Getting It Right: An Interview With Bradley Zero
19 August 2016
‘Be a very open individual - no pretention…no paranoia – no anything.’
Boiler Room’s Thris Tian and Nic Tasker along with British DJ, label owner (and all round institution) Gilles Peterson gush about Bradley Zero in a fascinating little documentary style interview by Stamp The Wax, that gives us a little peek into the life of the Peckham DJ and Rhythm Section show-runner.
For the uninitiated - Bradley Zero is a Peckham (a district in South-East London) native who’s known best for his all-vinyl Rhythm Section nights and eponymous record label, which hosts the likes of Henry Wu and Al Dobson Jr. His love for collecting music early on created an organic path to DJing, hosting a radio show and eventually running his own, very successful club night. Bradley caught the attention of the Boiler Room team (a year and a half old at the time) who were drawn to his on-stage magnetism, vast knowledge of and impeccable taste in music (also, “politeness”).
It’s his genuine love for the music and what he does that’s so compelling. Bouncing and singing along behind the console, describing Nina Simone’s ‘Sinnerman’ with a kind of doting that puts our mums to shame and talking about the importance of community without posturing or pretension – Bradley Zero makes it clear that he’s in it for the right reasons.
His Rhythm Section nights (always Bradley + a guest on the console) don’t rely on formula, safe 4x4 formats or big names to work. Like any good club night that can stand the test of time, it’s all about the people, and building a community.
WAVLNGTH gets it right again by bringing down the selector for a 4 city tour this week (Mumbai’s done and we heard it was a riot). Bradley Zero performs tonight in New Delhi at Summer House Café with new kid on the block (and one to watch out for) – Mistress a.k.a. Vikram Singh.
We managed to get hold of a very busy Bradley and got him to tell us a little about himself and the industry that drives him.
Tell us a little bit about how you first got involved in the music industry back home?
I started doing radio on a local station but the break really came when I took matters into my own hands and put on my own party.
What’s the key ingredient in building a good club night like Rhythm Section, and how has it evolved since it first began?
I think the key is community. The party already had a following before it began. The party was always about the dancers, not big name guests. Not much changed since it began 5 years ago.
India specifically is still at a nascent stage where the scene is relatively small, still testing the waters. How do you nurture something like that into something meatier, and build a community the way Rhythm Section has?
Keep doing what you believe in and the people will come. One thing you can't fake is passion and that's the biggest draw. Put out the right vibrations and the crowd will resonate on your wavelength!
You’ve got a no-photo policy at Rhythm Section, but you’ve also hosted gigs for Boiler Room, which is the exact opposite in terms of visual exposure. How much does the presence of cameras affect the vibe on a dance-floor?
It has a huge effect! People forget Boiler Room is a showcase- not a pure party. It's an archive. I want my party to be about being in the moment, not feeling the gaze of a camera - but closing off all external stimuli and getting lost in music.
Why did you feel the need to start a label and what were you trying to achieve with it? Any particular artists from Rhythm Section International that should currently be on our radar?
Music and DJing to me is about sharing and this wasn't only the next logical step- but the fulfilment of a lifelong compulsion. I'm releasing music from a few new artists this year - look out for Mallard, Duke Hugh and Earth Trax. You heard it here first!
You listen to and play a really wide range of music - tell us a little about how you look for new records?
In local record stores like Yam, rye wax and Phonica- but increasingly from unreleased music landing in my inbox. I also like to keep up to date with what some of my favourite radio DJs play- the likes of Benji b and Gilles Peterson.
You’ve also played some Indian tunes in your sets over the years. Any favourites?
Bappi Lahiri and RD Burman's discography is too vast to even know where to start but I consistently discover ground-breaking recordings by both of them. I'm also a big fan of the music of Illiaraja (the Tamil composer) and the Lollywood sounds of M. Ashraf.
First time playing in India. One thing you’re looking forward to, one thing you’re afraid of.
It's always exciting to play a new country- especially one that isn't used to underground artists such as myself coming to visit. I think because the crowds don't take anything for granted- the energy and love they give me is unbeatable- I'm looking forward to channel this energy into creating some special moments.
Slightly afraid of mosquitoes and various tropical diseases- none of which I was immunised against....fingers crossed!
Image credit (thumb): Drew Wheeler