DJ Ron: When did you start spinning?
James Zabiela: I started DJing when I was fifteen, I got my decks for Christmas some Sound Aloud Dial Giles turntables.
Ron: Were they a gift from your dad?
James: Yes. Its all his fault basically, because he used to work in the record shop and bring home loads of techno records. Then I ended up working in the record shop for my school work experience.
Ron: So from the time you were fourteen or fifteen you were working in a record store?
James: Yes, just like a work experience thing, and then when I was sixteen I left school and I worked in a record store then as well and thats when I really caught the bug.
Ron: Did your dad give you some tips or did you just teach yourself how to do it?
James: My dad never was a DJ, he just bought the records. He only had one turntable, he was just into acid house and techno in a big way. So, I just sort of learned when I worked in the record shop; it wasnt like a busy record shop so I spent a lot of the times during the day how to mix.
Ron: Did you go out to clubs and watch DJs there?
James: No, because I was too young. I occasionally went out because I knew the promoters through the record shop. So, Id go and just hang out in the DJ booth and stuff. I remember I went and saw Sasha and I saw Oakenfold when they were in town.
Ron: Are there any DJs you looked up to as you were learning?
James: Pretty much everyone. When you first start learning, you dont really know anything, you just want to absorb, like a sponge. I used to borrow the mix tapes from the shop and listen to them while I cycled home, on my Walkman, and then bring them back the next day.
Ron: How did you hear about the Muzik Bedroom DJ competition?
James: I used to buy the magazine and I saw it in there, and I saw it as a good opportunity, as a window in. Because I was playing locally but I didnt know how to take the next step and Im not very good at sort of pushing myself in peoples faces, Ive never been one to sell myself.
Ron: So were not going to see you in the fashion layouts in HM or something?
Ron: A DJ about the music, this is very refreshing. When you entered the contest, what did you think your chances were?
James: Quite minimal, I mean I entered actually a few times before I won.
Ron: What was it about your tape that you think got you the winner of it?
James: I dont know. If I look back now, the tape was actually not very good. You know, what Im doing now is so different to what I was doing then but I dont know if it was, I guess the editor of the magazine just really was into it for some reason.
Ron: So from this one tape Sasha discovered you and picked you up, or is there more to the story?
James: I gave the tape to Lee Burridge and he passed it on to Sasha who in turn called me up and was listening to it in his car and stuff, which is just a really big deal for me at the time. And thats pretty much it, I was at Bedrock one night, and I used to go there every month just to hand out tapes. It was one of those places where everyones at, so I used to go there with ten mix tapes and get stopped at the door by the bouncers, set the metal detectors off. But yes, it was Lee Burrages fault.
Ron: So once you got on Sashas agency, did the world explode and everyone wanted to book you, or what was the next step after that?
James: I started touring opening nights with Sasha, being his warm-up DJ for a while. It was after a few gigs with him that things really started going bananas. It was a bit mad, its not really slowed down, its kind of just been an ascent from then until now.