Zen Death Squad. Besides being one of the bad ass names I’ve ever heard, Zen Death Squad are a group of Glitch Hop/Wonky producers comin’ out of southern England. I discovered them a few months back when I first heard their remix Roger Troutman’s Superman. I decided to get in touch with them.
Abandon Silence (AS): Who is Zen Death Squad and how and when did it come in to fruition?
Zen Death Squad (ZDS): Zen Death Squad are three producers; Screenager, Halogen and Z-Whip. We all come from different musical backgrounds, but all started out in live bands, playing various instruments. We came up with the idea in the summer of 2008, after being inspired by the sound of the US West Coast Hip Hop scene that was blowing up around that time. Originally there were five of us, and it all started with a track called Awesome Patrol, which we all kind of threw at each other across the internet for a couple of months. As it developed, three of us took a more active interest and things went from there.
AS: Awesome Patrol, haha, what a title. How does the writing process go? Is there a process? What does your studio consist of?
ZDS: We use quite a lot of different stuff in the studio. A bunch of old amps, basses and guitars, a load of pedals and samplers. As for software, we use a combination of Logic, Cubase and Ableton Live.
As for writing process, there's no specific starting point. We generally just jam until we find something we like and build it up from there.
We play a lot of video games in the studio which inspire us musically. We feel our music is a cross pollination of Time Crisis and Sonic 2.
AS: Haha! Sounds like quite an organic process. If you could choose a Nintendo 64 or Xbox 360, what would it be?
ZDS: We are Megadrive till death.
AS: Haha, didn't see that one comin’! How do you guys play out? CDJs, Ableton, Serato...
ZDS: We like to keep things as live as possible. We only started playing shows this summer, so it's been a constant learning experience and we try to push things further with each set. We currently run Ableton Live with a couple of keyboards and a variety of other midi controllers. We're actually about to purchase more gear, so there'll be a bunch of new stuff integrated for the new year.
AS: Looking forward to it. What are your opinions on the student protests at the moment & the whole Con-Dem government in general?
ZDS: We all have our own views on it. It's been good to see people get motivated and organised enough to protest effectively. One thing we can all agree on is that David Cameron's face looks like it is made of runny cheese.
AS: Hahahaha! If you guys where to have cheese on toast would it be red, yellow or green cheese?
ZDS: Good question. After much consultation we have decided that no cheese is bad cheese. As long as it's cut in the shape of a triangle.
AS: Good answer. I am a cheddar and brown sauce on toast man myself.
What are your views on the electronic music scene right now? Particularly Dubstep, Wonky & Glitch Hop...
ZDS: It's a strong field right now. Everybody seems to be stepping up their game. It's great to see the sounds coming out all over the world, with everyone putting their own ideas and to a certain extent their cultural heritage into the music. There are people like Spoonbill in Australia, Eskmo in the States and Rustie over here in the UK who are creating incredible music, taking the sound in crazy new directions. The UK seems to be warming to the Glitch Hop sound and we are a excited to see what emerges from it.
AS: Spoonbill makes the craziest music! Who or what do you think played an important role in Glitch Hop in 2010 and who or what do you think everyone should keep their eye on for 2011?
ZDS: There have been so many highlights this year, to list a few: The Glitch Mob at Matter on the UK's best sound system. The proto-funk of Debruit. Guys like Flako and Comfort Fit with great records out there. Flying Lotus' Cosmogramma. Nosaj Thing at Plastic People in London was out of this world. iLL Gates also, through his music and his support for the community with his Ableton seminars.
As for next year, watch out for Virtual Boy from the States and Jai Paul from the UK.
AS: What can we expect from Zen Death Squad in 2011? Also, where the hell did the name come from?
ZDS: The name was actually suggested by a good friend and awesome dubstep producer we know.
2011 is looking pretty exciting. We're in talks to get some releases out there, both here and in the States. And after that, just a lot of shows. We just confirmed our first performance in Bristol for 2nd Feb, so are very excited to be heading to new places after a summer of festivals. Trying to line up some US shows for around March/April time, and then who knows? We'll have to see where we end up.
You can check out Zen Death Squad here:
Keep an eye out as they will be releasing a new free track for Christmas!