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DJ Z-Trip conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Still Trippin'

April 2005

MVRemix: Now with regards to "Shifting Gears," why did you choose that title?

Z-Trip: For a couple different reasons actually. There's sort of three different reasons - the first is sort of along the lines that halfway through making this record I was stuck in a situation where I was trying to make a record that was a mix record and sort of showcased what I do as a DJ and basically make it happen that way. About a year into it we just couldn't get shit cleared. People didn't have a system set up to address my kind of mixing. It just wasn't in the cards and so basically a years worth of me working on it yielded no results - nothing really good. So, halfway into it I had to turn around and technically "shift gears" and make a producer record. I had to make a record that had to be something completely different.

The second thing is that in the album I had to come with all different kinds of music that I liked and wanted to come with different styles of stuff, so this record was all over the place. I thought how am I gonna string this altogether and make it make sense. Well what makes sense? Say you're shifting gears (and this is really corny), but say you're going on a trip and you have to go from point A to point B - you're shifting gears all the way; going up hills and going along dirt-roads. Going slow, going fast and to me it's all sort of under the guise that you're in a car going on a journey and you have this physical thing you're going to have to continue to do. That sort of made sense musically with all these songs. One was a fast one, one was a slow one. One was up, one was down. One was funny, one was sad. One was whatever. So that sort of made sense. Let me just shift gears through it.

Then the physical, the last thing is... Sorry for the long winded - but that's explaining the name. The last thing is that the album itself starts out on an ode to early Hip Hop and the sounds that got me open to it. The party rockin' and whatnot and having people like Whipper Whip on it over an Ol' School track. Then having someone like Lyrics Born, who's "new" over an Ol' School sounding track. It started out like that and eventually through the course of the record ends up on a very current sort of thing with Chuck D speaking about things which are going on right now, and the song that I did with Chester (Linkin' Park) which is very much a "now" sound. So that's sort of the deal. It's a travel, it's a journey. That's sort of the whole point - it just made sense to call it that. And plus, I'm getting out of (or at least I like to think I am) the DJ'ing in front of everybody and having to do house parties for living, and trying to get into "Hey, I can produce records" or I can actually make records. The journey that the Dr. Dre's and the DJ Premier's have made from being a DJ to a producer. Sorry for the long, long answer.

MVRemix: No, no, it was good. But sort of following on... How did the Grandmaster Cash appearance come about?

Z-Trip: I met him and Whipper Whip at the same party, which was actually the Charile Ahearn book signing party for "Yes, Yes, Y'all." Basically both of those guys were there and I sort of met them and spoke with them, DJ'ing for Grandmaster Cash at the party. There were turntables there and somebody happened to be recording it on a cassette and in the middle of me spinning he stopped me and said "Yo, I wanna kick this acapella," and he went into it. It was a little tense because here was this guy who was breaking down a little bit - you could sort of hear it in his voice on his speech. It was really dope and I was trying to explain to people what was happening after the show was over. I couldn't really explain to people correctly; it was like telling people "The fish was "this" big! It got away. You should've seen it." A friend of mine was taping it on cassette and he ended up giving me a copy. It sort of embodied everything I'm trying to say with this record and he says it in one line, "My name is Hip Hop and I've always existed." I was like "Fuck man, that's it. That's the crown jewel on this record." I hit him up about it, he was down and so here we are.

MVRemix: Was the track from the original recording then?

Z-Trip: What do you mean?

MVRemix: Well basically, it's really crisp and clear on the record.

Z-Trip: Yeah, no it's from the cassette. It's clear and crisp and clean and whatnot. But it also has a bit of a dirty feel with the crowd in there and shit. It was a moment that got captured. The fact that it was recorded on cassette [so you've got the whole room in there] was just dope to me. The whole fact that it happened and the whole fact that I have it on the record. The fact that it translated and he was down to put it on there... It just helps to sort of paint the picture a litle bit. A lot of people don't really know about that dude; that he wrote the lyrics to "Rappers Delight" and that he never got any credit for it. A lot of people don't know his story, and the same thing with Whipper Whip or the same thing with a lot of people who sort of came up from that time. There's so much history that's lost and I really wanted to make a point to include that on the record 'cause that's where it came from. That's where I came from. That's my background.

MVRemix: Have fun with this one, a la "Fight Club," "If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?"

Z-Trip: That's a good question. [contemplates] George Bush, I'd fight George Bush! DJ Z-Trip interviews

MVRemix: Would you win?

Z-Trip: If it was just me and him? Yeah, I'd win. But chances are, it would never happen like that. That's probably the one I'd wanna fight. Either him or [Bill] O'Reilly. O'Reilly burns the shit out of me.

MVRemix: Is there a genre of music that doesn't mesh well with you?

Z-Trip: [ponders] Yeah, Trance. Trance music doesn't really lend itself too well. In my opinion.

MVRemix: Is that just in the DJ'ing side or is that also in your comfort when you listen to it alone?

Z-Trip: I tend to think it's a little bit of both. But now I'm stepping into a category where you've got Trance DJ's who're making millions doing what they do, and they're doing it with DJ'ing. So technically it works. But to me, it's sort of the new age music of today. It's a very niched market and they do what they do wonderfully. I just feel like a lot of it has no soul. It's very mindless and very gutless. That to me is the kind of music that I can't really find myself doing anything with or really appreciating because it doesn't necessarily serve a purpose for me. But that's just me. Again, it's my preference. I don't want to sit and bash that scene or those guys. I just don't get it. It's easy it mix, it's probably the easiest shit in the world to mix. That's why there's a million DJ's like it.

MVRemix: Is there anything aside from the album that you've been working on? Any projects you've guest appeared on, or things that are in the works...

Z-Trip: There's this Jackson 5 remix that I did for this Motown remix album that they've got coming out, I believe around the same time as mine. Maybe shortly after. But that's happening and it's kind of interesting because I was able to get the master tapes for the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" and was able to remix it the way I wanted to. That's also on a compilation with people like Jazzy Jeff, Questlove, Spinna and a couple of other people. I'm in really good company. The super cool thing is they kicked the remix album off with my remix. Which was really dope.

There's also the "Scratch: All The Way Live" DVD that's coming out. Which is basically, if you saw the "Scratch" documentary - it's that documentary with all of us talking about what it is we do and this next DVD is sort of the application. It's live concert footage of the "Scratch" tour which is me, Jazzy Jay, X-Ecutioners and Mixmaster Mike. It's kind of a cool little thing which explains what we were trying to talk about in the first movie. That actually comes out the same day as my album comes out.

MVRemix: Do you have any last words?

Z-Trip: I guess I owe a shitload of thanks to everybody. There's no way I could do what I do or be where I am without people helping me to get where I'm at. That sort of goes to anybody at all. I know that sounds cheesy, but if there's a way to sort of do it without saying "And a big thanks to all you guys!" It's real deep and heartfelt. The fact that I've been able to sustain a career for this long is mainly due to the people who're into the same sort of music and the same style of what I do. If it wasn't for those people, I wouldn't be where I'm at. So, this album really isn't all about me. It's all about the people who've helped me along the way. People on the record, people who've come to the shows. It's like finally, a Hip Hop DJ is making some more noise. Not to say that DJ's before me haven't, but finally this DJ is making some more noise. That's probably more proper.

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