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PAUSE Meets: DUCKWRTH

By November 15, 2019Featured, Music Interviews
PAUSE MEETS:

DUCKWRTH

Talks afrobilly style, playing shows in London and why letting go is important.

Styling: Rhys Marcus Jay// @rhysmarcusjay
Photographer: Jack Brigland // @jack_bridgland
2nd stylist: Chanel Baker //@lalaanoire_
Videographer: Noah Sapon // @nwuh
Make-up artist: Lucy Thomas // @lucythomasmua
Set Stylist: Jade Adeyemi// @adeyumyum
Featuring: Duckwrth // @duckwrth
Interview: Lynn Moyo // @meliimoet

Special thanks to Hard Rock Hotel London for hosting us.

“Being a whole lot of yourself tends to work out because there’s only one you in the whole entire damn world.”

A creative in every sense of the word, Duckwrth is the South Central LA rapper, singer, and visual artist taking the world by storm. An art school drop out, Duckwrth inclination to being his ultimate self has propelled him from Los Angeles to playing shows in Barcelona in front of five thousand people. With an eccentric style that’s purely his own, PAUSE caught up with the multitalented rapper to talk all things music, fashion and more. Read what went down below:

Choker: Alessandra @ Browns Fashion, Jumper: J Lindeberg

Welcome to London. I know this isn’t your first time in the city, but how have you found it so far?

It’s pretty awesome. Especially when I get to round around and shit.

So, what do you normally get up to when you’re here?

Well I’ve just been doing press stuff, and music. Eating food, a lot of food actually. I’ve had Carribean food for like three days in a row. But mostly music, I just did a show yesterday, actually the day before yesterday.

And how was that?

That was fire. We sold it out.

Did you feel the London energy?

It’s actually my favourite, hands down.

Necklace: Chained&Able, Coat: Ryan Hawaii, Outfit: MMRMS Studio, Trainers: Converse

What’s the best you’ve played so far do you think?

In London? The one I just did two days ago at Jazz Cafe.

Amazing, glad London showed out. You’re from California, being that we’re currently in London. How would you describe Duckwrth to a Londoner who may not be up on your music?

[laughs] It’s really hard to describe yourself, In a sense. I guess I’d say, I’m a human, so there’s that. I guess I’m like colourful, I suppose. I’m a creative, so I create shit. But I never really like describing myself.

I know, no one does. It can be one of the hardest things to do sometimes. But, a lot of people have likened your sound to that of Pharrell’s and The Neptunes. What’s it like to be compared so such a pioneer and icon in music? Does it add pressure at all?

I mean, I’m happy to carry the torch. I mean a lot of that sound definitely made me want to make music, like Pharrell and Outcast and stuff like that so to carry on that torch is a blessing.

Funny you mention Outkast, because in the past you’ve listed Outcast, as well as Bad Brains, N.E.R.D obviously, Kanye West and Knocked Out as influences. What is it about this certain group of people that really resonated with you?

I guess it’s because they were like, left-of-centre compared to everything else that was popping off in that moment. It was like that type of music attracted me more I supposed, it narrated my teenhood if you will. So it just made sense to me.

And you say, it’s because they’re not so centred, and not so safe. Listening to your music and looking at your visuals, you’re uber creative. Where does that confidence come from? To be an outlier and do your own thing in an industry that’s sometimes trendy and safe?

I mean, it just makes sense to me to do those things. It’s like the most comfortable thing. I was particularly trying to do music at first you know, it just kind of happened so I was like well, if I’m going to do music let me at least do it my own way. As long as I can eat food, get some clean ass AirBnB’s and perform in front of thousands of people, I’ll be cool. But yeah, it’s in everything, whether I was going to do music, or I was going to do graphic design, It would have been the same thing. It just makes more sense to me to be an outlier.

Recently in music, there’s been a really fast turn around, we see people shoot up to fame but then fall off and disappear just as fast. What have you done differently that has kept you relevant?

Definitely being yourself. Being a whole lot of yourself tends to work out because there’s only one you in the whole entire damn world. So if you just find who you really are, and you just shine a light to it I suppose everything will work out that way.

Wise words. Being that we’re currently in London, and you just played a show here. If you had to pick a few London artists to work with, who would you choose?

Well I’ve already collaborated with them I suppose, but Connie Constance is like one of my favourite female vocalists out here. Her mix of just like, you know singing, but she’s got this deep baritone and it’s really fucking tight, and she’s like super punk but like in a chill way you know. And Disclosure for sure, they’re fire. I haven’t got to work with King Krule yet so that would be cool, and for some reason, I like Two Steppin and like Abbey Road, and if like Paul’s there and he wants to get on some ballad shit, I’m with it.

Moving onto fashion and style. One swipe through your Instagram page and it’s easy to see that you’re very style-conscious. Is style something you’ve always been conscious of?

I was raised around a lot of women, so they’d always kick my ass if I didn’t leave the house looking on point, you know, If I came out ashy they’d be like you gotta go back in, you know. And my sister, she’s all about fashion, so she’s always putting me onto to like different things. We used to watch runway, like for fashion week, and I didn’t know it was fashion week and i’d always be wondering like ‘why’s it every fall and winter they’ve got new clothes for like next year?’ Never made sense to me but I guess it got into my sub-conscious and now I just exist in that way.

