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James Zabiela - Alive
System Recordings

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James Zabiela - Alive
System Recordings

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James Zabiela Interview


James Zabiela - Alive

from DJ Zak Davis

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24 year-old DJ superstar James Zabiela flexes some DJ muscle on his first major release "Alive." His musical career began as a young kid growing up in England during the 80s when dance music was on the rise. His father was a techno DJ and also worked at the local record shop. This irreplaceable and possibly unwanted experience brought James up in the dance music world and soon helped forge him into the musician he is today. As if that was not enough motivation to become a DJ and producer, James was also taken under the wing of DJ legend Sasha. After joining Sasha at the Excession Agency, James found himself playing all over the world. But that's only the beginning. While on a gig with Sasha in 2002, James found himself face to face with the piece of equipment that would cement his place in the dance music world, the Pioneer CDJ-1000. After experimenting with it on the gig with Sasha, James was compelled to buy a pair when he returned to England.

Fast forward two years and this man has reinvented the duties of a DJ. With the use of one turntable, two CDJs, and two small effects units, he creates remixes on the fly and brings a whole new aspect into DJing; it's really the middle ground in between live P.A. and spinning records. This double-disc set on System Records in the US is nothing short of a journey on wax.

He kicks it off with his own edit of the Luke Vibert track "Ambalek." The pulsating sounds of this track are married with some electro robotic voices to set up the mood for the disc. Diplomat gets real funky with some of the Florida breaks sound on the track "The Number One MC & DJ Crew." The bass is hard and is soon transformed into the lead part in the Jason Sparks song "Gangsters." Coming in at the number five and seven positions on this disc are Hisham Samawi with his tracks "Holding On" and "Spirals." They are two very hot tracks by a producer who is soon to be on the tip of everyone's tongue. Smashed in between these tracks is Rob Mello with his song "Fantasize." It is literally chopped and layered over top of "Spirals." The classic Underworld track "Dark & Long" is also thrown in the mix, but with the Zabiela influence.

The breakbeat sound is quite prevalent throughout this mix. One prime example is the Dallas Holiday song "Forgive." The dark rhythms and floating melodies bring this track into the spotlight of the mix. Breaks producer Lee Coombs (who is also a close firend of Zabiela) steps in with his remix of the Atomic song "Shine a Light." The cowbell sounds mesh into the driving bass line and are injected with the vocals of Sweet Hustler. Another remix sensation present on this compilation is Elite Force. They pick up knob-twisting duties for Downpressor and turn their "Nine" song into a perfect breakbeat. The bass is carried over from "Nine" into "Transition" by Sven Sarvarko. This song steps it up a bit with some pounding drums and filtered basslines. Donacha Costello shows a slower more ambient side of the mix with the track "Colorseries Blue A." Before you know it the song is transformed from a downtempo track to a trance track and is done with beautiful harmony. "Strange Items" by Jeff Bennett is given the Zabiela treatment with his Tease Edit. The technical wizardry of Mr. Zabiela is marveling.

The second disc is loaded with songs from Sound Alliance, Diplomat, BT, Momu, Perc, and of course is twisted and stretch to fit whatever James wants. Go get it now, the second disc awaits...

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~ DJ Zak Davis

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