If Panorama Bar has signed them on as residents, the hype about Zombie Disco Squad must be worth listening to. EQ catches up with the hottest duo on the block to see what all the fuss is about…

words: Rob Chadwick

According to Jesse Rose, they’re one of the most exciting prospects of the year. Claude VonStroke is into their sound too. And now Panorama Bar in Berlin has signed them up as residents. So it’s probably safe to say that 2009 is the year of the Zombie Disco Squad – and Lucas Hunter and Nat Self must be more than ready for their alter egos to make an impact. The boys first became Zombie Disco Squad back in 2006, putting on nights in London at the likes of The Social and Catch. Then came the mixtapes – which won a global reputation as they spread around the world via the web – a string of internet ?hits?, including Straight Boy, which clocked more than 10,000 downloads. Now Jesse has signed them exclusively to his Made To Play label, Claude has collared them for a single on DirtyBird, and on top of that Panorama Bar residency, they’re touring Australia. EQ caught up Nat to find out how they started, what’s been happening Down Under, and what it’s like having a residency at arguably the best club on the planet…

How’s the tour of Australia been?
It’s been great so far – everyone is so enthusiastic here compared to us reserved Brits. It’s really refreshing. We’re really looking forward to playing the rest of the dates and hopefully we’ll get another chance to come back out here. Australia has always been on our list of places to play. Being so far away from everywhere, it’s really interesting to see how the scene grows here. It’s also crazy to be in a country that is halfway around the world, but everyone still speaks English and has the queen’s head on the currency. It’s like a familiar culture shock.

You’ve been known to blend hip hop and house within your music – what’s the thinking behind this combination?
Our thing for sometime now has been to take the ethos and attitude of hip hop (including baile funk and Baltimore club) and put that feeling into house. In terms of influences, there is a plethora of musicians who we draw influences from, not all house artists. Our two biggest sources of influence have to be DirtyBird and Made To Play, which is why it was such a honour for us to have releases on both. We’re also really into the old Miami bass scene – electro provided a platform from hip hop to house, and we love the connection. The clash of the two scenes provides some really interesting musical styles – while hip hop is all about bravado and swagger, house is about the energy and collective. Plus sonically, hip hop has some really cool sounds that transfer well in the club.

When you started out in 2006 you were creating mixtapes which aired over the net. How did you get them noticed on a global scale?
We’ve always tried to work as hard as we can and keep our stuff as original as possible. And hopefully that is why we have been blessed with receiving some attention. The internet is a great place to get your voice heard. We chose a few choice blogs and got some interest in our selection. We tried to provide something a bit different. Mixtapes are easy for us – we are DJs first and foremost, our background is DJing and we place emphasis on doing the job correctly. It’s super important to learn how to warm up a crowd, probably as important as it is to rock a crowd. That’s the easy part.

What were your reactions to being signed by major players in the underground scene?
As I said earlier, both were such large influences for us, so receiving praise from people you have so much musical respect for was and is amazing. One recent highlight is getting feedback from Laurent Garnier and getting charted by Booka Shade. The major releases allowed us to reach people we would have never been able to reach before. At the start of our career we had a few offers from a few labels, but none felt right. I think we did a good job in biding our time and waiting for the right opportunity. Both Mr Rose and Mr VonStroke are great label managers – they have an eye and ear for quality and they share the same work ethos as us.

It’s a lot of peoples dreams to play Panorama Bar, but what’s it like having a residency in the best club in the world?
They’re the hardest gigs we have in the year. Our sets there are normally at least four hours and it’s a completely different way of playing. They’re also some of the best gigs we have in the year, and we both really let our hair down after the gig and party. It really deservers the title of best club in the world, and we are so happy to be residents at what we consider to be the best night there. For our first few gigs we had the chance to warm up over four or five hours. For us it is like revisiting the early parts of our career, and it is sometimes a daunting prospect.

Is it true that you have a release on Daniel Haakmans Man Recordings? When can we expect that?
Hopefully some time later in the year – it’s something we have been chatting to him about for ages. He’s a good mate and we’re really thrilled to be working with him. We are remixing one of his tracks for his latest remix EP. Dan’s label is a big influence for us and it is cool to be asked to work with him.

What’s next after the tour?
We have plans for a live show and to write a album this year – so we need to get cracking on that – as well as gigging all over the place, including a American tour. Watch this space…

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“Panorama Bar really deservers the title of best club in the world, and we are so happy to be residents – but they’re the hardest gigs we have in the year”