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Jack Smith

We’re very honoured to have been given the opportunity to speak to one of our (and most probably your) favourite producers’ in the game, following on from his triumphant return to form on CIA‘s Deepkut this week with long-time collaborator Beta 2. Talking scene transitions, production approach and label progression… Step forward Zero T.


Greetings, Zero T! You’ve been in the game for what seems like donkey’s years now. Moving into 2012, what would you say has changed most about the scene since you first became active within it?

The main difference is that it is now impossible to make a living off being a producer alone, due to the digital revolution. When I started out there were producers who never performed in any way, yet were top of the game in every sense. On the positive side, when I ‘arrived’ there was only Calibre, Teebee and Marky representing non-uk DnB and since that time it has truly exploded into a global movement. The next big tune is as likely to come from Kiev as is it from London.

Your release on CIA’s offshoot Deepkut marks another released with long time collaborator Beta 2. How did you both meet and begin working together, and what is it about your relationship with Beta 2 that makes it such a fruitful one?

We met through Bassbin in Dublin back in 1999 just at the time that Bassbin was moving from being just a promoter to becoming a label. We hit it off immediately, began to write music together and were lucky enough to have our first track’s signed by 4hero for Reinforced. From there we went on to release in collaboration and separately on many of the same labels. Although Dom (Beta 2) has been away from DnB–Land for a while, he’s lost none of his recognisable sound. It’s great to have him back on it!

Incoming releases on your own label Footprints, CIA, headlining FTM’s debut release with Need For Mirrors… there’s certainly been a flurry of activity from yourself recently after a fairly quiet year or so. Is it a case of biding your time and waiting for the right homes for your tunes, or perhaps producing taking a back-seat to other prior engagements?

2011 was a turbulent year for me and I didn’t get into the studio as much as I would have liked, so i’ve been making up for it with my work rate this year. I have a slate of original material coming on CIA, Playaz and Dispatch and 4 remixes due out. Then there is the first LP on Footprints, due this Christmas, which I have compiled from tracks by my favorite artists on the scene, some newcomers and myself.

Your Footprints showcase mix for Fabric Live back in August takes a refreshing departure from the deep, tech-focused sounds around the 172 mark we’ve become accustomed to hearing from Zero T. In light of this, can we expect Footprints to begin veering away from Drum & Bass release-wise?

The next release (taken from the afore mentioned LP) is a Calibre EP, which features 2 deep house tunes and 1 dnb track. The LP will have some varied tempo stuff from other artists too. It’s definitely something I want to do with Footprints going in 2013 and beyond, opening up the musical palette to whatever I consider to be ‘Footprints Music’.

Can you give us a rundown of your production setup in the studio? Do you favour a predominantly software-based approach? Anything you swear by plugin-wise, or anything could recommend to aspiring producers?

The heart of my set up is, and always has been, my Mackie 16/04 mixing desk. I used to use and Emu sampler before I switched to using Kontakt with Cubase. I try and incorporate as much outboard hardware and trinkets as I can. The stranger the source the better: kids toys, car keys, whatever you can make a noise with! If you have a mic, you can literally make music from the room you are in. Another piece of software I use to manipulate sounds is an old version of Sonic Foundry Sound Forge (6.0). The processors have a lo-fi quality that I really like and has been lost in newer versions of Sound Forge. The bottom line with production for me is not what you are using, but how you use it. Some of the best music i’ve ever heard came from the worst set ups, technically speaking.

Where would you place music production, label management etc. on a scale of importance within your life right now? Do you have any hobbies or interests that we might not neccesarily with the Zero T product?

Running the label does take alot of time, but it’s worthwhile. I want Footprints to be my legacy when I am old and grey! Production is my bread and butter though, so that always has to take precedence. Hobbies: I play 5 a side as much as I can to combat the extreme unhealthiness of this lifestyle.

Which track within your repertoire are you most proud of and why?

Tough one this… probably Refusal ft Steo or my remix of All Thieves – Stars. Both those tracks had a big impact for me and I still think they stand up to the test of time. They still get a reaction from me, so they must be doing something right!

Finally, what’s the one Urban Essential you couldn’t live without?


Beta 2 & Pete Joseph / Zero T – Love Finds Me / Red Hand is out now on CIA Deepkut. Click here for Chemical Records link.