For Interplanetary Criminal, the only way is up from B.O.T.A.

100%: Following the runaway success of his and Eliza Rose’s Number One hit, Zach Bruce has a fresh UKG compilation up his sleeve.

Zach Bruce, AKA Interplanetary Criminal, is still in his pyjamas as he Zooms in from his flat in Manchester. It’s only 11am, mind you, and it’s baltic outside.

We’re refusing to put our heating on at the minute,” the DJ-producer says, his own hyper-local protest at the UK’s rising energy bills. We’ve made a pact that we’ll dress really, really appropriately.” For now, that means a cosy fleece get-up.

These weather conditions have nothing to do with what the climate looked like when Bruce and East London musician Eliza Rose released their surprise hit last June: the thumping, sexy B.O.T.A. (Baddest of Them All).

It turned out to be the song of a particularly sweltering British summer, shooting to Number One for two weeks in September and soundtracking tens of thousands of TikToks. B.O.T.A. was crowned a bonafide anthem by club kids and festival-goers all over the country.

Bruce, previously a fairly underground producer, is still riding the wave, having played back-to-back shows for the last few weeks. It’s been really, really fun. I did a six-hour set at [East London’s] Pickle Factory the other night. I was completely sober, just eating Haribos. And it was fine!”

Raised all around the North of England, Bruce, 28, grew up listening to rap music. When he was a kid, Tupac and Elton John’s Ghetto Gospel collab was king, and hip-hop infiltrated every part of his life. Buying me rap records for Christmas and my birthday just became the easiest thing for my parents to do, and as a result I couldn’t imagine doing anything other than music.”

While enrolled at the School of Sound Recording in Manchester, Bruce moved to Leeds, where he’d go to nights that played techno, in turn emboldening him to start producing his own stuff. Over the last few years, he’s established himself as one of the UK’s foremost garage revivalists – and, well, a chart-topping DJ.

Bruce has more bangers up his sleeve: he’s dropping a garage compilation, All Thru The Night, via legendary label Locked On. Featuring both up-and-comers and old school legends, the offer from the label was quite a big thing for me,” he says. The older generation appreciating your work, it shows there are people who are out there listening.”

As a taster, Bruce has dropped Don’t Hurt Me, a classic garage tune with a grisly bassline made in collaboration with Manchester band Porij. Everyone involved is super sick,” he assures us. These are the people who are influencing garage in 2023.”

10% Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?

I was born in Blackburn. My mum’s half Singaporean – her parents moved back to the North of England before I was born. We moved about quite a lot when I was child. I lived in Liverpool, then we moved to Bolton when I was really young. Now I’m in Manchester. There’s a really strong music scene here at the minute.

20% What kinds of emotions and experiences influence your work?

For me, context is everything. At the beginning, UKG was dark and gritty, inspired by El‑B and Zed Bias. Manchester is an incredible place, but I’ve always been fascinated by how miserable it can be – it’s always raining! The club scene feels very DIY, and 2‑step definitely influenced my sound. Speed garage is so raw but playful at the same time. It feels undeniably Northern.

30% Why do you think there’s a renewed appetite for UK garage?

It’s all nostalgia, especially with TikTok. My mum used to listen to a bunch of Lauryn Hill, she’d play it in the car. And when I was living in Leeds, my mate had the record [The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill]. Her Ex-Factor tune, I’d not heard in years, but as soon as it was on there was an instant connection. I felt quite emotional about it and there must be that connection in dance music now, especially if you hear an old sample.

40% When B.O.T.A. became a hit, how did things change for you?

B.O.T.A. opened the door to this newfound music industry that you wouldn’t ever think existed. Before, I was very comfortable in my career. I felt like people responded well to my music. But now you’ve got this Number One and your name’s attached to it. It was quite challenging, in a good way.

50% If you could travel back in time to see an iconic music act perform, who would it be?

Amy Winehouse.

60% If you’re cooking food to impress someone, what will you make?

Something exciting, like creamy pasta.

70% What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?

When I was living in Leeds and had just released my first record with E‑Beamz, I had a call with this geezer who was looking to put new artists on his roster. I sent a bunch of music over to him and he told me it sounded very generic – that I should focus on creating my own sound. At the time, I felt hard done by, but it’s always stuck with me. Sometimes the hardest criticism can be crucial.

80% You rule the world for a day. What went down?

Give Big Ang a damehood.

90% What’s something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I like to experience Maccies in every country.

100% Name something you love, something you like and something you hate.

I love being home in Manchester, I like watching Top 10 lists on YouTube and I hate not being able to smoke in clubs.

All Thru The Night is released on 29th March via Locked On Records.

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