Inside The Track with Zombie Nation
When you hear the words ‘Zombie Nation’, you instantly think of the classic track ‘Kernkraft 400’ that slayed the world’s dancefloors in 1999 and even peaked at number 2 in the UK charts. To this day, the track is still played and sung across the world’s biggest stadiums as an unofficial sporting anthem. Not a bad debut track from German DJ and producer Florian Senfter!
His latest Zombie Nation release is the 4-track ‘Something Else’ EP on Tiga’s heavyweight Turbo Recordings. Now recording out of New York City, the latest Zombie Nation EP brings some seriously underground pressuer to the table. All four cuts offer bouncing bass lines straight outta Brooklyn, with the funky filth of ‘Horsework’ sure to find a space on many a DJ’s USB stick.
We sat down with Florian to discuss this heavyweight release and to find out more about how it was produced, as we went Inside The Track with Zombie Nation.
Congratulations on your new ‘Something Else’ EP via Tiga’s Turbo Recordings imprint. How is it being received in your sets and how are other club DJs responding to it?
Very good! Testing new songs in front of an audience on a big club sound system is the best. Where else do you get that immediate feedback? The DJ promo response on the release has also been excellent.
Tell us more about ‘Something Else’ from the EP. What was the main inspiration behind this track and what prompted its musical direction?
Last year Daniel at Elektron Machines was planning an ‘Elektron Machines Only’ show in Brooklyn and asked if I wanted to play. I’ve known the guy for a long time and I like challenges, so I spent a month preparing that live set. It was a one-time only show, but by doing it, I developed some great ideas for tracks. After the show, I took the best 3 sequences, finished the arrangement and mixed in Cubase. This took me a couple of months. I don’t know why sh*t takes me a long time! ha
On the production side, what is it about the ‘Something Else’ track that makes it work?
After recording the tracks I felt that the bass needed to stand out more, so I lifted it by using the UAD Ampex tape machine as a stereo delay. I’m usually more a mono bass guy, but it worked too well with the bass being the primary element. Other than that, I kept it simple and kicked out all the unnecessary elements, emphasizing the bass and the vocal sample. I added some variations and a classic string element which comes from the all-around awesome DIVA VST. In the end, what makes it work for me is my personal workflow of combining hardware production, software arrangement, mixing and then again a combined hardware /software mastering approach. I know it sounds technical, but the integration of the technical aspect into the creative process is important to me to achieve my sound.
Is there one machine, program or technique that characterizes your sound?
For this EP, it is definitely the Elektron Analog Rytm, because 90% of the sounds on this release came from it! It’s a marvellous machine and it will reward you only if you connect with it in the right way. If you love it, the Elektron Analog Rytm will love you back. If you expect it to love you first and make things easy for you, then you will have a complicated relationship! ha!
What is the one piece of kit that you simply cannot do without?
Overall that would be the Akai MPC series. I started making music with the MPC 2000 and then went through all the models. Right now I am using the widely forgotten MPC 4000. This machine doesn’t get enough credit. It is huge and heavy, but it is the most powerful hardware sampler ever made. I was touring with it for a couple of years until I decided that it is crazy to drag a 14kg machine around! I even modded it by drilling holes into the metal in order to make it lighter. There are more efficient and convenient tools, but the MPC 4000 is my instrument of choice. To me, it is the essence of sample-based music production.
Any advice for your fans how to make it in today’s fast paced game?
For me, you’ve ‘made it’ every time you create a song that makes you happy! Of course, we all want to be told how amazing we are by others. But that can’t be the measure of success, because most people like sh*t music and you don’t want to feed into that. So do what you love, be bold, don’t play it safe and magical things will happen!