From his earliest recordings Zinc has retained a unique take, his releases defining the standard in club orientated beats for close to a decade. He first got involved in drum & bass in the early nineties as a DJ, holding down the residency at the now legendary Desire for over two years before making the step into the studio. This came about in 1991 through links at London pirate Impact FM, hooking up with fellow DJ Swift to record for Bizzy B's Brain Progression imprint. Though well received it was to be the success of his solo outings 'Super Sharp Shooter' on Ganja and 'Six Million Ways' on Frontline, which really brought him to the attention of the masses. It was around this time that he came to form True Playaz as he explains. 'Hype had been encouraging me to put a label together for some time, for me to have more control over my releases. I remember thinking at the time that I didn't really have everything a person needed to run a label though there were certain things that Hype and Pascal could do that I wasn't able to and vice versa, so we decided to start a label between the three of us.' One of the strengths behind Playaz is that all three people are involved on every level, writing the material as well as working on the releases and promoting the label. Zinc explains their roles: 'Hype is concerned with maintaining a certain level of quality and as such acts as the A&R, deciding what we release and on what format. That's good for me, because it keeps any pressure off and I don't have to worry too much - if write a track which meets the standard then it gets released and if it doesn't, it gets scrapped. Aside from that side of things, we're all equal partners though Hype will take responsibility if anything goes wrong - which is cool.' They claim that their success is through an elusive quality, difficult to pinpoint when all three producers are so entrenched in the day to day of the label, as Zinc explains: 'Although a lot of people say that they can recognise a True Playaz release, I wouldn't necessarily say that we have a different sound. We just keep doing what we're doing, avoiding getting caught up in the politics of the scene and trying not to deviate from our original intentions for the label. I guess if pushed, the main distinction within the music would be that we've kept the breaks prominent while a lot of other people have got on with that two step stuff or whatever. We certainly haven't got any special techniques or anything else that no one else knows about, I just think that primarily we've remained consistent because Hype is so critical and won't let anything that he feels is substandard go out.' So to 'Beats By Design,' Zincs first outing to step beyond the single that captures eight tracks to the vinyl supported by a CD boasting highlights from the back catalogue. Despite a number of key labels making the transition to extended players, Zinc denies that this was a conscious move for the label. 'It wasn't really planned, I just had these tracks and wanted to get them all out as opposed to releasing them as twelves over the next eight years or something! In the past I have found it difficult to record material not aimed at the dancefloor but as I've played abroad more, I've found that the clubs can be more open to different aspects of the music as opposed to within the UK where often the crowd will only want to hear one specific style. Subconsciously I think that's pushed me now to not follow the pack quite so much and do my own thing a little bit more and this project certainly gave me the chance to put a couple more weird ones on there and broaden what I was doing a little bit.' As to the lifestyle? 'It can be a bit mad sometimes and it's hard work but I wouldn't change anything I do - its all good.'

Words: Kingsley Marshall