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ZEKE BEATS Attentive

Zeke Beats

Few would argue that one man does more to lead the march and further the reputation of Perth bass music culture than mastermind selector and director of the Lab Six DJ & production school, Zeke Beats. Off the back of his long-awaited debut EP release, Pay Attention, and before heading off on a tour to share it with the world, JOSH LLOYD sits down with the local bass lord to have a chat about the EP, the DJ school, the world tour and how they all come together.

Having cut his name for years as a prominent scratch DJ, from which he has garnished impressive titles and an international reputation, Zeke Beats has transitioned to become a producer.

“Its hard to lose the scratch DJ stigma, because everyone knows me as a scratch DJ, hence the name change to Zeke Beats (formerly just Zeke), to show that I’m producing beats now, but if you get me for a show you’ll still get me going crazy, it’s like a double-whammy for the promoters out there (laughs).”

Speaking on his production influences, “the music I listen to is the music that influences the music I make. So Eprom’s first album is a big one for me, it’s my favourite all-time album and then there are some dudes who are underground and not that well known like Lorn who makes creepy music. I like creepy vibes to music, like sneaking around or dark vibes. I’d also say Rustie’s earlier stuff, all the Saturate guys like G Jones, Bleep Bloop, Subp Yao, Conrank and also local guys like Slumberjack and Sable.”

The 13-track EP, Unintentionally Spookily, released on Halloween by Saturate Records, features six originals and a collaboration with Subp Yao all sharing a distinctly matured feeling, understandable as they’ve been a consistent source of attention and hard work for this musical perfectionist.

It’s something I’ve definitely been working towards for a while,” he says. “I’ve been making beats for four years but I never considered my music worthy, now I’m at a stage where I want to start showing people more music because I think it’s of some worthiness. There’s no point in putting out music if I’m not happy with it but now that I am it’s like, ‘yeah cool I’m going to show you guys what I do’. I guess if I’d put out shit beats early it would’ve had a shit impact on my name so I wanted my beats to be where I want them so that then I can be represented the way I want to be”.

The EP also features six remixes that have been as carefully planned as the rest of the release. “All the remixes come from really underground dudes who’ve had a lot of influence on me, guys like Raadsel and Lakritze who don’t release as much stuff now but I thought I’d get them to do remixes because for me it’s really big to have them on there.”

Hoping the world is ready, Zeke is about to set off on tour accompanied by his fresh produce. “I’m going to Europe in December, got gigs booked in Hamburg (the home of Saturate Records) and Prague, hopefully there’s a few other dates being locked in, then I go straight across from Europe to the US and start touring the West Coast bass scene, which is the scene I’d be most associated with now.”

It’ll be Zeke’s second tour of the US, but he admits that “this time will be a lot bigger.” When asked about the upcoming gigs, Zeke mentions that he’s booked to play Low End Theory(legendary weekly bass event in California) and then trails off in excitement “the last time at Low End Theory was my favourite set ever, it’s always been something I’d wanted to play. I’ve always looked up to it, those guys kill it for me. D Styles and Gaslamp Killer especially, so being able to play at a gig that’s their residency was fucking amazing. It’ll stick in my head because I was staying with Z-Trip because we’re homies and he admired my skills, he came down with me, I set my shit up and before I started to play he grabbed the mic and said, ‘hold up hold up, y’all motherfuckers don’t know what’s about to go down right now’ (laughs).

“I played my set and smashed it without making any mistakes and then after the set I went to get some water and Gaslamp Killer came up chanting my name with his arms in the air and I was like holy shit, to have someone like that say that, it made it for me.”

Continuing on with his plans to conquer the States, “there’s a beats night in San Francisco called Resonate which I’m booked in for and then I’ll head to Portland to hang out with my homie Eprom, he’s had a huge impact on me and he’s an amazing producer I learn a lot from”.

As Zeke continues to talk up Eprom’s influence, he casts his eyes over the array of analog equipment in the lab six studio, “before I used to make beats and I was happy with them but we had one session in the studio last time I stayed with him and he just opened my eyes, he opened my eyes up to analog sound, all the big gritty synths you can hear in my songs are analog.”

Finally on the intriguing US tour, Zeke mentions “I’m also playing gigs in Canada and Seattle, going to go to LA to hang with Z-Trip, more gigs and hanging out with QBert in San Francisco. It’s really great having all these friends in the industry; I get to hang out with my idols only now it’s homie status (laughs).”

These jet-setting ways are a far cry from one of Zeke’s predominant past times over the last couple years, the establishment and running of the Lab Six DJ School in Perth. “Yeah it’s definitely taken off,” he says, “there was a whole in the market that we’ve seen. People in Perth love their electronic music; if anything it’s the biggest capital for electronic music in Australia, we have people who really love and support and get behind the scene and that’s what makes it so good. Having that support and that amount of people wanting to get into it, it was definitely a smart thing to open a DJ and production school. We’ve expanded and moved once already, plus we’ve got Slumberjack and Sable teaching some of our production courses.”

Ahead of the first birthday showcase for Lab Six, featuring performances from Lab Six graduates, the pleasure Zeke gets from helping local talent shine through is obvious, “our birthday was actually in July or August but we finally have the time now to hype an event up where loads of our students will be playing. It’s really rewarding to be able to see someone DJing who didn’t know anything before and now they’re DJing like they really get it, and that’ll be awesome for us to see on that night, when we’ll be able to see our students giving it a crack in a real club situation.”

With Zeke’s dedication to bass music thoroughly proven, a discussion about electronic music trying to bridge the gap between the mainstream and music for the purists spurs Zeke to say in typically modest tones that “I’m all about the purism, I don’t know whether it’s going to make me money or let me do this for the rest of my life, but I’m all about that purism”. It seems that he’s making a pretty good start.



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