TOTD // 06/04 // James Zabiela

Published: April 6, 2017, words by Alex Green

Part of the Snowbombing 2017: 8,947ft above the ordinary takeover


He may have rose to prominence as a pupil of progressive house legend Sasha, but in the last five years James Zabiela has emerged from the shadow of his former mentor, surpassing expectations and moulding a distinctive style.

Pinning down Zabiela’s sound is an arduous task. Taking elements from across the house and techno spectrum, he deftly blends them to create a sound quite unlike any other. His label, Born Electric puts out only the finest breakbeat, techno and house. His own productions vary from acid flecked 4/4 to minimal, rolling sub bass. The motif that bind all this together, and makes his sets instantly recognisable, is his ear for clipped, distorted vocals.

This all makes sense when you learn that Zabiela played a part in creating the CDJ-2000, the electronic turntable that has been the industry standard in clubs since its introduction in 2009. At the core of his music is a love for technology. Just watch his homecoming Boiler Room set in Southampton. The first thing to strike you is the ease with which he works his CDJ-live equipment hybrid, all the time with a grin on face.

For some ‘progressive house’ is a dirty word. But the way in which Zabiela has taken the bare bones of a genre that has long lost its status as cutting edge, and evolved it into some new and daring, places him a cut above the rest. James Zabiela played at Snowbombing in Austria this week. In 2015 he could be seen pounding the slopes wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with “Skiing is a bit shit”. His sets at the festival have become something of yearly ritual, and he shows us why below, with a magnificent four track techno excursion. For anyone who missed James in action over the last couple of days, or has serious Snowbombing withdrawal, fear not! He’s doing a Born Electric label party at The Nest on April 15th.

FJAAK

Spnd Ballett

  • Calm

  • Energetic

  • Euphoric

  • Happy

  • Melancholic

  • Nostalgic

  • Tense

  • Wonky

“I’ve chosen this because of its glacial quality and its heavy-ass broken beat vibe that I’ve always found synonymous with Snowbombing. ”
via soundcloud

Jamie Lidell

When I Come Back Round (Matthew Herbert's Long Night Dub)

  • Calm

  • Energetic

  • Euphoric

  • Happy

  • Melancholic

  • Nostalgic

  • Tense

  • Wonky

“I can see this one working at the Van’s snowpark as people chill in the sunshine or even late night in the Bruk n Stadl on the Funktion Ones. ”
via soundcloud

Rod

Hor

  • Calm

  • Energetic

  • Euphoric

  • Happy

  • Melancholic

  • Nostalgic

  • Tense

  • Wonky

“A 129BPM techno rave banger that I can picture myself listening to on my headphones, whilst irresponsibly flying down the piste trying to set a new land speed record. ”
via youtube

The Prodigy

Skylined

  • Calm

  • Energetic

  • Euphoric

  • Happy

  • Melancholic

  • Nostalgic

  • Tense

  • Wonky

“I used to borrow my mates cassette tape of Jilted Generation when I was at school. I chose this because I’ve now seen The Prodigy twice at Snowbombing and this a suitably epic track for the landscape. ”

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