[INTERVIEW] DUCKWRTH TALKS SG8*, KYLA PRATT + BEING ON TOUR

DUCKWRTH has always remained a stand out artist. Paving his own lane, blending genres together and not following anyone else’s rules but his own, the man from LA has managed to remain unique. After taking a brief hiatus, DUCKWRTH is now back with a brand new project, ‘SG8*’. He has delivered a beautifully packaged body of work, with each track accompanied by its own cinematic visualiser. There’s no doubt that DUCKWRTH brought the funk, the grooves, and a timeless vibe that nobody else is doing right now. A little while back, VIPER linked up with DUCKWRTH right before he was about to tear up the stage at Bowery Ballroom for his headlining show. Read what he had to say in our interview…

Was your pandemic poppin’? 

[Laughs] Emotionally and mentally poppin’, yes. Everyone else had to do some self-evaluation and work on theirself stuff. It wasn’t like poppin’ poppin’, I know some folks who were going to some underground shit, so their pandemic was poppin’ poppin’; I was in the crib and stuff so moderate pop.

How do you feel that the pandemic affected you creatively?

Well, usually after doing a project, I have to take a break because my mind just won’t be able to write. I have tremendous writer’s block after doing a full project. So I did ‘SuperGood’ in one month, which is the fastest I’ve ever done an album. After that I think I had writer’s block until November so I try to be in sessions, or like management would book sessions and I’d come back and it would not be anything good. I think Covid – creative wise – it helped me lock in on me turning ‘SuperGood’ to a brand; garment design, other industries and stuff. I’ve been trying to get more into not just like regular merch, but cutting and sewing some pieces and everything. I really got to lock in on that and that was amazing.

So ‘SG8*’ stands for ‘SuperGood Eight’? 

Eight songs. It’s like the most basic thing, I’m like “bruh, if you don’t look at the track list.” ‘SuperGood’, eight songs. You’d be surprised, people have some crazy ideas but it’s tight though, I love seeing people translate it. But yeah, it’s the simplest thing. 

So you recently you dropped this project ‘SG8*’ and you accompanied it with a visualiser for every track. Were you working on the visuals at the same time as the project or did you shoot the videos after?

I did that project in maybe a month and a half. We knew ‘4K’ was going to be on the project it’s all about vacationing and being on an island. So we knew we had to go to an island but the budget for it wasn’t super crazy, so we were like, if we’re going to go to the island and spend all this money, we need to shoot as much as possible. So all right cool, how can we make this work? Shoot a bunch of different full-on scenarios, but some movies.

All your visuals have a similar vintage film style, do you like to have a hand in the creative process of your videos and do you ever work on the treatments?

For this last one, I wrote the story and then I worked with homie Barney Bones, who I write with and then Griz who directs him. So we had this little three-way roundtable for, ‘Kiss You Right Now’, the video before Barney Bones wrote that whole story, then we just fleshed it out and then he gave it to Griz. But yeah, I’m very much involved in it, and I really like the texture of film. It looks so much cooler than digital, whether that be video film or a film camera. You can’t beat that texture, you can’t beat the colour.

So we’re here on day two of your two day stop in New York City. How was day one?

There’s no words really, it was just fucking exceptional, it was insane. It was more than what I imagined, to tell you the truth; I haven’t gotten emotional from a show in a long time. Normally my emotions are a lot because I’m fucking pissed off because something went wrong but this one was was amazing. I was definitely teary eyed on the stage like, “Yo, I got to stop this shit.”

Do you plan on changing anything from night two, compared to the first night – setlist wise or stage design?

That’s a good question, I’ve never been asked that. I mean, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; it worked last night. Maybe we’ll pull an audible and do some wild shit, but other than that; nah.

On ‘Clueless’ you talk about working at a Vans store and trying to get this girls number. Is this a true story?

Yeah, definitely. 

Did you get the number?

So the girl was Kyla Pratt, who’s this big like celebrity from the 2000’s. she was in Love & Basketball, The Proud Family and One On One. She pulled up to Vans and she was trying to get me to help her. Internally I was like, “I’m not here to help you, I’m tryna see what’s up. You mu’fuckin Kyla Pratt!” I did not get the number but she thought I was Cuban, so that was interesting. She was like, “can you get the Cuban boy to come back and help me?” I had Jerry curls at that moment, I did something with my hair and it got real curly. 

I like what you’re doing with the hair now, the dye looks really good.

It’s doing a lot of things and it’s there and people like it so I like it.

You’re a pretty spiritual person; from our last talk and from your music, I feel like you’ve been pretty in tune with your emotions and spirituality during this pandemic. Do you feel like it’s changed or been affected by the pandemic and working on the album?

I feel like it has room to grow, I’m lacking ritual at the moment. Things be moving so quickly and I be so lazy sometimes, so tired. Mainly my laziness comes from being tired, I’m not naturally lazy; I’m just tired as fuck, right? But when everything slows down, especially in this fall season, I would like to tap back in and actually develop some type of routine for myself and keep that going. In this industry, it gets kind of shallow and sometimes a bit dark so you need some protection. 

What’s your favourite thing and what’s your least favourite thing about being on tour? 

My least favourite thing is the terrible food choices at times, you get what you can at certain hours. I will combat that with my favourite parts of tour, which is when we actually sit down at a restaurant and eat. So yeah, the bad part is the tremendous amount of burgers all the time, that can get ugly. And when it’s really, really late and you have to just find your way, there’s been many times I just had to go downstairs, eat some chips and knock out. But it’s also on me too, because there’s a certain time where you can get something, but like adrenaline’s pumping running around, you’re saying hello to all these people. You try to get a drink and by the time you look up, everything’s closed.

What’s on the DUCKWRTH rider?

Usually fruits and vegetables, juices, water. I think champagne is on there, Red Bull was added recently, gluten free cookies, honey. Yeah a lot of stuff, especially because you don’t always get something good. Sometimes we’ll get fruits and vegetables and it actually helps out a lot.

What was your favourite song to record or write on ‘SG8*’? 

Ok, I’ll do both. My favourite song to record – they were all so seamless and they all happened very quick – I think ‘Slow Motion’ was my favourite to record. It was very playful, I got to kinda troll, that whole song is just trolling and just doing some Pretty Ricky, 2000s freak music and shit; I was tapping into that and it was just really fun to record. My favourite song to write on there was ‘Mask Off’, hands down my favourite because I was intentionally trying to create a snapshot of what people felt like when Covid and mask regulations were loosening up and people were going outside, going to functions and being at parties. I’m sure folks were all in their head but on the outside, they were showing nothing, no emotions, no concern or worry. You had to talk to them on the side and be like, “so you don’t feel comfortable either right?” But you wouldn’t see that from an exterior point until you take the mask off. That song is very much a double entendre of feelings and falling for someone, you got the mask on to protect yourself; you take the mask off and you catch feelings.

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Interview by Calvin Schneider