The Londoner's debut album 'Truth In My Steps' finds him spreading his musical wings wider than ever
It's been over a decade now since London-based DJ and producer Seb Zito first rose to fame as one of the residents at London house and techno party FUSE. Alongside Enzo Siragusa, Rich NxT and Rossko, he helped guide FUSE from its formative years at 93 Feet East to the internationally renowned events brand and record label it is today.
Which presumably kept the lad quite busy, because it's only now, a full decade into his production career, that he's finally got around to recording his debut album.
It was worth the wait. Coming on Eats Everything's Edible label and opening with pirate radio skit Mission FM, Truth In My Steps is, taken as a whole, a near-textbook example of what some are calling “the London sound” – a heady fusion of house, techno, tech-house, UK garage, jungle, breaks, rave and Afro influences that could only have come about in the particular musical, racial and cultural melting pot that is the UK's capital in the 21st Century.
Or if you want to be a bit less philosophical and chin-strokey about it, it's a damn fine collection of sinuous electronic grooves that evidence a deep understanding of dance music history and draw on a wide range of influences but always keep both feet firmly on the dancefloor, and that are never, ever shy to bust out a big, bad bassline, a funky-ass breakbeat, a rave horn, a familiar vocal snip or a lil' 303 squelch should the situation demand it. Either's good.
'Good' isn't the word we'd apply to the album, though – try 'spectacular'. So we did that thing we do when we like a record, where we ask the person who made it some questions. Enjoy.
As you haven't spoken to iDJ before, can you start by telling us a little bit about your background, and how you came to be listening to/playing/making electronic music in the first place?
“I started listening to pirate radio after meeting a group of DJs and MCs who played on Dream FM. Originally most of the stations at that time was playing hardcore and jungle, but I stumbled across Chicago FM which was playing US house and garage, and from that moment I was hooked.
“Myself and my friend at that time borrowed some belt-drive turntables and started buying vinyl at every chance we could. From then we started playing house parties and did a few club shows, one in particular was on a Thursday night warming up for So Solid Crew at Hanover Grand in the West End. At that time we were playing house and garage and slowly moved into house music. From there, we secured a weekly show on Subjam FM and started doing parties at Dust Bar on Clerkenwell Road. After a few successful parties we moved on to Turnmills and teamed up with Trace from Smartie Partie to take on a monthly residency – this was where I honed my craft as a DJ.
“Fast-forward a few years and I joined Enzo with Circuit and FUSE, and from FUSE I began my productions for the FUSE London label. You could say I started the production side quite late in my career as I always only wanted to be a DJ, but better late than never, hey?”
Your debut album Truth In My Steps is about to drop… after a decade in the production game that must feel like quite an achievement?
“I've never really thought much about doing an album, because electronic music for me is for nightclubs and raves: I've never consumed it as an album, only EP's. In fact, when Dan [Eats Everything] asked if I was up for it, I honestly didn't believe that I could do it… so for that reason, I'm super-happy with how it turned out.”
How did you come to hook up with Dan originally?
“I was sending him music all the time, and he randomly replied to some demos and signed Slap Dash along with two other tracks. That EP did really well and that was the start of it all.”
You're arguably best known, or certainly became so, as a FUSE resident, and much of your back catalogue has come on the FUSE label. So why not this album?
“I started this album around two and half years ago, and at that time the majority of my music was on FUSE and INFUSE. So I wanted to expand a little, try out something different and reach out to other fans that might not know of my sound.”
The album opens with Mission FM, which as you started out on pirate radio I'm guessing is a nod to your early days. So tell us about them!
“Chicago FM was the first house and garage station I discovered, and that later changed to Mission FM, it was my go to station and would listen to it whenever I could. At the start I was part of a crew (we called ourselves Nights Of The Round Table). We played garage and had two MCs, we got a graveyard slot on Ice FM but unfortunately the DTI locked it off that night and the link we had fizzled out.
“We never really went any further but a few years on, myself and my friend went under the name Funky Disciples and ended up on Subjam FM and then moved to Unknown FM. Those were some of my fondest memories of my music career and it forged who I am today.”
The default media description for you seems to be “house and techno DJ” but it seems to me that the garage influence is just as strong…
“Garage will always be at the heart and soul of what I do in music and I think that shows in my sound. I like to try and combine styles, just like I do in my DJ sets. I've never really wanted a default sound or style because I love everything within the electronic scene. As I've got older that's definitely become more of a driving factor on how I play and make music.”
On Truth In My Steps, you seem to be deliberately stretching out and covering a wider range of musical ground. I can hear bits of house, garage, techno, jungle, rave and breaks in there… but is that “because it's an album”, a declaration of intent for the future, or drawing a line under the past? Or none of the above?
“At the beginning, my thought process was to be as varied as possible within the styles that I love, but still keep it club-focused. I enjoyed bouncing between styles so much that it has become somewhat of a declaration for my future sound where everything is possible.
"You will definitely see more variation in the coming years, with me stepping out of my comfort zone more – but the past will always fuel what I do to an extent.”
Tell us a bit about the making of the album. Were you drawing on a pool of 50 tracks you had lying around, did you sit down and make 11 tracks as one continuous project, or was it a bit of both?
“I just locked myself in the studio and grafted solid for a few months. Within that time I created around 20 tracks, and then I handpicked the final 11 with Dan and his team. My mindset was just to create, and try not to focus so much on the sound but keep things varied in styles.”
You run your own Seven Dials label, so what's going on there – and again, why didn't you put the album out through Seven Dials?
“Seven Dials didn't exist when I agreed the album with Dan and his team! But it did come shortly after and it's a great way of connecting with emerging artists and giving them a platform to showcase their skills.The overall sound is house and garage but that can be expanded out to breaks, rave and UK techno."
Now that album #1 is out the way, is it full steam ahead with album #2 or should we expect another 10-year wait?
“Ha ha! Well, I did a mini Bandcamp album of sketches I made during lockdown… there is also another album pending, but I'm not going to reveal anything about that just yet.”
Finally, what else is going on for you right now that iDJ readers need to know about?
“I have an album tour planned for this year, which hopefully will ahead, and I'm also working on some interesting projects musically, which I'll release later this year or early next year.”
Words: Russell Deeks
Truth In My Steps is out on Edible Records tomorrow (9 April) – buy it here.
Tags: Seb ZIto, FUSE, Edible Records, Eats Everything, Seven Dials, Enzo Siragusa, Rich NxT, Rossko, 93 Feet East, Chicago FM, Subjam FM, Ice FM, Mission FM, So Solid Crew, house, garage, jungle, rave, breaks