Nice Ride: Shifting Gears with Z-Trip

Music Interviews

There’s a lot of “mash-up” DJs out there nowadays, but not one of them can be compared to the Z-Trip recipe.

[Z-Trip]In the past year, Z has been very goal-oriented. He has a mix on the new Motown Remixed album, a cameo on the new Scratch: All The Way Live DVD, and, now signed with Hollywood Records, he’s ready to spread his musical wings even farther with his debut release, Shifting Gears. All of these projects hit the streets April 19.

SLUG: Are you excited/nervous about the release of Shifting Gears?

Z-Trip: Yes, I’m excited and nervous. Not in an “Oh my god, how’s it going to do?” sort of way, but when you work on something for a long period of time, you get the butterflies before it comes out.

SLUG: Would you say that you’re self-conscious about it?
Z-T: You wouldn’t be human if you weren’t. No matter what people say … I feel good about it.

SLUG: When you did “Breakfast Club” with Murs, was there more play than work, or vice versa?
Z-T: No man, it was definitely more play. When him and I get in the studio, we never get shit done. He’s a super-cool guy and I think we are always going to be working on music together because we click musically.

SLUG: Did you grow up in Phoenix or Queens? Also, what was the reason for your relocation to L.A.?
Z-T: I was born in Queens, moved to Phoenix when I was seven and my parents got a divorce when I was 12. My dad moved to N.Y. and my mom stayed in Arizona. I was constantly going back and forth. New York is where I got turned onto hip-hop. Listening to the radio, taping the songs and bringing them back to Arizona. So I built my name there and I would go out and do gigs all over the world based out of Arizona. So I took that next step and moved to where the “industry” is: L.A.

SLUG: I see that you worked with Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington on your new album. What was the object of all that? Was it the gathering of money? The satisfying of an audience? Was it purely respect?

Z-T: It was straight to make a pop tune. No, I’m joking. The reason is that he’s from Phoenix too, and the first time I went on tour with them, I was speaking with him and we both found out that we know the same people. So when it came time to make this record, I reached out to him and it was about making a song with another dude from Arizona. It was just that. It was a thumb to everyone who thinks they know our sound. Both of us are pigeonholed as “the guy who screams” or “the mash-up guy.” I said, “Fuck that, let’s do the opposite of what everyone expects of us.”

SLUG: What programs or equipment do you use to make your beats on?
Z-T: EPS 16 Plus, but I make mostly everything on my ASR 10. Eventually everything gets tracked into Pro-Tools for chopping.

SLUG: Who is your favorite band to open up for?
Z-T: Believe it or not, Dave Mathews Band was my favorite because of their crowd. They are the most open-minded to what I do under the umbrella of hip-hop. Then there’s James Brown, Rolling Stones, Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Rush, AC/DC, Linkin Park. I don’t have a favorite. I like them all.

S: What about the Motown Remixed album; what songs did you cover?
Z-T: At first I wanted to do a very conscious, early 70s Temptations track that talks about protesting war. I couldn’t come like that, though. I did a remix of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back;” I had to make it a little more poppy. I’m glad that it’s the lead on the record. I feel everyone did an equally impressive job on the album.

SLUG: When was the last time you were close to having a nervous breakdown?
Z-T: The album advance that went out prior to the one everyone has now was just 90 percent done, working copy to show everyone at the label. Someone took that copy and sent it out before I was finished.

SLUG: Hollywood was ready to take your shit and run with it, eh?
Z-T: Yeah, we almost got off to a really bad start.

With that, I let Z-Trip finish his turkey-tuna sandwich, which was definitely stale by the end of the interview. Check his website,, for more info.