Live in Avon: DJ Z-Trip answers 7
Avon, CO Colorado
AVON, Colorado “-Zach Sciacca, AKA DJ Z-Trip, who performs in Avon, Colorado Saturday, has been called the father of the mash-up movement, fusing together often ironic layers of songs into tracks that have lit up dance floors worldwide. Z-Trip has played to crowds of more than 500,000, but tonight he brings his unique sound to a smaller venue ” Agave in Avon.
Vail Daily: How did you get started DJing?
Zach Sciacca: I was always a guy who loved music so I always had a lot of music around. It was always about sharing that music with other people. It started out as a kind of a hobby. I was always serious about it, but I never thought I could turn it into something I could make a career out of ” never thought it would turn into this. For me, I’d be doing it anyways. I guess that’s why I’ve been able to have a career out of it. I’d be DJing whether it was for 20 people at a bar or half a million people.
VD: Many consider you to be the founder of the mash-up genre. What do you think about that?
ZS: I’m fortunate in many ways. So many people try so hard, for me I was just doing what I wanted and it eventually turned into this. Also it’s just the time that I got involved. At the time I was doing this kind of music not many people were. It helps I’ve been doing it since before I could drive a car.
I didn’t create a new genre so to speak, even though some people will say that I did. They recognize me as the guy who started it, which is really flattering. Really, I just expanded on something that was already there. And now I’m like the gateway drug.
VD: What’s so unique about the kind of music you play?
ZS: My concepts and style is all based on the first hip-hop DJs. They were just playing everything: just funky good music. They didn’t really have labels; they just thought that if the music was good, people will dance. And that concept kind of got lost in the ’80s and ’90s. And I just said, f*** it, play it all. It was about mixing that music up and making it all fuse together.
I said, well, I like Led Zeppelin and I like Run DMC and I like Deep Purple, and I’m going to make them all come together. When everyone just wanted to hear the latest hip-hop song, I said f** it, I’ll play what I want. I don’t care if I make it, if I have to clear a few dance floors.
VD: Who influenced you as your DJ career evolved?
ZS: Marley Marl. He was the DJ on the local radio in New York and I listened to him mix these records up and I could really here what he was doing. I could hear his thumbprint on every track. I had heard these songs a million times but now I’m hearing something different. Then I started listening to other guys like Grandmaster Flash and Jazzy Jay and checked out how they mixed.
VD: What makes a DJ successful behind the turntables?
ZS: Being in tune and connecting with the crowd. Play music that is educating to a degree, but not over-the-top obscure. You need to have the ability to spin all styles of music and do it in a way that actually engages people so they don’t feel excluded. It’s about having the ability to touch the guy in the corner who might not be into anything you’re playing. But the minute you play one song he can really identify with, you’ve got him for the rest of the night. He’s usually the metal guy. He stands there all night but the minute you play Metallica or Panterra he’s like ‘I love this sh**!’
VD: How did you get involved with the Obama campaign and doing the Obama mixtape?
ZS: We were all about getting Obama elected, so we decided to throw a few fundraisers in L.A., then before I knew it, we were invited to the DNC. It just kept snowballing and so I started making these mixes centered around Obama and his speeches. As the campaign snowballed, I kept developing the mix more and more. It ended up a mix I put together before everyone got out to vote and it got a huge response. I was supposed to DJ at the inauguration but I had to tour in Australia and couldn’t make it. Moveon.org asked for a victory party-like mix. I really had to think of celebratory tunes that still had a message. Like, let’s party because we got our guy in office, but he’s got a lot of work ahead of him. Tonight we can party but tomorrow we have to get to work. People have come up to me and said ‘Thanks so much, I’m really stoked about what you’re doing.’ That’s super flattering, knowing I had an effect. But I’d probably do it anyway because it’s all about getting the Republicans out of power and changing the guard.
VD: Besides going to see one of your many shows, how can people listen to some more Z-Trip?
ZS: Any one can go to my Web site (www.djztrip.com) and download all of my mixes for free. There’s so much f**king music up there. I feel like people are going to get the music for free anyways, you might as well give them something good quality. All I ask is that people leave a comment and say that they’re stoked or whatever.
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