Filed under: Interview
With all of Tokyo’s dance music fans eagerly awaiting the arrival of the UK’s newest superstar DJ, James Zabiela, who on the 11th of June will be bringing his own form of genre pushing Tech-house to the CDJ1000’s at Womb, higher-frequency managed to get in touch with the Pioneer man to talk tech, to let us know about his latest album, his thoughts on Ibiza 2005 and what is in store for the future.
Interview by H.Nakamura (HigherFrequency)
HigherFreuquency (HRFQ) : It was your first gig in Japan last year, this time will be second. How do you feel this time compared to last year ?
James Zabiela : More excited and eager to play than ever, because last time was so much fun and I know what to expect this time.
HRFQ : I think you will once again play your set with Pioneer’s DVJx1s as you did last year. We really enjoyed seeing what you tried to achieve with such amazing technology, however being right after the gear was released, it was as if it was still kind of the beginning of your experiment with it, A year since then, assuming that you have discovered more of the equipment, what can we expect to “SEE” and “HEAR” on WOMB’s dance floor this time?
James : Actually, I won’t be using the DVJs this time. I’m concentrating on my music at the moment so I’ll have the new EFX1000 and also the new mixer, the DJM1000 both at my disposal. Womb is only one of the few clubs to have this mixer at present as it’s brand new. DVJ’s are fun to do but I want to keep them as something to do every now and again to stop it from becoming stale. You have to make video’s for all the track which can dictate what you play sometimes and the music is what’s important this weekend. The mixer has a digital link to the EFX via a special cable meaning I can control the effects with cross-fader opening a range of possibility’s. They were made to work in unison and I have this set up at home due to my connection in the development of these tools so it’s really gonna be a real luxury for me have this in a club. I’ll also be using my sound byte sampler for total deconstruction!
HRFQ : Are you going to bring Vinyl to Tokyo this time? Does Vinyl still mean a lot on your decks?
James : Vinyl is everything, I buy more records than ever but I put them all on CD! I hurt my back recently so I just have my Effects Unit, CDs and a sampler with me.
HRFQ : For the Japanese fans who will see your performance for the first time, how would you explain your DJing style?
James : Acid House & Breaks with melodic elements and Techno with some Sci-fi elements thrown in!
HRFQ : Talking about your latest Mix CD, Alive 2- Utilities, it is said you just mixed the album with Ableton Live for Disc 01, while using 3 CD decks, samplers and EFX units for Disc 02. Can you explain in a bit more detail about how the mixes were recorded using those new technologies?
James : Well, without going into too much detail Disc one was an experiment for me in Ableton using various plug-ins and lots of editing and re-constructing of tracks to really build a final piece that flowed and made sense… I wanted to prove to myself that I could get a similar result using EFX & samplers. Hardware instead of software for the second disc using my ears and my own sense of pitch instead of the computers midi clock. It was really a test to get good results with both and to say “it doesn’t matter what media you’re using as long as the picture that gets painted is as good as it can be”. For a truly live experience I still feel performance wise real mixing and real-time effects are where it’s at for me at least.
HRFQ : Your recent EP also had a title “Utilities”. Is this going to be a kind of your regular project name like Dave Seaman’s Therapy or Sasha’s Fundacion?
James : This will be my last commercial mix CD for a while so I don’t know what’s next.
HRFQ : What is the concept behind this?
James : Utilities is about using everything to get a good final result as well as a personal test to see what I was able to achieve with different approaches to DJing.
HRFQ : In your last interview with us, you unveiled that you were running the label ‘Hearing Aid’, secretly. Do you still get involved in its operation? Or are there any other labels you are currently working on or with?
James : Yes we’re about to release a new track soon…. and I just put out my own ‘Utilities EP’ with Renaissance as collaboration with Hearing Aid. It’s still a label I want to keep in the background though. I don’t want to be an A&R man and have to put out ten releases a year. Just every once in a while so I can concentrate on what I love. Performing! I’ll leave the labels running to the experts.
HRFQ : We assume Ibiza has meant a lot to your career. What’s your Ibiza in 2005 going to be like?
James : Great!!!! I cannot wait… last year was a bit weird for me for various reasons but this year I’m very confident that I finally have an idea about what I’m doing! You can always learn and improve. This year I’ll be playing at Space on Sundays as a resident and also guesting with Sasha at Fundacion on one of the Thursdays there.
HRFQ : Are there any projects in the pipeline such as single releases or your first studio album?
James : Erm, my single just came out last week..! It’s an EP with loads of DJ tools on too for budding mixers. You can download it from beatport.com or buy the vinyl or CD from all good stores 😉 It’s called ‘The Utilities EP’ and features a new track of mine called ‘Robophobia’, something silly that I am proud of.
HRFQ : Last year, you seemed to have really great time in Akihabara (world famous electronics town). Are you into discovering more places in Tokyo this time, or are you going to focus your shopping in Akihabara again?
James : Kindly the guys from Pioneer have offered again to take me around ‘Robot shopping’ Haha!!! I cannot wait, Tokyo such an inspiring place and has another worldly quality compared to where I live (Southampton, UK).
End of the interview
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