Cornerstone Tracks
DJ Zinc charts the evolution of his sound

Drum & bass, breakbeat, hip-hop, bass-weighted house – DJ Zinc has covered a lot of ground across the last two decades, and somehow he still manages to tie all of this together in every one of his far-spanning DJ sets. While the roots of his sound can be traced to pioneering jungle imprints like True Playaz, in recent years he’s become known for his highly eclectic playing style.

When we spoke to him for our latest Cornerstone Tracks feature he sung his praises for the likes of Benji B and Ben UFO, two DJs who no doubt took early inspiration from Zinc’s encompassing approach to mixing records. He showed us how far his tastes stretch with his track selections, giving some idea of the mix of sounds he’ll be bringing to his Bingo Bass showcase on 25th May.

It Is What It Is – Rhythim Is Rhythim [Tramsmat]

This was when I was just getting into music, and it started connecting with me in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. I’d been into electro and hip-hop during school but this was different, like it had a depth and soul that was also powerful! The combination of electronic drums, bass, and synths was something I wanted to be involved with.

This came out in 1988. So how old would you have been when you heard it?


Were you listening to and playing a lot of Detroit techno even at that age?

No – I couldn’t afford many records, and it wasn’t until 1992 that I owned my own turntables.

Radio Babylon – Meat Beat Manifesto [Play It Again Sam]

Again, this came from my early years of buying music. It was the next step on, as it had a breakbeat rather than four four, which I couldn’t get enough of. This track and It Is What It Is helped form the blueprint for everything I’ve done since.

It’s very heavy on sampling. How important was sampling in your work back then?

Sampling was everything – I didn’t have any synths or drum machines, so everything had to be sampled. I remember the AKAI S950 being a bugger to use, mainly because it was so slow.

What got you into four four after such a prolonged interest in breakbeat and drum & bass?

By 2006, I got a bit bored of drum & bass, so I started looking for other music I wanted to play. I couldn’t find any house records I liked, so I decided to make it.

Terminator – Metal Heads [Synthetic]

Fast forward a few years, and Goldie came up with this era-defining track. I’m not sure who engineered this for him, but they deserve some of the respect too. Most people can remember where they were when they first heard this one, it was so different. The way the drums went up in pitch paved the way for a new chapter in ‘the jungle book’…

So where were you when you first heard it?

A warehouse party in Leyton, East London.

I think tracks from Goldie and the Metalheadz label would make the list of anyone who’s been a drum & bass producer. What do you think draws people so universally to his music?

I think it’s a great label because of both its consistency, and the way it’s maintained its vision.

Watching Windows (DJ Die Gnarly Vocal Mix) – Roni Size / Reprazent [Talkin’ Loud]

If I had to pick one person who made more killer bass lines than anyone it would be Die, and this record is a perfect example. It’s so simple, but smashed more clubs to bits than anything else from the same era. It was around on dub plate for about 18 months before being released, and almost every big DJ used to play it in their set throughout that 18 month period. Just imagine that happening now!

It’s true that dub plate culture was from a different time. Have you seen a change in raves as a result?

I don’t know if there's any correlation between the evolution from dub plate, to CDs, to USB, and a change in raves. I doubt it, but maybe.

Do you prepare your set differently now that there’s less of a focus on having that killer dub?

Generally I don’t really prepare sets – I just find music I like, put it in a folder and see which feels like the best one to play when I’m actually playing.

Come Down – Chris Lorenzo [Sixty6Music]

This is a great example of the type of stuff I play nowadays – I play music from house through to drum & bass in most of my sets. I love the way that it completes the circle for me – I’ve gone back to where I started, but now with everything that’s joined in along the way. It’s such a good time for music, with more and more DJs playing mixed genre sets. Lorenzo is much copied, but in my opinion no-one comes close. He’s a don.

Are there any DJs you respect that have always been quite eclectic in their selections?

Yes! Benji B, Ben UFO and Laurent Garnier. Loads of the newer DJs jump around genres, I love it.

Where would this typically sit in a set for you?

It depends on the set, but really could be anywhere. I don’t play it any more, but his new ones are just as good!

How does this compare to what we’ll be hearing later on this month?

I reckon I’ll play a mixture of all my favourite music: some bass house, some old jungle, some new drum & bass, and everything in-between!

Friday 25th May

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