He's easily one of the most respected producers in underground music today and has a fan base that stretches globally in the tens of thousands. Some may know him as Frank Zenker, most will know him as the globe trotting superstar that is Scot Project.
A man that has been quite simply pioneering hard music for well over a decade and then some, his work as a DJ Worldwide has seen him headline some of the club universe's biggest parties, for the largest brands. This of course accompanied in huge abundance by his flawless work as a Producer on both Overdose, his very own Druck and a string of other well celebrated electronic underground record labels.
Kicking off his career in the 80's and quite literally going from strength to strength to strength with every year that passes, we caught up with this hard hero for a chat about life, work, music and the forthcoming Audio Surgery Presents Christmas Madness party which he is headlining along with the Organ Donors next Friday, 21st December at the Voodoo Lounge in Southampton.
You started out in youth clubs in Frankfurt during the 80’s, what was that like, what was the scene in Germany like at that time and how did you discover the music and what made you pursue it as a life choice?
The youth clubs were just my early steps as a DJ. It wasn’t anything serious, it was just for fun and getting practice. Back then I played breakbeats, funk, soul and disco stuff. Mid / end of the 80´s I got my first sampler, keyboard and computer, so I produced my first simple tracks. I practiced a lot and spent all my money for new equipment. A few years later I went clubbing a lot and the techno scene in Germany was getting bigger every year. The early 90´s changed the whole music thing and It was a big movement and I got infected with that sound and decided to produce this music. Also, at the beginning of the 90´s, I got my first residency job as a light jockey and I quickly became a DJ in this club.
Luckily I´ve met the right people at the right time and my first proper produced track got signed by Overdose in 1993 and by surprise the third release became a big club track in 1995, “U” was licensed all over the world and from then It wasn’t really a choice to go on with the music, it basically just happened and I don’t regret anything so far.
Your international hit ‘O (Overdrive)’ was a massive success, what went into the creation of such an anthem, what do you think made it such a hit at the time and what do you think even now makes it still such a playable classic, even to this day?
I think you simply can't plan a 'hit' or successful track. I honestly did what I always did and just produced a track like all others I made in my career and there was no special aim behind it. The bassline I used for it was a bit outstanding and still works these days (even Deadmau5 just copied it a bit recently with his track 'Subliminal'). The wobbly dubstep, breakbeat bass made that track kinda outstanding until today and that all happened ten years before dubstep even existed. Guess I was ahead of time and a bit forward thinking with this track.
Of course Scot Project is not your only alias is it? There are indeed other aliases in other genres, please tell us about those and how they are doing?
Yes, I still have my other aliases like Arome, Tocs and Supermusique! The latest aliases are my real name (Frank Zenker) and Franz Branntwein, which represents my passion for other electronic music styles and sounds such as deep or tech house and techno in general. These are more side projects to explore new horizons and try new things, but I want to keep them strictly underground so far.
Your sound, like many of your fellow harder artists is constantly changing, evolving with each passing year. Many artists like yourself are now smashing genre boundaries, smashing through the rules of what should be house or what should be techno and just making these fantastic sounds as you are. Do you welcome new challenges in the Studio every day, do you enjoy and are confident in pushing boundaries with new music or sometimes do you feel maybe some sounds are a gamble? Do you enjoy the experimentation? What drives and inspires new sounds for you creatively?
Music is always in progress and even hard trance took a couple of years until it was 'ripe' as a full accepted genre. Since the last couple of years many artists such as Organ Donors or A.S.Y.S have been trying to push boundaries and try new things, which I really like and appreciate. Sure it is a gamble sometimes and some people don’t like to see their favourite artist changing too much, but I still think I keep the 'Scot Project vibe' alive, even if the bpm dropped down or the sounds changed a lot. Many producers still stick with one sound or genre and do it all over again and again. It is easy but that was never my aim for too long. It takes a portion of courage to change sounds and going different routes without losing yourself and of course the music surrounding me, always inspires me a lot. I love experiments and I have loads of tracks unreleased, some of them are probably too forward thinking and different, but for this I can use my aliases.
You are also very famous for your remix work, after developing a fantastic body of work in remixes alone, is there a particular favourite remix you’ve done yourself that you have a special place for in your heart?
I made so many remixes in the past and I kinda like all of them. I always put as much passion into the remixes as I do for my own productions. It is hard to name one particular track.
What are you listening to right now, what’s tickling your fancy personally at the moment musically? What do you listen to in the downtime?
Since I started with music I never stick with only one genre. I love nearly all kinds of electronic music and beyond. A track has to touch my senses somehow, the melody, the sounds or simply the beat, then It doesn’t really matter what style it is. Right now I fancy the hard progressive house sound, it is quite similar to hard-trance, just a bit slower and a different groove. Techno or tech and deep house are also quite interesting just like dubstep. In my downtime I listen to the likes of M83, The XX or electronica stuff in general.
You are of course the owner of Druck Records, a label that has become internationally renowned for its innovation in underground EDM. How did the label come about, how did it start, what would you it is most famous for and what’s to come from Druck and from your Studio in 2013?
I started Druck Records in 2002 together with my friend and back then studio partner Derb (alias Kai Winter). We got a lot of good production promos that time and thought to create a label to release some of them and give new artists a chance. After Overdose Records stopped their business in 2005 it was suddenly the main home base for our own productions. The first couple of years we focussed mainly on hard trance , but this changed the last few years . Druck always refused to be branded as a label releasing only one certain genre. With releases like Supermusique!, Derb or my recent W (Whooo!) EP we going in a different direction, but never losing our passion for slightly tougher sounds and in 2013 we want to be more constant with monthly releases.
Druck is the German word for pressure and I think in all of our releases you somehow hear that.
As we draw to the end of 2012, how was this year for you as a DJ, the highs, the lows, where you played, where you’d like to have played but didn’t and so on... (Please also tell us about upcoming shows you’re looking forward to)...
I´ve played some nice events this year in Holland Australia, Ireland , Germany and the UK. The crowd and vibe is still great wherever I´ve played, it was a good year so far and December will be a nice closing, with gigs in the U' and Ireland.
You are returning to the UK soon for Audio Surgery where you will be joining your old friends the Organ Donors, whom you have had an excellent creative working relationship with in recent years have you not? Tell us more about your work with them and also – what’s your favourite Organ Donors memory or story that you can tell us?
Our paths crossed a lot all through all the years and I had many nice memories with the guys and all the parties on stage or at some after parties, it's always fun! We also did some remix exchanges and I love the way the Organ Donors changed their sound constantly. Now they´ve found their own unique sound ,which I find really inspiring and fresh. For my upcoming release B (Baby) they´ve supplied an awesome remix and I cant wait to unleash this monster. We also planned a collaboration for 2013, really looking forward to this.
You’ll be part of the headlining team along with the Organ Donors at their very own Audio Surgery Christmas Madness event, are you looking forward to working with the boys again and also, whilst you’re answering that, what do you personally have planned for your Christmas Madness? What’s Christmas like for Scot Project?
Of course I’m looking forward to the Christmas Madness Event. It is always a pleasure to party with the guys and all the other great DJ's! I like the concept of Audio Surgery and I am happy to be part of it. Christmas for Scot Project isn’t that spectacular. I will be with my family and friends and keep it quiet for one or 2 days until I play my last few gigs for 2012 in Ireland and the UK.
Frank, thank you so very much for your time. We really look forward to seeing you in December, feel free to leave us with all of your links so that we can keep up with you and follow your work.