Across the divide - It's Alex Mac and Zeebra Kid
Reported by VinDiesel
Submitted 12-01-11 19:37
Alex Mac & Zeebra Kid have become 2 of the most recognised names in the area of Hard Dance Production over the past 18 months. They have established a reputation for knocking out outstanding tunes including ‘Life’ which was a number one Hit. Their work is highly respected and recognised within the hard dance scene and leading DJs including regulars spins their tunes on the biggest stages. They have played out at some of the biggest promotions and blitzed packed dance floors all around the country.
Now guys you had a varied history in clubland, tell me where it all began for you?
Alex: Well after busting up my knee playing football, hanging up the guitar for a while and slightly falling off the rails I got involved in squat parties where my love for Acid techno grew very rapidly (still love it). This led to broadening my ears to the trance/hard trance side of things at parties like Peach & Pendragon. I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Darren: Well for me it goes back to around 1996 going to parties like Pendragon, Escape from Samsara and Trance Central so I went straight in to the harder side of dance music.
Darren you were involved in promotion early on, did that come before your DJ’ing or did it happen at the same time?
Darren: Yes I used to run my own production called Shiva Lord of the Dance but now I just concentrate on playing, it’s a lot less stressful, lol.
How did you guys first meet?
Both: Well practically as soon as we could walk, our parents are brother & sister and up until the age of 10 lived a stones throw away from each other. Darren moved away and we lost contact for about 10 years, in those 10 years Alex grew fond of the guitar & still plays in a band as we speak, whilst Darren taught himself how to be a master mixer which was then passed on to Mr Mac.
Alex, do you think your musical knowledge of playing the Guitar made it easier to learn to mix?
Alex: Definitely, learning chords, relative notes and scales gives you an obvious ear for music. I see the decks as a musical instrument, distinguishing what key your music is in can determine whether your mixes sound good or bad.
How long have you been DJ’ing together and when was your first gig ?
Both: Well we played on the same line-up for years but never together. We first went back to back in 2006 at one of our own promotions and have played together ever since.
Define your sound and tell me how it has changed or developed over the past few years?
Darren: Our sounds have been pretty similar from when we started, Alex maybe being a bit darker than me but only just, our sound hasn’t changed too much over the years although now we’re producing more of a hard house energy/hard trance crossover, which is the sound that we love to play at the moment. There is not enough people producing this sound so we do have to work hard on our sets to get it sounding the way we want it.
What were the musical influences in your life growing up and at present?
Darren: For me it was my dad who plays nearly every instrument known to man and has been in bands as long as I can remember.
Alex: To be honest, hard dance music hit me a bit later then the norm, I was heavily into rock and heavy metal from bands like Pink Floyd, Hawkwind and Led Zeppelin. Although people might think there is a massive difference between the two, believe me there’s not. Hard trance stems from a lot of the stuff these guys where creating back in the day.
Who are the DJ’s and producers who are making you sit up and listen on the scene at the moment?
Darren: There’s some good talent out there at the moment with the likes of
Scott Genetik, Leon B, and Sheldon Ives who’s music we play in our sets regularly.
You’ve produced quite a few tracks over the past few years. How do you get ideas for new tracks?
Alex: Very tough question to answer, When producing you can’t base your track on ideas from others, otherwise you end up sounding too much like someone else so its all about your ideas that spring to mind at the time. We do have an idea of where we’re going for example the vocals and samples and the rest falls in to place (most of the time lol).
How many tracks have you produced so far?
Darren: Around the 30 figure off the top of my head and we are working on a few as we speak.
Do you get involved with the technical side of production i.e. using tools such as Logic, keyboards, mixing desk etc?
Both: We use Cubase as a sequencer and a few prize picked VST’s,
we like to create our own sounds and our own percussive loops to be a bit different from everyone else.
How many labels are you signed to for production? Are you signed exclusively for a label?
Darren: We were managed and signed to Impact Recordings but signed to many other labels as well, around 12.
I know you guys have busy lives especially with children, do you set time aside regularly to develop tunes or do you meet up as and when you feel like?
Both: I think we do it as and when we can to be honest, with so much going on in our lives it’s hard to set aside time. Alex is also in a band playing bass at the moment but saying that we do find time for dance music and will continue to do so.
There is quite a few tunes out there that have sampled pop music tunes including Coldplay, Ting Tings and Jimi Hendrix! What are your thoughts on this? Have you thought of sampling the music from Alex’s band?
