Have a read with someone who's about to drop a record which to me, is the most exciting release to come out of hiphop in a minute. Who's cooler, ET or Gremlins? You're just one click away from finding out!
First off, what's with the name DJ Panzah Zandahz? Or am I being awfully rude about your birth name?
No, make fun of it all you want. Its a terrible name, haha. I was eleven years old & on the phone with my therapist Patty Zanders while playing a this great old Sega Saturn game entitled "Panzer Dragoon." I mispronounced her name referring to her as "Panzer Zanders" & for some reason at the time I thought it was dope. Children are stupid.
Where are you from and where do you currently occupy Earth?
I'm from Northern New Hampshire (USA) & continue to associate myself with it even though I haven't lived there for over four years now. Its got its urban sprawl, republican reign, & botched public schooling, but it was a great place to grow up. I currently reside in Upstate New York, specifically Troy, but fuck NY, I've gotta get out of here.
How'd you describe the type of music which you are involved with?
I'm all over the place. I can't affix my name to one specific genre. Sample comp is very much a large part of what I do & that seems to be what grounds me in hip hop. But, I'm a versatile cat. I play an assortment of instruments, I collect Loretta Lynn records, & I think circuit bending toy instruments is the shit.
What are you primarily, a DJ or a producer, or is there a big blur between the two?
I don't know why there is such a blur in my case, but there is. I think that a lot of what I do production wise translates well to the turntables and vice versa. I've always been more serious about production and have viewed dj'ing as a vehicle to get my sound out there. I respect it as an art but I don't think I always treat it like one to its full potential. I'd like to, but I'm a cocksucker when it comes to practicing. That's why I'm mediocre at everything I do. I had to shake that "dj" out from in front of my name, I didn't feel I deserved it.
How'd you describe the type of music which you generally create?
I've never been much with words, so I aim to say what I can't say, or don't know I'm saying, through my music. I like my music to be an emotional experience as I think most artists do. I want it to be a roller coaster ride that can make you feel like a million bucks or want to stay in bed all day cursing the heavens for your existence. I'm excited about this EP I'm working on with 3SC's Brad Hamers, an accomplished spoken word artist, we share a lot of the same perspectives on fucking with the listener, trying to make them feel something, anything.
I search for a very organic sound usually. I am big on sample comp as I previously stated but a lot of what I've been creating as of lately has taken shape on sheet music. I'm working towards an EP of my own material and I think that the majority of it will consist of altered and chopped up recordings of string arrangements playing my own stuff. It should be nice and blue. Hey, I think that's a good way of describing my sound, "nice and blue." Most disagree however and state my songs are happy. But they don't sound happy to me. I was miserable recording every one of those songs so they shouldn't sound happy, haha. I don't know what happened.
Would you agree that you're perhaps in the same type of category as a DJ Shadow or Cut Chemist? Fan of them?
Fan for sure, especially Cut Chemist. I met him in Rome this fall at the Red Bull Music Academy and got to hang out with him a bit over a two week duration. I admire him a lot. I feel that the music I've released so far could easily fall in to the same category as them, but I've got a lot I've yet to make that doesn't match up. Sometimes I find that sample comp is too confining, but I think it might be that my skills within sample comp are what's confining. Nothings wrong with the art, it's just me, haha.
Do you ever get on the mic and record vocals or are you strictly concerned with the decks and stuff?
I do, but I rarely like the results, so you never hear it. I just sound like such a twat. I've taken voice lessons and although I can refine the way I sing, I can't refine the timbre of my voice. I guess I'm just stuck sounding like a twat. Who knows though, I get so sick of being silent, you may just hear it one day.
Could you run us through the releases which you have put out so far?
My most recent release is a mix cd which includes four originals from April oh-four entitled "Butterfunk Concoction." Prior to that I've appeared on a couple of compilations and I released a collection of work of mine from in-between ages 14 & 16, an out of print release known as "Uncertain Future." That's the real heat right there, haha. But I've got a ton of projects on the horizon.
How long have you been actively putting out music and when did you step up from simply being a fan of hip-hop?
Oh man, I have tapes and tapes of myself rhyming over keyboard presets from age 8 and on. I think that the most creative and artistically prolific period in my life was when I was 8 & 9. That was before I had any notion of failure or expectations for myself. Now, I sit down in front of a keyboard and I've got all these invisible shackles I'm strung up and strung out by. Sigh, to be 8 again.
Who would you name as some of your biggest influences which you have gained motivation to make music yourself from?
