Feast on Zombie Disco Squad's Brains
What is Nat Self’s favorite zombie flick? “Sex and the City 2. The blank, cold brutality of the undead in that film is frankly terrifying."
It’s a tough call, trying to picture what tunes the undead will be shaking their skeletal rumps to when they rise up from the ground, but our money is on the infectious booty-house of the aptly named Zombie Disco Squad – the moniker of one Nat Self.
The ZDS journey began in 2006, with Nat and then-fellow zombie Lucas Hunter emerging from and then riding through London’s underground club scene, DJing at warehouse parties and venues such as Dalston’s Catch. “The parties were small and sweaty with good music... It was a good way to get heard,” reflects Self.
Indeed it was, as were a series of internet mixtapes that cemented further interest in the ZDS sound, which can be loosely described as a hedonistic brand of ghetto-electro house, taking in warehouse rave abstractions and with every last bar dripping in groove.
“The point behind the ZDS style has always been house music made with a hip-hop sentiment," explains Nat Self. "So although it often doesn’t sound like hip hop, the techniques used in making the tracks are similar. I always find it hard to put an actual label on it because I would hope it spans many sub-genres of house. So I always just end up calling it house. Maybe I should come up with a new label – how about hummus house or vagrant techno? Just to be clear, that is a joke.”
Careful what you joke about, Self – vagrant techno has a dangerous ring to it, and could well become the next clownstep… Thankfully, there’s not a note of hummus house on the upcoming ZDS debut album, titled Brains, of course. Though it may have taken six years for a full-length to appear, it’s been worth the wait, with ZDS — now with Nat as the sole member, after Hunter’s departure – sounding more rounded and refined than ever before.
But make no mistake, Brains is out-and-out groove fodder, in the most delicious way. “I wanted to make a dance floor album,” says Nat, which is exactly what he’s done, and then some.
Take, for example, the crunky Miami breaks of the title track, or the rock-solid booty groove vibes of ‘Twerk’ – a collaboration with none other than the master of ghetto house and booty bass, DJ Funk, an experience that Nat describes simply as “Awesome”.
Speaking of Funk, Nat explains that the Chicago (DJ Funk’s hometown) style was “100 percent” an influence on his own productions. “I like the stripped-back rawness of it and its tender emotion,” he confirms.
This is particularly true of older ZDS tracks, such as "Do It Like This," which sees Self painting the punchy Chicago sound with his own warehouse rave brush, to fine effect.
So, now that the music chat is out the way, let’s cut to the chase: zombies. What is Nat Self’s favorite zombie flick? “Sex and the City 2. The blank, cold brutality of the undead in that film is frankly terrifying.” But on a more practical level, when the undead do finally rise up (and they will), will you be fighting them, joining them or fleeing to the hills? “I’ll be off setting up a cult in the hills, with as many creature comforts as possible and a massive bongo drum.”
Sounds good. We’ll see you there.
Brains is released May 28 on Made To Play.