The almighty force that is UZ is about to embark on a new chapter. With the first part of his tour starting this month, a rebranding of his famous mask and his LP The Rebirth soon to be released, we spoke to this trap stalwart about how his career is developing.
You can take a glimpse at his new mask within this exclusive interview, and head over to UZ’s website to check out his upcoming tour dates – he kicks off on April 20th in Salt Lake City.
This year is all about a new chapter for you – how does it feel to be at this stage of your career?
It feels great! We’ve been working really hard on the whole concept and I’m ready to take over. I think trap went full circle and it’s coming back to its original form and so does my music on The Rebirth. After the last tour, I wasn’t really excited in what was going on and I felt like I needed changes. I started working with different people, I moved out, built myself a studio and locked myself up until I got the new album ready. I needed to refocus on what I wanted to do with my music and also what I wanted to deliver to my fans. I also switched from Cubase to Ableton and felt like it gave me more options in terms of experimenting with sounds. My last album Layers was a great piece of music and working with other producers was a great experience but I wanted The Rebirth to be more personal. There is only one collab with Binks who also used to be part of Pyramid Juke.
We’re also working hard on the label Quality Goods Records and it’s growing really fast, I’m really happy to work with a great team of passionate people. We threw our first show in collaboration with Space Yacht and it was a great success as the venue reached full capacity early. There was definitely a vibe going on and I’m glad to see that people are ready to hear something different and fresh.
Your iconic mask is getting an update! What inspired you to make this change?
If I change something, I like to change everything. I had the same mask for 6 years now and I felt like an upgrade was overdue. The very first mask design was made by Ralis Khan who also designed the Slipknot masks. I kept it for 3 years but since we couldn’t really wash it, it started smelling weird and became uncomfortable to perform with. We’ve made 2 similar back up masks that I’ve been using since then. I felt like it was time for a change, so the upgrade came up naturally.Oh Dag Yo Photography © 2018
What has the design been inspired by? Who did you bring in to work on it?
It’s mainly inspired by the old mask, we wanted to keep all the original elements like the filigree, the gold and black paint, the bandana and the badass look. We wanted to show what was under the hat and hoodie, I know some people are going to get mad but we felt like it was time to drop the “F*CK” hat. We’ve been designing the new mask in partnership with Jessee Clarkson, who has worked on movies like Watchmen and Iron Man. After exchanging ideas and different mockups, we quickly found the perfect balance and now we got the final design ready – and it’s looking awesome.
As well as the new mask, what will fans get to see from you in your live shows this year? How are you pushing boundaries in terms of visuals and effects?
I really wanted to make the DJ experience more immersive for the public so I decided to play the visuals myself. Serato had contacted me when they found out I was a turntablist and offered me to try their software. I really liked the software/mixer combo and I figured out I could actually play and scratch videos using time-coded vinyl which is really awesome.
We worked with the talented Chadwick Mackela & Connor Moy who have done visual designs for big artists like G-eazy, Party Next Door and Majid Jordan, just to name a few. I gave them a list of 70 songs to work with and they designed crazy visuals for each individuals songs. The show is broken down into 3 different parts: past, present and future and the visuals are following that timeline using different colors, atmosphere and textures. So for this new tour you will listen to the show and also see the music when I’m scratching the videos, which is a brand new, unique experience for the audience. You can expect a lot more scratching than in the past shows.
You kick off Part 1 of ‘The Rebirth Tour’ on April 20th, what are your feelings on finally getting out there and playing out your new material?
I can’t wait to play my new album on this tour, it’s the best show I’ve come up with so far. The new set is basically 50% of my own music, 25% music of my label Quality Goods Records and 25% of released/unreleased music of artists I really like. I’ll be joined by Macntaj who will be performing tracks and hosting the shows with me. I really wanted to make this show the best I could, and I’m really looking forward to showing the public what we’ve been working on these past months.
Which shows coming up are going to be particularly special for you and why?
All of them are important but the LA show will have a few special few guests that have participated to The Rebirth album as well as selected Quality Goods artists. Los Angeles has showed me nothing but love since the beginning and I love playing here, so it’s natural I make the show special! But don’t worry, every show is going to be awesome and I’ll make sure to give the best performance everywhere we go!
Could you sum up “The Rebirth” of UZ in three words?
Real Trap Shit.
You can pre-save the LP right here, ready for release on May 11th.