Few DJs have had as big an impact on music and culture as Zach Sciacca, nor do they work as hard. Whether in the studio, behind the decks, or behind the scenes, he is always pushing the boundaries and honing his craft. Better known as DJ Z-Trip, Zach is a genre-bending Los Angeles musician, the recipient of the 2009 America's Best DJ Award, and a pioneer of the mashup movement.
As a producer, he has worked with incredible artists across genres, including the likes of LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Kasabian, and Dan the Automator. His love for all styles of music and how they can work together is groundbreaking and inspiring, and his innate funkiness and technical ability have led him to compose scores for video games like EA Skate, create mashups for Activision’s DJ Hero, and score music for films such as Infamy, La Bare, and Bob Marley: Legend Remixed.
In today's conversation, Zach shares some major pearls of wisdom about the importance of pushing the boundaries whenever you have the chance and investing your energy in constant evolution, not what sells or attracts the most followers. We also touch on how the pandemic helped him reconnect with his ‘why’ and why he believes that true success is about the aggregate, not the benchmarks. Zach has a work ethic to be admired, as well as a deep love for music, an approachable demeanor, and a relentlessly positive attitude, and listeners will benefit greatly from hearing his story today. We hope you’ll join us!
Z-Trip — Episode Key Points:
- How the contrasting worlds of New York and Arizona influenced Zach’s taste in music.
- The story of how his collection of 12-inch singles led Zach to become a DJ.
- Some favorite examples of tracks that blend genres, like Afrika Bambaataa’s ‘Planet Rock’.
- The boundary-pushing sampling and discovery that drew Zach to hip hop.
- Insight into Zach's process of producing his own music, which started with pause tapes.
- The ‘Rockstar’ track on Return of the DJ that caught the attention of Zach's peers.
- Why he believes that the mashup requires a certain level of open-mindedness.
- The value of working with those on the same trajectory as you, rather than more established artists, and building the right team.
- Key lessons from Zach’s career: be risky, push boundaries, and don’t always play it safe!
- The work ethic and commitment to improvement that Zach demonstrates every day.
- What the pandemic taught him about reconnecting with his ‘why’.
- How live streaming and virtual raves influenced his practice and his mindset.
- Zach shares his belief in staying true to himself and allowing the universe to provide.
- Why he believes that success is about the aggregate, not about hitting benchmarks.
- His advice for DJs: play every gig like it’s your first and your last!
- He cautions musicians against getting caught up in the numbers, likes, and followers.
“It wasn’t like I set out to become a DJ. It was very much about me having this music and wanting to share it. Once I realized that I could put it together and I could expose people to the things that I liked, the DJ thing came into play.” — @ztrip [0:09:28]
“People get really caught up in what sells or what’s hot and I feel like that’s great. You can chase the money but, creatively, make something that’s going to stand the test of time.” — @ztrip [0:16:49]
“Things that we can do now in 30 seconds would take us weeks, months. But, it was all about trying to push the boundaries and trying to figure out how to evolve and sound different.” — @ztrip [0:24:13]
“One thing I learned through the arc of my whole career is take chances. Be risky, try to push boundaries. Don’t always play it safe. There’s a time to play it safe, there’s a time to lock in.” — @ztrip [0:35:20]
“Every gig, go into it like it’s your first [and last], put your heart and fucking soul into it, because you never know who’s watching.” — @ztrip [0:58:25]