Oh goodness, where to start? Over the past couple of years my creative well has had some serious dry spells & it has taken a lot to pump life in to me. My label-mate and pal, Unconventional Science, has done a lot to help me pick up steam. My ex-girlfriend Annie, who I've yet to consider my ex (there's still hope) has also played a hand in inspiring me. The right song at the right time really has an incredible power over me. As of lately I have drawn a lot of inspiration from Al Green, Why?, the for-mentioned Brad Hamers, & of course Radiohead.
Could we talk about your forthcoming 12" 'Radiohead; Breaks & Beats'. What's it all about?
I wanted to put some of my favourite artists in to a more suitable arrangement for djs by preying upon the potentially break worthy aspects of their work. This is my first attempt and depending on the legal trouble it gets me in to I'd love to do more of these things. I can tell you that if all goes well Beck, Bjork, and RATM are on the horizon.
How big a Radiohead fan are you? Did you ever feel nervous or daunted by the task of recreating something by a band which has such a hardcore fanbase?
I have to admit I'm not a hardcore fan. Hardcore Bjork fan, YES, but I am still a Radiohead fan. I owe it to my buddy White Lotus for getting me in to them. Growing up I never could figure out why people were so crazy about them, but finally with "Hail to the Thief" I came around. I was worried about people's perceptions of this record, thinking that it was more of an "original production" then anything else. It's not. But for those same people I was unsure about I decided to create a mix cd that features myself reconstructing their work with the 12" and some remixes that didn't make the record. That will be out a little later this year.
What era of the bands discography does the 12" borrow from the most, or have you taken stuff from all over their work?
I'm definitely all over the place with the source material. There is a lot from OK Computer on there. A little from Hail to the Thief. There was a lot of stuff that I deemed too obvious or too complete to put on the 12". I figured that tracks like "National Anthem" and "Idioteque" can stand on there own if you just rock doubles of the originals.
What kind of use do you think those that purchase it will get from it? Simply something to listen to, to DJ with, to rhyme over?
I am hoping that people will get creative with it. It's a versatile record with a lot of artistic potential. It works well for the tablists looking for something different to skratch & drum. It works well for dj's backing up emcees at shows. And there are a few segments that I guess could stand on their own as listening experiences, but the mix cd I'm dropping should fill in that gap.
You run the label 'Token Recluse'. Is that what the 12" is coming out on? Are there any other artists on the label and what's it's goals or intentions?
Ummm, lets just say that the record is officially unassociated with the label for legal reasons, haha. I've been running Token Recluse since 2001, previously under the name "Zero Skillz." It houses the projects of myself, a producer from Maryland by the name of Unconventional Science, 3SC's Brad Hamers, and a retired Upstate NY emcee I previously mentioned known as White Lotus. It's just a place to hang our hats at night. As we grow and expand we hope that it does too.
Do you do many live sets where you are and can Europe expect a visit from you at some point?
Well, I just got back from Ireland, no shows though, forgot my turntables at home, bwahaha. I played out when I was in Rome a bit and before that my last show was at OH's Scribble Jam this Summer with Sev Statik. But now that I have some new material and a reason to go on the road I won't hesitate to pick up a show or two. So if your reading this and your the events co-ordinator of a liberal arts college in the Alps or part of the booking staff at a pub in Poland hook a fella up.
Have you got any recommendations of quality hip-hop for those that are feeling a little starved of it right now?
EDAN! Edan is the shit. Anyone sleeping on him should wake up. I can't wait for the new one, "Beauty & the Beat.
Your site shows you as being really into art work and photography as well as the sounds. Is that what you do for a living?
I wipe ass and clean up blood at a hospital for a living. I wish that I could live off of my art. I have my own web design and graphic design service but that barely covers my electricity bills. I went to a trade school for video editing but that got me absolutely nowhere. Troy New York, haha. I'd love to pursue the arts but I kind of don't know how to go about doing it. Anybody with any ideas, get at me, no joke. It's quite the pickle.
How important is it for the average person to have some creativity in their lives in one way or another, considering the gloomy nature the world seems to be rotating with right now?
I take it your a bit pessimistic? The world has always been gloomy. It just depends on how you look at it. It could be a happy place if you choose to look at it that way. With that aside, I don't think the power of creativity is going to do it. Human nature is a sham and its just a matter of days until it all comes crashing down on us. Whether a couple of days be tomorrow or hundreds of years from now, its going to happen. And when it does, I want to be the soundtrack.
Have you got any shout out's or plugs you wanna throw out there?
Big up to all those out there listening & showing their support. Thanks to you Tony and all of Rap News UK for the chance to let me speak my mind.
What's cooler, an ET or a Gremlin?
Hmmmm….. Well I'm not much of a Spielberg fan aside from Schindler's List, and my Mogwai friend Gizmo hates Gremlins, so that's a hard one. I'd have to say that Gremlins are cooler by association. Although they wouldn't be shit without Giz.