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DJ Zinc: "I love technology but I wonder if we've lost something along the way"

The revered DJ on the importance of community

  • Words: DJ Zinc | Illustration: Alex Jenkins
  • 5 October 2017

Around the time I left school, aged 16, I fell in love with music. When I heard acid house and the early rave stuff I was completely hooked. Growing up in London meant I had pirates to listen to, and that world was something I wanted to be a part of. Back then you could only hear our music on pirate stations, in raves, in your friends’ bedrooms, and in record shops. I spent all my spare time in record shops (and worked in one for a few years) and the sense of community was great. Lots has been discussed about the near wipe-out of record shops, and the gap they’ve left, and the same can be said for the tape pack gangs: we didn’t Shazam a track then find it on YouTube or SoundCloud, we listened to tape packs if the pirates weren’t on, and often had to then go and sing basslines to bemused record shop staff for months until the track came out. I love so many things about how technology has moved forward (including not having to sing basslines to record shop staff), but I do wonder if we’ve lost something along the way.

One aspect of the jungle and drum ’n’ bass community that I saw change drastically was the now legendary Music House. Music House in Holloway had previously served the reggae scene, cutting exclusive tracks for the DJs, but for jungle DJs it was less about tracks with our names in and much more about cutting exclusive and up-front tracks to play. In the days of vinyl, if you made a track you’d have to wait a few weeks to get back the test presses, so dub[plates] meant we could get the tracks to play in the club straight away, and check that they sounded right before committing to vinyl.

Once I was established in the jungle and d’n’b scene, around 1995, I began cutting plates in earnest. When I was DJing every week and in the studio all the time I had the need for new tunes and a load of my own to cut too. So I’d spend the best part
of a day every week for around five years sitting in Music House waiting for my turn to cut my plates.

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