You can hear the frustration in Zach Sciacca’s (otherwise known as Z-Trip) voice as he talks about copyright laws. Known for the incredible Uneasy Listening Vol 1 mix CD, done in collaboration with DJ P, this master of the mash and blend has become a pin up boy for the fight against the incredibly archaic copyright laws which has seen him get caught up for nearly a year trying to get tracks for a mix CD cleared. This is not about getting samples cleared – this is about getting clearance for mixing two songs together. It’s like being told you can’t play two certain songs together on the radio.
“The whole concept of having to clear something is limiting”, Sciacca explains. “If you want to put out something legitimate, something that you can sell and people can buy, it’s hard. I’m an advocate of people doing it on their own, doing it independently and getting it out, because that’s the most important thing – getting it out there. It’s such a shame that it’s like that,” he pauses. “There’s no way to make an album like the Beastie Boys Paul’s Boutique for instance. That album, financially, could never be made. You couldn’t sample The Beatles – and they did – but people weren’t aware of it then. Now there’s sample clearance house business set up and you have to go that route.”
“Most of the stuff I’ve done until about now has been under the radar,” and this includes Uneasy Listening Vol 1, an amazing mix of 80s rock and electro. “People come to my shows, they tape it and put it on the internet, because people want it. That’s the funny thing, there’s such a demand for it that industry people should be more willing to allow things to be cleared. There’s money to be made if they want to make money from it.” The resistance comes from the record companies and their profiteering. In an article on DownhillBattle.org Sciacca states, “The industry is so old school in thinking, most can’t wrap their head around the concept of a work A and a work B coming together to form work C.” “I think artists are slowly getting into it,” he tells me. “At first they were a bit reluctant, but it’s starting to rise to the surface, become such a mainstream thing, that people are going to want to do that kind of thing. I did get to meet Barry de Vorzon, the guy who did the Warriors theme song,” which is on Uneasy Listening. “I met up with him, played it to him and he really dug it. At some point I would like to sit down and maybe collaborate with him.”
Sciacca has also collaborated with Del Tha Funky Homosapien in the past, and is collaborating with Lyrics Born on his debut album, due out next year. “Going through the route of trying to clear everything just takes forever, and I ran into a lot of stop signs from people who just didn’t get it, didn’t want me to use their stuff, so I had to a different route, and that was to produce an album rather than make one using other people’s music,” Sciacca says of the work he’s doing. “I don’t want to give too much up because I’m saving that for a surprise, but there’s some people I had to really search out to find, and some that were good friends. It’s a good thing though, it was a good process and I’m really happy with the way it’s turned out.”
But Sciacca is first and foremost a DJ. “I’m a DJ and playing to a crowd is my biggest pay off and also my biggest thrill. It’s what I enjoy the most and how I built my career and reputation,” he says proudly. “I don’t really worry too much about record sales or things of that nature yet, I guess I will when I put the record out, but my biggest concern is that more people come to the shows, and maybe buy a T-shirt or something, because that’s money I will see directly, versus going through the channels of me putting something out and the money gets spread out to all the people I’ve sampled, and then the record label, and at the end of the day I might get one or two cents”.
Sciacca will be hitting Australia for the first time next week, and thanks to Traffic we will get to see him perform in Adelaide alongside the Life Savas. Having downloaded a few of his DJ sets from djztrip.com, expect the unexpected from his performance. “It’s very dance floor based, I’ll be trying to rock the party. I like to be different from any other DJ you’ve heard, I pride myself on that. 98% of what I do is on vinyl, I do a few things off CD, but most of the blends and mashups I do are on vinyl,” he states, and having heard those blend I simply cannot wait to see him do it live.
Not only does he allow his sets to be downloaded for free, Sciacca is an active member of his forums, answering questions and giving his opinion on mixes and music in general. “The website isn’t really a big deal in so much as putting photos and such up”, he explains. “My main concern was to have a community where people could ask me stuff and I could interact with them. Sometimes it’s hard to speak to a fan or to someone who’s at a show when you’re packing up or just about ready to go on, so if I can answer things at my leisure, you know at 4 o’clock in the morning in my underwear, you know?” he laughs.