DuckWrth is a music talent originating from South Central, Los Angeles. His funky musical sound and style caught my eye a couple of years ago and has continued to keep me interested in his music. His latest project titled NOWHERE in collaboration with the Kick Drums was another project that showcased his talent and will to continue to break down the musical barriers that often surround rappers. DuckWrth recently released the news that he will be going on tour opening up for Anderson Paak this upcoming summer, along with that news he has new music and visuals in the works. I was able to catch up with him one afternoon in Los Angeles, we drove around in Westchester, then through Inglewood and he showed me his old stomping grounds stretching all the way to Downtown Los Angeles. Read the full interview below.
Let's talk about your project NOWHERE, explain musically how it all came about? What were the initial influences for this body of work?
Pretty much I moved to New York and met this dude named Alex Fitz, he was in this band called the Kick Drums and he was just this ill ass producer — we sat down and made one song and it was really funky so we just kept making them. I was coming out of a situation that kind of just had me everywhere and literally nowhere I just felt hella confused and I had just came to New York and shit just started moving so that was the whole concept of NOWHERE. That’s pretty much it, I came up with the album, fourteen songs.
I know you're also into producing visual and graphic designs for your own projects. What is your process when creating album art? How do the ideas for these works transpire?
It was dope because Alex gave me the liberty to just go ham and the sound scape that we were creating was super colorful, it was dark but it was colorful as hell so I was like ok cool I’m just going to let it flow and whatever comes out, comes out. But I was also with my homegirl Miloh Smith, she’s on Indica and she’s a stickler for good design and simple designs so she kind of took my sporadic design methods and was like dude you should have a theme it should be consistent throughout the whole project so she kind of help me control my inner child and just went wild. I made a cover for every single, made a cover for the actual album and I got to direct and edit two of the videos Naruto and Indica La Roux.
Let's transition into your song Well Spoken, what was the inspiration for the visual? Can you give a bit of a deeper explanation for the meaning of the song? What influenced you to write this?
Well Spoken was pretty much a concept about how sometimes people of color are expected by people of a "higher status" to be animal, speak animal. They expect me to come through and present myself a certain way but when my linguistics are on point they are kind of surprised like, "aren't you well spoken?" and it's kind of like fuck you. That's pretty much what the song is, it also is highlighting the coonery that happens within hip-hop as well. The video pretty much is me playing this belligerent character, this very animalistic character, eating with my hands and spitting everywhere, just really scum. I'm portraying the character that I'm supposed to be from the perspective of the people who say, aren't you well spoken, it's like playing a duality role, it's trippy.
Looking at your designs from the NOWHERE project and your direction for single visuals would you potentially have an interest in directing videos or creative work for other artists?
Yeah most definitely because it's kind of easier to see a vision for someone else than yourself. I'm not sure what it is, it's more pressure but with other people it's like, I totally see it, try this out, try these color waves, try these camera angles but yeah I definitely would want to direct for other people eventually.
You've expressed your appreciation for live performances, what element do you think live music brings to your specific sound and for music in general? Does it generate a different musical experience overall?
You know, a lot of the people I looked up to when I was younger they all did live band shit, Sly and the Family Stone, Jimi Hendrix, Earth Wind & Fire. Earth Wind & Fire brought like a 20-man band out and it was amazing. Also I grew up in church listening to gospel and they're all about live shit, my parents were in a gospel band and stuff so it's just I understand live more than I understand the electronic sound. The punk side of me just loves that shit it brings out a wilder side.
You've been open about your mix of influences, punk culture and music being one of them. How did you get into punk music? Why were you drawn to the culture and who were a few acts or artists you cite as most influential to you?
I got into punk music because I had a crush on this girl in high school. She was punk and she put me onto a couple of different bands including the Casualties, Misfits and Dead Kennedys. After that, I worked at a Vans store in Redondo Beach, Los Angeles. A lot of the homies there were punk as well. I gravitated to the culture because I was young, black, and angry. I didn't fit into my neighborhood, my pants were too tight, and my music was too fast. One thing I noticed in punk music was a lack of black artists so before I Ieft for college I discovered Bad Brains, an all black Rasta punk band. They changed my life they made it cool to be a black guy in punk, everything else was history.
I know it's a bit early in the year but who have you been listening to in 2016? Do you have a favorite project from an artist that's come out this year?
Unknown Mortal Orchestra they're dope and they use a lot of analog. Gary Clark Jr. that motherfucker can play some damn guitar, he shreds. Yeah that's pretty much it, oh Kendrick's Untitled Unmastered, every time he drops something it's amazing. I know there's more but I think that's it for now, I'm just kind of waiting to see who's going to drop maybe Frank will drop something, I don't know.
I hate to be this person with the comparisons but I've frequently heard your name brought up in conversation with Andre 3000. I think it's your creative approach to sounds and style, it's different. How do you feel about that comparison?
That's my father, he kind of birthed my style. As that black youth in South Central he made it okay to be other and everything. He just made me comfortable so in that sense I owe my musical ability to him. That's fine, he's not going to come out with anymore albums anyway so fuck it, might as well continue the lineage. I'm actually working with his engineer right now Neal Pogue, he's a visionary he's like my Quincy Jones in that sense.
Let’s talk about Feels 5 you’re on the lineup for the upcoming Wine & Bowties show that also features Toro Y Moi & LIL B along with numerous other talented performers. What can people planning to attend the show expect from your set?
Ruckus and love sex pretty much. I mean Prince died so we kind of have to continue that lineage with also mixing some ruckus. I fuck with Bad Brains heavy that’s what I came up on so it’s always about bringing both of those worlds together, scum and androgyny without being the New York Dolls or something like that. (Laughs) We’re bringing a live band with lead guitar, base drum everything like that. LIL B is on there that’s going to be crazy but then they have Georgia Anne Ludrow who’s like a crazy soul singer and then they have Toro Y Moi with a DJ set, Moses Sumney, Wav Bros are going to be fucking shit up, the whole lineup is one big ass flex. It’s going to be a fun night.
Lastly speaking of your upcoming performance, what else do you have coming up that you can tell us about? Any projects? Art work? Collaborations? A hint of anything?
They’re all in the works, I have a project I’m working on right called I’m uugly it was an album but we’re going to split it into two EP’s. I was working on another album but the album had to do with moving things forwards as far as bringing music into the future but we’re not there yet and I’m not there yet because I’m still riding a bus down South Central and shit so my story right now is a kid who’s trying to get out of South Central right now so that’s what I’m uugly is about. It kind of speaks on my reality and shit with crazy, different, ugly subject matters. Ugly is also when you’re listening to a really dope song and the song is so good your face frowns up all ugly and shit, it’s like damn this is funky, that’s what I’m uugly is too. I'm working with a couple different amazing producers, Channel Tres, amazing up and coming producer. Alexander Spit the homie from The Hundreds, Ru AREYOU, Like from Pac Div he makes some funky shit so those are the four main producers. As for collaborations they’re coming can’t really speak on those yet.