Zach Sciacca doesn’t like to define himself by media produced terms like ‘mash-up’. “In one sense I totally am accepting of it,” Sciacca, better known as DJ Z-Trip, says of the ‘mash-up’ label that’s often applied to his style. “People are going to call me what they’re going to call me, and if that’s how they know me and describe me then that’s fine. But at the same time as I evolve as an artist people are going to want to put me in my own category, my own sound. To me ‘mash-up’ is a very disposable name, it’s a name that came on the scene recently, and I don’t necessarily like to look at myself as being something that is that disposable.”
“But I don’t call it mash up, I’ve always seen it as blending or mixing, and just as something that DJs do,” he explains to me. “It’s what DJs have been doing for years, and it’s only just now seeing its own light and people are starting to identify it. But really at the end of the day if people identify with me, period, and they identify with my music, however they want to label me I don’t really care, as long as they’re getting to hear stuff and keeping an open mind,” he smirks.
With the release of his debut album, Shifting Gears, Sciacca was hoping to smash the ‘mash-up’ term, and have people call him “‘that really good DJ, guy that you need to check out, really top priority’ rather than ‘that mash-up guy’”, and it’s certainly moved him towards that goal. The album is a collection of straight up old-school party hiphop, with a little bit of rock thrown in for good measure. It features many big named hiphop MCs, alongside lesser known but equally talented performers. “A lot of these MCs I am a fan of and dug what they’ve done,” he says. “The goal was to put really well known people with those not so well known, and old and new. Put Grand Master Cas and Whipper Whip and Chuck D on there with people like Busdriver and Luke Sick, MCs people might not know, to make it as wide open as possible.”
But considering the album is so non-commercial, being devoid of modern day hiphop clichés like sped up vocals and dirty beats, I had to ask Sciacca why he put it out on a major label like Hollywood Records, rather than a more appropriate indie label. “I wanted to go with someone who would put my stuff out a little bit further and whom I thought would have a little bit more steam behind them”, he says. “But it’s funny, in hindsight I’m wondering if that was the right choice. On the one hand they definitely did the job of getting it out there, but on the other hand I still find myself doing a lot of other stuff an independent would do, like pressing up my own promos, and paying for my own tour support, that type of thing. The dream of ‘Yay, I’m gonna get signed, and then I’m never gonna have to worry about it again’ is more of a pipe dream. I learnt that through this whole experience with Hollywood. It wasn’t a bad experience, but it was definitely a learning experience,” he adds philosophically.
When it comes to live performances, you simply have to witness Z-Trip in the mix to believe it. Never have I been so enraptured by a DJ, never before has a DJ held my attention from start to finish like he did. One minute we were dancing to the Who, the next Run DMC, the next moment Credence Clear Water was juggled with Eric B & Rakim’s Paid in Full and then we’d find ourselves grooving to some drum & bass. “My thing is I’ve always tried to find the common thread with music. And good music is good music, period. No matter what genre and where it comes from, if it’s good and it rocks you and is good quality, I can throw it in the mix. It’s really been my deal – if it’s dope, and I flip it a certain way and keep it dope, people technically should be open minded and appreciative of that and should get it,” Sciacca proclaims.
We can expect to see Z-Trip in top form when he plays Adelaide, as it’s his first gig in the country, and in addition we get to see MC Supernatural, one of the world’s greatest freestyle MCs. “I’m looking forward to it,” he enthuses. “I don’t get to perform with Supernatural often. To fit Supernatural in the mix obviously we’ll perform some songs off my record, and then do some freestyle stuff, and then do some stuff off his new record. It’s nice to actually have a bona fide MC that I know can handle it. If anyone has seen him, they know what to expect, if not… whoa!” he whistles, “He’s definitely one of the best freestyle MCs out there. To have him in with my mixing is going to be something interesting and really fun.”