If you live in Vancouver, are any bit a of homer and enjoy new techno, then it’s likely that you’ve encountered 1800HaightStreet. Their driving melodies and billowing percussion have captured ears around the world, and for good reason. The duo has been producing and playing music for longer than a decade. Zach, known as one half of the 1800HaightStreet project and ZDBT, is a beaming example of musical proficiency, self-affirming excitement and commitment.
Fresh off the back of a European live tour, Zach sat with me to chat history, production, and plans for the future. What follows is a framed and summarized representation of our exchange.
they say being a touring DJ is really hard on your mental well-being, but I think being in a punk band in a crappy vehicle, touring North America, is probably a lot worse. But, it was still fun. I wouldn’t trade that.
Zach was born and raised in Winnipeg. He began playing the drums early: at home and at school as a percussionist. His mother bought him his first drum set at the age of ten, and encouraged him to play to his heart’s content. Since then, he has taught himself how to play, aside from some training in Latin and Afro-Cuban grooves.
He moved to Vancouver in 2008, where he began working and playing in bands. His first tour was with hardcore punk band Sick Charade in 2011, and his last was with Summering in 2015. By that point he was pretty saturated by band life and decided to transition out of it. “I got pretty fed up with playing in bands,” he told me, adding that “they say being a touring DJ is really hard on your mental well-being, but I think being in a punk band in a crappy vehicle, touring North America, is probably a lot worse. But, it was still fun. I wouldn’t trade that.”
Since then, the duo has exhibited some remarkable output. They tend to write music independently and assist the other in post-production. At the moment, Zach is churning out a track nearly every day. This makes for an abundance of work to choose from when it’s time to collaborate with a label on releases. With such a brimming portfolio, I have no doubt that 2019 will be a productive year for the 1800HaightStreet and ZDBT projects.
It was with a couple friends and bandmates, Todd and Hunter, that Zach decided to part ways from the challenges of band life, sell his drums and pick out some synthesizers. With a name from Todd to reflect the psychedelic movement of West Coast Bay Area hippies, Zach and Hunter collaborated on production that led to their first release, The Pursuit, in 2015.
When Zach and Hunter aren’t touring or in the studio, they may be on a film set. Both of them pay the bills on a film payroll, with Zach working in props and Hunter in set decoration. Zach’s schedule is less demanding so he tends to be in the studio more often and has more opportunities to perform. Nevertheless, the duo often collaborates on adapting tracks for live performance, so they have a rich live arrangement at the moment. “I prefer doing live stuff in general,” Zach explained, adding that “DJing will be mostly a solo thing in the future. It’s fun to DJ back to back, but it’s hard to do that all the time. I like to be able to explore within a DJ set.”
Moving towards solo work is a natural progression for Zach. He’s been listening to techno since the 90s when his uncle worked in a record store where he showed him some of the decade’s coolest electronic music. “[My uncle] used to make me mix tapes with banging techno and acid on it, like Hardfloor, and lots of 90s shit … I was really obsessed with the ‘Hackers’ soundtrack,” he told me.
With 30 years of techno along with hundreds of hours of solo studio work, I imagine that both his live and DJ sets are robust. I’ll be catching him in Vancouver on March 30th at Open Studios. Parties in Victoria and Edmonton are also in the works, with some European dates on the horizon.
1800’s latest album Age is available now on Bandcamp.
Thank you for your time and your words, Zach!
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