Published Nov 21, 2008When youre one of the hottest names in dubstep, one of the last things advised would be to pull a 180 and release something as specific as a full-on rave album. But rising UK producer Zomby has done just that with his debut LP, breaking free from the dubstep circle that adopted him and earned him colossal buzz. Where Were U In 92? is pure throwback, the fulfilment of nostalgia that was obviously building up inside of him, because its also an absolute corker. Though he mixes up and even slightly modernizes what was kind of a one-dimensional music scene, Zomby stays as true as he possibly can to reliving that adrenaline-pumped moment of converging in a packed warehouses sea of fluorescence. Everything is equally measured: hasty break beats and impeccably timed breakdowns, soaring air sirens, dive-bombing sub-bass, soulful divas and mind-bending vocal samples, and the finest serving of 303s, 808s and 909s in 15 years. What Zomby has done here is give rave the kiss of life with a pair of scrupulously gifted lips. It may not have been what people were expecting or wanting from the mysterious producer but no matter which side of the fence you sit on, its hard to argue that this isnt the best rush felt in 2008.
What is it about rave that made you dedicate an album to it?
[From] 91 to 94, like the age of "old skool UK hardcore, is one of my favourite periods in music. Id always wanted to see if I could make songs with a real "old skool vibe and by the time I had a few the album was shaping up and it seemed itd be exciting to do something unexpected.
Why make your first full-length about rave, considering how many other influences you work with?
Well, it seemed to me to make sense to start with my most base influence of music for my debut album, although this isnt my debut album as such, in that its wholly representative of my entire sound palette. Its more a homage to the main inspirations for me as a kid at school and whatever. I remember record shops absolutely rammed and queues to pick up flyers even, the whole feel of that period was so exciting; the music reflected it 100 percent.
Do you think making an homage such as Where Were U In '92? needs any sort of explanation behind it that it is a concept of sorts?
Well, if you get it you get it. If you dont tough shit I guess. The music should be able to stand alone you know.
Was there a lot of preparation and/or digging needed to get all of the samples and sounds to make this record? How exactly did you go about putting it together?
Kind of. It was more about finding sounds and samples that were juxtaposed and would sit in the songs as doors in the wall. The obligatory piano riffs and breaks were of course always gonna be used but then I had to sift samples that werent too nostalgic and realign to make relevant now but feel kinda old skool.
What did you make of that "new rave" fad that was circulating a couple years ago?
I thought it was a in joke or maybe media push to brand something "new... I dunno., none of it sounded like anything by Noise Factory anyway.
As a fan of rave, did you feel there was any sincerity behind those artists using rave as a touchstone to essentially make pop music?
I dont know really. Klaxons refit of "The Bouncer was pretty cool. I thought theyre a great band. I dunno if theyre new rave or not.
Why release music anonymously?
Well, its never made sense to me to be inartistic or vulgar to present my music. Im not a Zomby salesman pushing a product. However I choose to represent myself is just a creative choice, although with the internet, now its almost impossible; its like a tightening noose from the moment you start to release music.
You're working with a bunch of different labels, like Werk, Hyperdub and Ramp. Do you try and make different music for different labels? And what do you get out of working with multiple labels?
Well I was a fan of all these labels before I began making music so now I have a chance to work with them its good, you know? Also I make so much music in different veins its good to have each represented well by people who understand the music and can, and also actually like the music, thats all hugely important.
What do you have lined up next? Will it be another homage? Another rave-influenced record? Something completely unexpected?
Hmm... Ive been working with Amen Brother the last three weeks so I [might] blast off a jungle album. Its fun working through different shit. Theres my EP dropping on Hyperdub in the next three weeks, a short limited run of Rumours and Revolutions on new label Brain Math. I have a twelve-inch coming on Ramp with a remix from L.V. on it, an EP coming on Cheap Thrills, and Diplo and me are working on some treats for next year for you guys. Theres more too but I forget, you know? (Werk)