And I guess that’s what’s helped you build your own unique aesthetic, and it’s like a lot of elements that make that up. But, how would you describe your own personal style?

I was actually to my friend about this the other day, I guess it’s this mix of like 60s, 70s and 80s but then also like a step in the future because I never want to just sit there and imitate what was in the past. But then, there is certain silhouettes in the past, like the high-waisted, short torso-long legs, that was like popping off in the 50s and 60s. I like boot cuts, I like flares you know, like showing the sock a little bit. A slight flood not like a full hurricane. So yeah, it kind of comes from like rockabilly, we put like a black spin to it so we call it Afrobilly, so that’ll be my style. Afrobilly.

Knitwear: Sulvam @ Browns Fashion, Trousers: GMBH @ Browns Fashion, Boots: Calvin Klein

You should coin that phrase before someone takes it. I read somewhere that you used to customise your shoes in school. You used to draw on them with Sharpies.

[laughs] Yeah. I did.

Where did that come from?

I don’t know, it just made sense to customise shoes. I mean I still do it, I still draw on all my shoes, like I didn’t have anything to wear to this show in Toronto, so I just to this basic mall, to this like Forever 21 kind of store, bought a white coloured crewneck, cut the arm things off, cut the bottom off and like frayed it and let them roll a little bit. Went to a stationary store and got like a bunch of Sharpies and just started drawing on it, and it’s like actually a fire crewneck but it just always made sense to me because I never totally find what I want so it’s better to just kind of create.

Does that mean we’ll eventually see a fashion line from you?

Eventually. Eventually, but it won’t be like mass-produced type shit, like they’ll be a good amount but still limited. Not to try and be on some exclusive shit but it’s more so that I’d rather you catch it in the moment and then it’s never produced again. If you get it, you get and if you don’t, you don’t.

Necklace, Feather Pendants and ASOS, Knitwear: Gucci @ Mr Porter, Trousers: Pronounce

What about an accessories line? Because it’s quite clear that you like your rings, earrings and necklaces.

Well I used to make rings back in the day. This one I’m wearing. So I think I’m going to make some more. So yeah, I think so. When I get back into it or when I get the people, I’m talking to this company now and we’re just trying to figure out that, plus some other pieces. I’ll probably get on some rapper and do something with diamonds, yeah and canary yellows and some pinks and shit like that [laughs]. Why not, you know.

That’ll be a hit. But on the music tip, your latest release ‘CRUSH,’ judging by the name of it, is there a certain someone that inspired that song?

Er yes, but I’m not going to say who it is. But it was this one woman who I was kicking it with heavy, like last year and I was had like a heavy crush on her.

You said woman, is she older? 

Actually no, she’s younger than me but she’s on her grown woman shit you know. But I was staying with her and I was making the song in the studio, I actually made it out here in Brixton with producers Karma Kid and Jamie. So yeah I was making the song and I was like, ‘what’s going to make this particular woman dance when I get home and play it?’ So I was thinking about it and writing it, and [sings] ‘I can watch you dance all night,’ because I knew I wasn’t going to be home until like three o’clock in the morning but I knew it had to something that would make her dance. Then I sent her it and sure enough, everything I wrote in the song happened when I got home, and it was really trippy. But yeah I was definitely crushing on her.

Oh wow, that’s trippy. A question for the fans. What made you cut your hair?

Ten plus years of having the same hair, I suppose. I just wanted to find something different. And like letting go, I don’t really like to have too many attachments. I was always taught don’t be attached too much to physical things, because when it’s gone then you’re wrecked and i’d rather not be too wrecked, especially about this. And it’s also like a five, ten-year cycle for me, give up something and gain something. You have to make room, kind of like harvesting crops, you grow it and everything then it dies and you get that shit out the way and you make room for something new. I’m going into this next chapter of my career and my creativity and I need to make room so something had to be a sacrifice.

And that sacrifice was your hair?

Yeah because that was one of the biggest things. Because that was my brand, my locs and it just was like, there, that’s Duckwrth with the locs. So I was like, what happens if I cut them off. It’s like no more camouflage, I’m just going to have to be out there.

Have you seen a change?

Yeah definitely. Not on any flex shit but Freddie Mercury for a while, he was flamboyant with the long hair, painted nails, bedazzlement and everything like that, and then he cut his hair off and grew his moustache out and then everything went to stadium status and that’s the place I’m trying to get to. Maybe it’s aerodynamics or some shit, I’m not sure [laughs].

Maybe it is. But with all that said, what’s next?

[Laughs] What’s not next man, really. I mean I’m working on a project right now, it’s supposed to drop in Spring. It’s supposed to be a project about movement, like one of the slogans is ‘we grow no wallflowers here,’ and it just pretty much says get your ass up and keep going. And then like you said, maybe a small garment collection, and playing bigger crowds man, I’m trying to get to that ten thousand, actually, I’m about to be doing a ten thousand which I’m kind of nervous about.

Do you always get nervous before a show?

No, I don’t really get too nervous, but the bigger the crowd and it’s oh shit. Like I recently did Barcelona and I thought it was going to be five hundred, and I’m like okay cool I’ll just go out and do my thing but it was actually four thousand people and I did not shit myself [laughs] but the shit was wild, and I’m like cool because now that’s one step closer and I needed that because coming from five hundred to ten thousand in like a month would have fried my brain, so I need that little segway. So next month is going to be crazy.

Follow Duckwrth on Instagram