s going really well. We have a various-artists EP being released before Christmas that includes music from myself, Almost, Tom Shorterz, Foreign Concept, Roy Davis Jr, Given, Fox, Murlo, Samrai and Beat Corporation.
You’ve got Roy Davis Jr and Chunky as features on ‘Boss’, what was it that made you want them on the album?
Chunky is my mate from Manchester and we have shared ideas for a few years, so including him on the album was a no-brainer. The track from Roy and I came about when we recorded for a week earlier this year. He’s a great guy to work with. He’s now Uncle Roy to me.
Are there any new acts coming through that you’ve got your eyes on?
Almost, Fatty Who, Trigga and Grace Love.
You’ve got an impressive remix history, is there anyone you’d really like to remix that you haven’t yet?
Not really. I remixed Whitney Houston back in the day with Steve Gurley and that was probably as big as you can get, especially at the time. I love remixing pretty much anything to be honest. It’s still my favourite part of my job.
What do you make of the resurgence in the UK garage sound?
I love that there’s a fresh generation of garage ravers. I never thought at the time that our music would still be played in clubs over a decade later!
‘Neighbourhood’ is arguably still your biggest track, did you ever think it would reach Number 25 back in 2000?
No, I thought it would go top ten, to be honest! XL were convinced too and pressed up 80,000 CD singles. There are currently 55,000 in the store cupboard in their offices.
What can we expect to see from Zed Bias in the near future?
Well, I have a few remixes hitting the street before Christmas (for Illum Sphere, Champion, Skindred, Little Nikki) and a collaboration with Terror Danjah under the name BND. I’m playing some huge gigs soon in the UK and have a small tour of Australia in December. It’s never been busier.
Zed Bias’ album ‘Boss’ is out now on Swamp81.