How Z-Trip's Mission To Be a DJ Conductor at Wavelength Festival Almost Didn't Happen
By: Ian Joulain
It's Friday afternoon and Z-Trip looks a bit groggy. Donning a black Vans t-shirt with grey Diesel jeans and sneakers, he orders a Chai tea along with some breakfast. We are at The Coffee Table in Eagle Rock and the DJ/producer/godfather of mashups has been on tour most of summer. He is fresh off his stint as LL Cool J's DJ on the recently concluded Kings of the Mic tour. Z-Trip has never had a problem staying busy.
This Saturday, Z-Trip--born Zach Sciacca--along with members of the Pacific Symphony are performing at the Wavelength Festival of Music at the Pacific Amphitheatre. In an evening curated by Jason Bentley, KCRW's musical director and host of "Morning Becomes Eclectic," working in conjunction with the Pacific Symphony, it's a night where Sciacca's creative muscles will be flexed. He's even more grateful that he's doing it since the whole opportunity was almost derailed because of a last-minute mix up.
The accomplished DJ has never had an opportunity to perform with an orchestra and the idea has his mind racing at the possibilities. "I've never really seen a DJ with an orchestra, up to this point, that has basically lead the orchestra in a way where the orchestra follows the DJ as selector, party rocker, performer," he says.
In order to help Sciacca integrate orchestral elements into his set Bentley put him in contact with composer/arranger, Joe Trapanese. Most recently Trapanese co-composed the Oblivion score with M-83's Anthony Gonzalez and before that he collaborated with Daft Punk on the Tron: Legacy soundtrack. Trapanese is a heavy hitter.
For Bentley, it was a no-brainer to have Z-Trip in the supporting role to headliner Bonobo on the evening's bill. "I have known [Z-Trip] to be just fearless and that is why I picked him for this project." He says. "I feel like he can take on anything and if he can manipulate that [orchestral] sound the sky is the limit."
While Z-Trip was told that parts of the Pacific Symphony would made available to him there are still ongoing discussions as to what exactly he will have access to, but it doesn't seem to matter at the moment during our initial interview. He's just excited at the thought of his vision-- DJ as conductor.
As he walks through ideas for his set it's easy to see why Sciacca is one of the best at what he does. His creative approach in combining unlike musical elements and blending them seamlessly is what has defined his career and made him a household name in the DJ world. While working the imaginary crossfader as he hums string parts to a potential routine concept, it's clear that despite having not spent much time on crafting the upcoming set his ideas are sound and the payoff will be big if he can execute what his mind has dreamt up. "A huge reason I am so stoked to work with this orchestra...just like the orchestra wants to infuse youth into its world I want to pull musicality into mine." he says.
One other complication outside of not knowing what orchestral resources he will have access to is the fact that Sciacca is heading to Russia in a few days for the better part of a week. Upon his return it will leave him with roughly four days to create, rehearse, and perfect his set before the performance on the 24th. Z-Trip has never met a challenge he didn't like. "Being up against the gun with the pressure and lack of time gets me hyped because it forces me to break through obstacles."
What could possibly go wrong?