Both: It definitely works if it’s done right but can be border line cheese if not done correctly like choosing the right tracks to remix. Although ss=ome people like that and from what we’ve seen over the past 5 years or so is that the ravers seem to be getting fluffier and fluffier.
Would you consider doing a live PA performance?
Both: That is definitely something we have been pondering for some time. We have enough of our own material but feel we need to do it right before embarking in that area. Watch this space!
Now you had a busy period over Xmas. You played at for Glow ball on New Years Eve. How was it? Were you guys nervous? Especially going on before the big midnight set from Technikal?
Both: Glow ball was unbelievable, great crowed great music all night from every DJ we managed to catch and what a venue. All the people involved worked very hard on putting the night together and it showed. Would be wicked if they could do a few more there this year! We loved finishing off 2010 for everyone and it worked perfectly with Alf taking over with him playing Song for you with Big Ben chimes to add to the flavour. We don’t really get nervous anymore just always exited to get up there and play. Bigger the crowed bigger the buzz.
What is your most notable achievement to date?
Darren: Luckily we’ve have had some very high points but one away from gigs and tunes has to be having one of our mixes played on Kiss Fm and being labelled as up and coming super star DJ’s. We have had a few number ones and appeared on most of the best hard dance record labels in the world.
You both hale from North West London. Coming from the same area, I’m aware of how the locals love their garage and drum n bass. How have you found your local friends view of hard dance music?
Alex: Believe it or not, we have converted a few of them so called garage and drum & bass heads not only to listening to hard dance but also coming out to most of the parties we play at. Although we love all music, in our opinion when it comes to a party you can’t beat the harder side of Dance.
Have you ever attempted or felt like putting on a Hard Dance party in Mill Hill, Edgware or any part of North West London?
Darren: Well funny you should mention that, in about 1997 we started to throw parties at a local rugby club which let us carry on till gone 6 am. This is where it all began for us, the place at times was so packed you could barely move, But everyone loved it.
Where do you see your career progressing over the next 18 months?
Do you see yourself moving onto play for bigger/more diverse parties and events or do you see yourself moving more into the production side, creating tracks for others as well as yourself?
Both: There’s nothing we would like more then to engineer tracks for other people but in all honesty finding time would be difficult, but most of all I’m very particular when it comes to creating a track so I think there would be a communication problem because we are very stuck in our ways. So for the time being producing for ourselves seems the way forward for now. As for the dance scene we’re satisfied in the way we have progressed over the past 4 years, we’ve played for most of the biggies, let’s hope more find their way to us. (Hint: call Darren on 07903677812)
Ok let’s say you’ve been booked to play the biggest gigs of your career but unfortunately that same night, Arsenal or Tottenham (seeing as you support both sides from North London) are playing in the Champions League Final at the same time. What do you do?
Darren: Well I can only dream of us being in the Champions League final but if it was to happen I’m sure I would be able to fit in both I would be a bit messy on the decks as I would deffo have to have a few drinks to celebrate. – yidos!
Alex: Well for me, if there were a clash you can count on me being behind the decks for sure, but if Tottenham were in the final and won how on earth could I stand alongside Darren for the duration with that smug look on his boat race, lol
Come on the Arsenal,
A musical partnership that transcends across the great Spurs and Arsenal rivalry. But a hugely successful one to date! Thanks guys and all the best for 2011!
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Other Features By VinDiesel:
Alf takes the Technikal View
Cheers! ReFre5h is 2
Get attracted to Magnetix
Phil Reynolds starts the Digital Revolution: Part Two
Phil Reynolds starts the Digital Revolution: Part One
The views and opinions expressed in this review are strictly those of the author only for which HarderFaster will not be held responsible or liable.
| From: SEAN I-O on 13th Jan 2011 09:37.17|
From: Timmy Whiz on 13th Jan 2011 17:24.30
2 amazing DJ's full of energy!! at top lads too well done guys, I look forward to seeing what you get up to in 2011
From: sexyminx on 15th Jan 2011 19:13.29
Whoop whoop fantastic interview, nice one Chris.
2 wicked dj's they smashed it at Prime Time & NYE Glowball. Love listening to their mix. Keep up the good work guys :o)
From: zeebra kid on 21st Jan 2011 08:15.27
Thanks guys & happy new year, see you all soon.
From: chicklet on 3rd Feb 2011 16:50.00
Wicked interview and great to see Alex and Darren are doing so well! They deserve it!! Pebbles xx
From: zeebra kid on 21st Feb 2011 09:31.31
Thanks Pebbles xx