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Bryan Zentz- Doing Things to Excess is the American Way

Author: Jonty Adderley
Saturday, March 1, 2003
"It's a part of our culture, we always go over the top. It's like eating fast food; everything is super-sized. So people get carried away which gives techno a bad name."

With recent research suggesting junk food is as addictive as heroin and cocaine, Bryan Zentz's assessment of why some American clubbers take too many drugs makes sense. The Virginia based producer also believes America's culture of greed and excess is one of the main reasons US authorities are cracking down ever tighter on club-land.

"If everybody was cooled out and responsible then there would be no excuses for them to shut parties down," he told Skrufff's Jonty Adderley.

"They can't dictate what music people people listen to but then when you get all these kids laying on the floor, that's clearly not about fun. I'm not saying every single gig in America is like that, but some are."

The parties he was referring to were principally techno events though his own musical interests stretch far beyond the genre. A long term friend of Chad Hugo from hip hop stars The Neptunes, he's always favoured diversity over purity, which he amply demonstrates on his new album 7 Breaths (Troublesome Dub even features Chad on saxaphone). However, with lead single D Clash already dominating techno dance floors and a past that includes music released for Richie Hawtin's (Plastikman), his techno credentials remain impeccable.

Skrufff (Jonty Adderley): 7 Breaths is quite varied musically, covering dub to techno to house, was that a deliberate intention when you started working on it-

Bryan Zentz: "I did the record off and on over the course of a year and during that year I moved into a new apartment, got new neighbours and started hearing new music being played in the background and felt refreshed by the whole move. This kind of music (techno) is very single orientated so personally when I do a single I end up jamming as many ideas as I can onto four tracks. With an album you get more of a chance to tell a story and to me the tracks that are more important on this record are the ones which aren't so dance-floor orientated. I've had an outlet for dance-floor music since 1994, so this album represents a small chance for me to express myself wider, reflecting the wider range of music I listen to at home. I really don't listen to dance music at home."

Skrufff: I understand you're old friends with America's biggest hip hop producers of the moment The Neptunes, did you go to school with them-

Bryan Zentz: "Nah, I didn't go school with them but I used to hang out (socialise) with Chad, who's one half of those guys. He was actually making techno before I got started and he used to play at the first warehouse raves in Washington DC. I met him as somebody who was making music, we made friends and we'd hang out and trade musical ideas. We did go to college together where he took a jazz class while I was studying studio recording so we'd bump into each other there, too. Shortly after college he started working with (R&B producer) Teddy Riley. It's funny (strange), because they are now super-producers but our whole vibe at home was always about going against the grain. That's why stuff from our area (Virginia) became successful. People still say 'Why does one of the Neptunes dress like a skateboarder-'."

Skrufff: We're you ever tempted to try and meet Teddy Riley and head off in a similar musical direction to the Neptunes-

Bryan Zentz: "I'm not really in that world. I like hip hop and I started making hip hop before techno but Chad is a seriously talented musician, he can play loads of instruments well and he started as a session musician initially. I'm not into R&B and I can't play the saxophone."

Skrufff: What was the idea behind your new single D Clash-
Bryan Zentz: "The whole point of the song is that it's a tribute to this one piece of gear that came out in the 80s, a Yahama synthesizer that you can pick up second hand for like 2