Your favourite DJ has never been easier to catch in the modern music world. Well-known DJs play pretty much every weekend whilst ‘international’ ones can play anywhere from two to four sets in a weekend during festival season. It’s a booming industry and if you live in a major world city such as London, you’ll be able to catch your favourite spinners a few times a year.
Except for a handful and one in particular, Perlon co-founder Zip. Sure if you live in Berlin you can catch him on an almost monthly basis but if you’re in the UK or elsewhere? It’s surprisingly difficult. The last time he played here was back in February for Mint Club’s closing bonanza and in London? You’d have to go back to November 2017 to find him in a club.
Whether it’s a carefully curated decision by the man himself is up for debate. What I do know is that it does make all the more special when you’re able to catch him, and both promoters and Zip himself seem to know that. So when Half Baked announced the man himself closing their summer schedule at Number 90 along with Lowris and Sam Bangura, it was a no-brainer.
Unfortunately due to poor time keeping by yours truly, I only caught the last 45 minutes or so of Lowris properly. I can only imagine it’s difficult playing before Zip, as you can often feel the tension and expectation in the air during the sets of the previous DJs. However there was absolutely none of that. The Yoyaku associated spinner is a fantastic DJ and the dancefloor was pumping as soon as I walked in as the Frenchman strung together popping minimal and shuffling house.
Come three o’clock it was Franzmann o’clock. Ten minutes or so before the start of his set, you could him smoking, exchanging hugs and thoroughly enjoying Lowris’ set. The first half an hour of Zip’s sets are always about laying the building blocks for the rest of the set and it was no different on this occasion. Gentle minimal breezed through melodic deep house whilst the energy level began was revved up thanks to tracks like Wax Fruit’s ‘Whispers’, a melodic and charming house track contrasted with throbbing drums, just the way Zip likes it.
In the smoking area of Number 90, a lovely little venue in Hackney which runs alongside a blissful canal, I exchanged fanboy pleasantries with other Zip enthusiasts. You probably could call it a ‘cult’ considering the fanfare and die hard following that he has, although that seems a bit sinister, fanboy club is probably a better shout.
For someone with such a light touring schedule (as of posting, he has only one scheduled gig), it might seem bizarre but the reason is simple, there are very few DJs, if any, who are as good at DJing than him. Fellow spinners such as The Ghost, Andrew James Gustav and Laurine have become some of underground music’s key talents and they all quote Zip as a key influence. The rarity of seeing him play also likely feeds into the excitement of finally getting to see him.
The second half of the set was free flowing as the room progressed into a classic party spirit and the music reflected it. MBG’s ‘Jumping Trip’ promptly whipped the crowd into a frenzy as soon as the first breakdown was recognised. Half Baked upping the soundsystem in the form of added D&B stacks went a long way in ensuring the night was a success.
The Perlon Boss was up to his usual tricks, quick mixes, tracks playing out, playing tracks for only a minute or two just to transition. Of course, the most signature trick was how he manages to toy with the audience, the average DJ gradually raises the energy levels but they’re always on an upwards trajectory. However, great ones, who are seemingly able to create a mental map three or five tracks ahead, can toy with the energy levels to create a truly hypnotic mindset. Dan Curtin’s Convergence and Soul Capsule’s ‘Seekers’ showcased Zip’s rare ability to induce a crowd into a frenzy and then mellow them out again without ever disrupting the flow.
The night climaxed with a soothing deep house track, with scintillating saxophone solos resonating throughout Hackney, I couldn’t help but think ‘How many more Zip sets do I have to see?’ If I were to go to no more UK festivals or travel abroad, I may not see him for another two years. ‘Who cares?’ I concluded it always makes it all the more worthwhile when I see that Zip smile.