It’s been four years since UZ burst onto the music scene with his lethal doses of heavy trap music and gold mask to hide his identity. Letting the music speak for itself, UZ has established himself as a driving force in the trap music scene and expanded his musical influence with the start of his own label Quality Goods Records.
Just in time for the holidays, UZ is gearing up to release his Magellan (The Remixes) EP out on December 9 via Quality Good Records. Featuring stellar remixes from TYNVN, Blvk Sheep, Tascione, HOUNDS, UNKWN, SAYMYNAME and Champagne Drip, this remix EP is guaranteed to heat up your holiday season.
We had the rare opportunity to catch up with UZ and discuss the evolution of the trap music scene, his recent collabs with Mayhem and Big Makk (R.I.P.), his new label Quality Goods Records and his advice to up and coming producers. Read the full interview and check out the teaser video for his Magellan (The Remixes) EP below.
Pre-order your copy here.
UZ – Magellan EP The Remixes (Teaser)
UZ mysteriously surfaced in 2012, spearheading the trap movement and redefining the terms ‘trap’ and ‘instrumental hip hop.’ How would you describe the evolution of trap since your start? Have you seen any signs of devolvement or expansion from the underground trap scene to mainstream radio?
Trap was just southern hip-hop back in 2012 and way before that. It was similar to what I was doing at the time – I only knew of few people like Morris, Lunice or Clicks n Whistles doing it. We were just making instrumental trap beats as I can remember and then it became a big thing, some of the OG’s have moved on and make different music now.
Nowadays, trap sometimes sounds more like dubstep than trap to me. But it’s all music really, there’s some bad stuff and there’s some good stuff. That being said, there’s still some really good stuff around New Zealand and Australia right now. Mainstream-wise, you can clearly hear trap everywhere on the radio, a lot of rap beats are trap or trap-influenced beats.
Very recently you and Atlanta’s own Mayhem, collaborated on a track of Amazonian proportions. The track was next level and it looked like you guys had a lot of fun working together. How did the collaboration come together and is there a chance of more in the future?
A year or two ago, I was at 12th Planet’s studio in Downtown L.A and randomly started writing an idea on Cubase, I had this vocal sample and decided to chop it up and play with it, then I made a beat and added the 808. Mayhem was there and he was feeling the track, he asked me for the stems and started to do his thing. He then played his part and we were like “Wow, we have something great here”, so we started putting it all together and were very happy with what was going on. I then took all the stems and did the sequencing and sent back to Mayhem, who was happy with it. He added the final touches and that was it! We slept on the track for some time because we were both busy with other projects, but it’s now finally out.
We also noticed that you were blessed with the opportunity to collaborate with the late and legendary producer/DJ Big Makk. Can you tell us what you remember most about Big Makk and the collaboration?
We were at Big Makk’s (R.I.P) place in Orlando after a show, having fun and drinking Henny. He was playing some beats and ideas and this beat came up at some point – I was like “Damn man, I like this beat! Could you send me the stems?” – and he did. The beat was really simple at the time and the BPM was a little bit different (can’t remember if it was slower or faster), but it was banging. I then did my thing, sequenced it, and added a part, sent it back and he was so stoked! It was really easy working with him – he was one of the nicest dudes I’ve ever met to be honest.
How have you managed to connect with and maintain such a massive and loyal fan base while maintaining your anonymity?
I guess the crowd was tired of all the DJs playing the same shit, DJs just wanting to be big and have their face and name all over the place. I just came out in 2012 and was like, “Fuck who I am or what I look like, just listen to the music and that’s it.”
Maybe the fans can identify themselves to me because they feel like they could be under the mask – anybody could be under that mask – the concept was more of a message at the time. One love to my fans, I’m working really hard right now to make you all happy in 2017!
We’ve seen you cut up the decks a number of times, with only your hands exposed. Without revealing anything about your identity, can you tell us a little about your background on the turntables?
You know I don’t like to talk about the past but I’m a DJ before being a producer, I’ve been DJing for a long time now and all I’ve been using is turntables. Of course I know how to scratch and I like to incorporate some into my sets. Some will say it’s not enough, some will say it’s too much, but you can’t please everybody, right? Anyways, I’ll never stop using turntables at my shows.
Recently, you launched your own imprint, Quality Goods Records, making your influence on the music scene even more expansive. Characterize your vision for your career, then as an up and coming producer vs. now as an influential artist and record label head?
I’ve released a lot of instrumentals as the “Trap Shit” Series, remixed a bunch of artists and proved to everybody that I could actually write some cool music. Right now I feel like I want to concentrate and work more with singer and rappers, to make my production reach a new level. You’ll hear some of it in a few months.
I know for the last 4 years I’ve influenced a lot of producers to follow my path and make some trap shit music, and I’m really proud of it. I often hear “I started producing because I heard your music” – that’s what motivated me to make a label because I wanted those people to be heard, their music is different.
I’m not just starting another label, I’m trying to create a special place with a special sound, and I’m really happy with what’s coming next.
Recently we started a new series called “The Inbox” where we feature some of our favorite submissions from up and coming producers. As the head of a growing record label, can you name some unexpected places that you’ve discovered new talent? What advice would you give to up and coming producers that are looking to have their music heard? What methods do you use to promote new talent that you’ve discovered?
SoundCloud used to be a good place to discover new talent, but now it’s just overloaded with reposts, bots, and it really looks like a mess. Quality Goods right now is 2 things: Firstly compilations; those are really dedicated to artists that are often never heard of. They would send me demos on my different emails and I would for example pick 1 out 50, because I’m really picky and I’m looking for a really special sound. Secondly the EPs: I find most of the artists myself or they are sent to me by other artists on the label – like a family thing. We ask them for 4 tracks and we design the artwork together with our design team. From there, tracks are sent to mastering etc. You’d think it’s easy, but it’s a load of work to run a label!
To give advice to up and coming producers that want to be heard, I’d say get the right email contact where you’re supposed to send your demo – write a simple email with a SoundCloud link or an mp3 attached (no Beyoncé remixes if possible). You wouldn’t believe the stuff I receive! Also if you don’t receive feedback, don’t be mad, and keep sending stuff. I’ve released music by producers that I was following for a loooong time, I knew one day they’d be ready.
What can you tell us about your upcoming Magellan EP (The Remixes) that is dropping on December 9? What other goodies can we expect from you in 2017?
A few weeks ago I came across an unofficial remix of “Cavern” by UNKWN and really liked it, so I contacted him and told him to take it down. I asked a few producers and decided to release a remix EP out of nowhere. It’ll have some really cool remixes by artists like SAYMYNAME, Tascione, other QGR artists and more. I can’t say anything yet, but a lot of good things will be coming from the label and me in 2017.
UZ – Magellan EP | Download
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Special thanks to Anonymous Superhero for making this interview happen. Follow her on Twitter.