Crate Digging With Z-Trip
Z-Trip is lost. We're standing in the middle of Rockaway Records in Silver Lake, in the rock section's "G-H" area, and the DJ -- born Zach Sciacca -- is in his own world. We were discussing the golden age of DJ culture when he got sidetracked, his fingers flipping madly through vinyl.
When something catches his attention -- in this case a Top of the Pops U.K. Import from 1966 -- his brow furrows as he runs a mental rolodex scan. "It's a match game. My file system always has to be on point. Let's say there's a great horn bit on this collection. I'll take it home and put it in my 'horn' section. The next time I need horns I'll say, 'Oh, there's that record with the really great horn bit that I bought a couple months ago.' But, this is where everything [begins]. Digging through crates in a record store and getting lost."
A child of divorce, Sciacca spent his childhood bouncing between New York and Arizona. "I'd go see my Dad in New York and absorb all this great music, and then go back to Arizona where nothing was going on," he recalls. Raised on a steady diet of East Coast rap -- Public Enemy, Run-DMC, and Eric B. and Rakim were touchstones -- Sciacca's unique approach to DJing began to take shape. "I brought a different potluck style to the scene," he says. "Everyone was bringing ham and cheese to the party and I was bringing Indian food. A lot of people thought it was way too weird at the time. But now, everybody's doing it."
Before Danger Mouse fused The Beatles and Jay-Z, there was Uneasy Listening, Sciacca's now-legendary 2001 mixtape that blended seemingly disparate classic rock cuts over hip-hop. There was Pharcyde crossed with The Eagles, layered over Midnight Oil, for example, and it introduced Z-Trip's ADD aesthetic to the world while kickstarting an entirely new musical genre, the mash-up.
"It's about versatility," says Sciacca. "I'll DJ a million parties, whether it's a Vegas, dubstep, reggae or underground thing. That helps separate me within the DJ community. But I also produce music, and working with other artists in the studio helps me to be well-versed in rock, funk and a lot of other genres. When I play live, I don't just play records. I put on a show. The more you explore and attempt within this career choice, that's when you become an artist. If you're just up there playing records, it doesn't mean you're not an artist, but your longevity is limited. If you're not trying to do as much as you can, while exploring and breaking down boundaries, then you're just a guy spinning records and making people dance.
"Not that there's anything wrong with that."