We chat with the bass music pioneer about forging your own path and showing respect to your peers.
Still best known for his seminal dark UK garage hit ‘Neighbourhood’, Dave Jones aka Zed Bias has been at the forefront of the UK’s bass-led underground since the late 1990s.
We caught up with him for a quick chat about his latest single release on Digital Soundboy and his tips for the ultimate heavy bassline.
Your music has always seemed to be out of step with what most other producers are doing at any given moment. Do you think it’s important to keep progressing and moving things forward in your own way?
I’m aware of what producers are doing at any given time, but it generally doesn’t influence my decision to go down a particular musical path. I try to put out music that feels right to me at the time. If people get it, then great… if not then that’s OK too.
A lot of your tracks contain a slightly unexpected musical twist. Do you think your love of rare groove, old funk and soul influences that?
I’m not sure how much of that’s down to my past musical influences. I think it’s just the way I like to make music. Hearing unexpected musical twists, as you put it, is what I enjoy about other people’s music, old and new, so that might be the reason. I still love a bit of rare groove!
You’re also well known for your trademark heavy bassline pressure, which is a key feature of both tracks on the new single. What’s the secret to your killer low-end?
I guess there isn’t a secret as such. It’s just a matter of building everything around your bassline. It’s really important not to try and squeeze a bassline in between other sounds.
Whenever we speak to dubstep and garage producers, your name comes up as a reference point, but that hasn’t necessarily crossed over into you becoming a household name. Do you get satisfaction from being an underground hero or would you rather cross over and cash in?
I think I had a taste of commercial success back in the day, and that was enough for me. I’ve always been about the music and not the hype. What I’ve enjoyed the most in my career is having the freedom to create whatever I’m feeling and not having to conform in any way. ‘Cashing in’ puts an end to all that!
But you must be aware of how much you’ve influenced the music scene? Do you feel proud of what you’ve achieved and the difference you’ve made to British music in particular?
Yes, I see it, and yes, I’m very proud to be part of this big picture. The UK has something very special happening right now and I’m just very happy to be included in it all.
In terms of that current UK scene, who do you respect and whose records do you most look out for?
I respect a load of people for their work ethic. People who are non-stop grinding. I recognise it because that’s how I live – non-stop studio and gigs. To name them all would be long, but I have a special respect for a couple of people who are particularly good at what they do and are solid people… and the best way I’ve been able to demonstrate my respect is by releasing records on their labels, namely Loefah’s SWAMP81 and Shy FX’s Digital Soundboy.
You’ve worked under a few different names over the years. Why do you choose to separate the projects?
I first released under different names back in the day so I could fool record shops into stocking various 12-inches of mine at the same time! There isn’t so much need for that these days, but having the different names allows me to explore different musical avenues at the same time.
On that subject, will Maddslinky be returning at any point?
There’s a lot of activity right now on the Maddslinky project. There’ll be a series of EPs being released next year on Tru Thoughts.
‘Heavy Water Riddim’/'Hurting Me’ is out now on Digital Soundboy.