MVRemix interviews rappers, singers, artists and rockstars

DJ Z-Trip conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Still Trippin'

April 2005

Heavily praised throughout the globe as one of the world's best DJ's, Z-Trip is finally releasing his debut major label release "Shifting Gears" through Hollywood Records on April 26th. With the likes of Grandmaster Cash, Whipper Whip and Chuck D making appearances, intertwined with Chester Bennington (Linkin' Park), Murs, Supernatural and Lyrics Born - the album is quite an experience. I took some time to chat with Z-Trip about a variety of subjects... read on.

MVRemix: Who, or what inspired you to achieve your goal of being a DJ because I've read about how you've neglected relationships and such in order to persist... What spurred that on?

Z-Trip: Honestly I would have to say for the mere fact that I found out that I was actually pretty good at something and I knew that I could be successful at it. And so, I don't know whether it was one person or somebody other than myself and sort of my drive and also that I enjoy doing it. Half of it was I neglected a lot of things to make it happen, but also because I love it so much.

When you love something as much as I do DJ'ing and music and you're actually able to get a paycheck at the end of the day for it - it sort of doesn't become work anymore, it becomes a passion. Also, when I realized I was okay and I wasn't the best - but I didn't suck... That's when I actually set out to take this as far as I can take it. I didn't really know... there was no ceiling - not knowing where it's gonna go or where it's gonna end up. I'm really happy that I've been stoked and so successful with it, but I also never know what's around the corner. Technically to a degree you have to be on your toes about that.

MVRemix: Everyone that sees you live goes on and on about how awe-struck they were. Who inspired your live performance?

Z-Trip: God, you know I can't say there's one person in particular either on that. It's sort of a combination of my upbringing - my brother having the musical knowledge that he had and what he brought to the table (as far as turning me onto music before I actually knew what "Hip Hop" was and the whole sort of Rock element was all his doing). But then again, at the same time, the people that I had recognized (people like Marley Marl, Red Alert, Bambaata or Jazzy Jay) had always inspired me to push the boundaries and try new things. Not everything would always work but it's one of those things where I think also on top of me and my upbringing was every other DJ that I was playing with or playing that night, playing in the town I was playing in or the show I was playing at... Every DJ to me didn't all sound the same, but they had the same records. And a lot of them were playing and doing the same things with the same records and I thought "Well, that's good," but there's so much more you can do.

If you stretch out a little bit, you may lose a lot of people but at least you're pushing boundaries and I've always backed that. If anybody can sort of push it and do something that hasn't been done, or just do it differently for that matter then that's I think the reason why it works or could work. And also the reason why I get into it so much - I don't know how many times I would go to a show and hear two or three DJ's play before me and I could tell (but I could tell the crowd couldn't tell) what the difference was between the two. I tried to make sure that I stood out and not so much for the whole point of standing out but just for going like "Hey guys, your crowd isn't necessarily just gonna be a crowd that listens to "Hip Hop" music. They might listen to all sorts of different styles and you've got to recognize that because if not, you're not really going out as far as you can." A lot of DJ Z-Trip interviewspeople play it safe. I try not to play it safe.

MVRemix: Now sort of continuing on from the whole Rock upbringing, why was it that you got into DJ'ing as opposed to going into a band or something along those lines?

Z-Trip: I did. Actually, I played drums (that's how I started) before anything. My brother played guitar and my mom played guitar, keyboards and sang. So we were always playing music in the family. I thought drums were the closest thing I could get to (DJ'ing) because I loved beats. I loved percussion and tempo's, changes and stills. I just loved the anchor of being locked into a beat. I found with DJ'ing I could actually achieve some of the same principles of drumming. Some of the records I was getting into were very beat based. That was sort of what drew me in. Plus all the rock music I listened to was mostly beat driven - Led Zepplin, AC/DC... things like that were very beat driven records. Technically that was sort of it. I tried the rock band thing - played with my brother's friends and we'd do a house party here [and there] when I was super young. But after a while I realized I could have more control and be the band with DJ'ing and still keep the drumming element to it.

MVRemix: You've had your material featured on a lot of independent video's, Shorty's "Guilty" (Skateboarding) for example. How do you feel when you have certain tracks of yours played to a different image? And how do you feel when it's done without your consent?

Z-Trip: The thing is I don't mind my music being put in Skate videos or Snowboard videos because that's cool. I get down with that, I can relate. It's almost like getting props - like if you're a punk band and you get your song in one of those things, that's cool. If I get something I've done in one of those things - it's cool. People actually give a shit enough to want to put it in their video. I think that's an honour actually. Without my consent? There's sort of an unwritten law I think, that goes on in Hip Hop. That a lot of people don't realize. If you put somebody else on, and you give them props and you play their record or you champion their sound. That's what you want. You want people going "Yo man, you've gotta hear this." That's exactly what you do want. Or "What is that, how can I hear that?" That's how it spreads. We don't really and I still think to this day, we don't have a correct version of an outlet. We don't have a really good radio station, we don't have a really good means to get all this music out - the real dirt. The real underground shit. If you can get on a college radio station, you've made it in that realm. That to me is sort of sad because some of this music has the ability to go overseas... Has the ability to hit all sort of people and doesn't get heard because it doesn't have necessarily the right vehicle. Having a song of mine on a Skate video, or on a mixtape or whatever is really cool. It's what I try and do when I put mixtapes together is I try and grab all the people that I think would dig it and would be down. That's sort of the whole thing - Hip Hop is very based on the shout out. It's very based on the recognition that I'm helping him out, he's helping me out. I think there's that spectrum of the fine line when you have a big company with a lot of money and a lot to offer and they take it and don't necessarily give the right recognition back. Or, they just sort of take it on face value. There's a way to do it cool, and there's a way to do it not cool. I could get into all the differences between what is and what isn't cool, but if you know the time and you can sort of put two and two together. You'll realize when someone's getting fucked and when someone's getting props. I would think.

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