Back in 2015, DUCKWRTH led us on an adventure to Nowhere with The Kickdrums, blurring the lines between hip-hop, electronic, and rock. Balancing ethereal slow jams like “Indica La Roux” with mosh pit-inducing headbangers like “Skank,” the project showcases his genre-bending sound and malleable flow. The purveyor of funk wave has since continued to hone his wide range of artistic ventures, including graphic design and fashion, leading to the release of his debut LP that officially drops today, I’M UUGLY.
DUCK builds upon previous singles “GET UUGLY” and “Rare Panther + Beach House” with a complete collection of lush soundscapes, sweetened by guest appearances from Sabrina Claudio, Georgia Anne Muldrow, and Hodgy Beats. His journey laced with synths, funk, and eclectic percussion expands upon tropes of love, mosh-pits, and life in South Central Los Angeles. Press play below, pick up your copy via iTunes, and check out our full interview with DUCK after the jump.
Who is DUCKWRTH?
DUCKWRTH is an alien entity that crashed landed in South Central Los Angeles and was raised by two women, one with the last name of Duckwrth. This alien entity ’til this day tries to blend in with society, but fails miserably. He does what he knows best and creates art that reflects his native planet, the Fifth Nebula, and combines those stories with his experiences on Earth. I could tell you more, but I think he’d prefer if I didn’t.
Having traveled from LA to San Francisco to New York, how has each area influenced your life/career, and is there one you prefer over others?
LA is for guud weather, guud music, cool girls and low-riders. The Bay is for the creatives. The ones who want to create with no boundaries or barriers. The ones who want to find other aliens like themselves.
NY is for the workers. The ones who want to take what they create to a whole new level. NY teaches a young alien how to hustle and how to become more than an artist, but more specifically, a brand. Because I’ve learned so much from all three places, I have no favorites, but I do prefer to be in places where there are trees and guud harvest (fruit and women).
You’ve said that the first song you can remember is “Phantom of the Opera.” What kind of music were you listening to growing up, and who are some of your musical influences today?
I grew up listening to classical composers and orchestras, along with a shit ton of gospel—this of course made me even more alien. Today I listen to myself, my peers and garage punk when an alien needs to get a bit skummy.
You draw a lot of inspiration from Japanese culture, as reflected in your music, fashion, and even the stylization of your name. What attracts you to this world?
I am a futurist that appreciates vintage guuds. Tokyo’s (Japan’s) culture is big on future innovation—inventions that move us into the next plateau of existence—from fashion and technology to culinary and art. If I could embody that as an artist in the States, I’d be dumb ass lit [laughs]. Simply put.
What exactly is funk wave?
Funk wave is a genre of feeling. Funk music itself has a certain deep spirit to it, and when played, a feeling of euphoria hits and the listener’s face starts to frown up. They frown, not because they are sad, but because they feel. Funk wave can be any genre, as long as there’s that deep UUGLY’ness one feels while listening—that’s funk wave.
From music and fashion to graphic design, you’re involved in just about every avenue of art. How did you get started, and is there a medium you prefer?
I got started in creation itself at a young age. I knew I wanted to do fashion when I started designing clothes in high school and had my first fashion show at my sister’s college. I was so young and stoked on life. My models I had walking were taking their clothes off right in front of me. I knew I picked the right occupation [laughs]. Music was always around, being that most of my family is musicians. I didn’t want to do music in college though—I just wanted to be an ill fashion/graphic designer. But music kept popping up in my life in numerous ways & before I knew it, I was in my first hip hop band. The rest is history. I hold no medium of art over the other because it’s all design to me.
What form of personal growth have you experienced with I’M UUGLY?
UUGLY is about acceptance. Learning graphic design made me a meticulous creator, but the day I started accepting that nothing will ever be perfect and it’s actually the textures of life that make shit individual, I just stopped caring about being so pretty, i.e. I’M UUGLY.
What do you want listeners to take away from the project?
I want them to transmute their textures of life—either being gapped tooth, clef lip, big nose, flat ass, freckled face, skinny legs, etc.—into something beautiful. I feel like more of an individual now that I have a gapped tooth smile, and that makes an even greater feeling of being the only DUCKWRTH in this world.
You’ve also released a line of merch in support of I’m Uugly. Tell us about the thought process behind these wearables.
The thoughts behind the merch is to mix vibrant colours with colors you wouldn’t usually match together. I feel the color brown is amazing, and I don’t see enough people using that color palette in art and fashion. So, I use the funk out of brown in my garments. And not to flex, but I think I do an awesome job at it. Or was that too UUGLY? [laughs]
As an artist, live performances are one of many aspects that can set you apart from the rest. What’s your approach to performing, and do you have any pre-show rituals?
My approach to performance is to leave everything on the stage—whether the audience funks with it or not, they can’t say I didn’t give my all. I’m also big on crowd interaction. They barely know me in most cases. I like breaking that wall down so we can hurry up and have fun already. My pre-show ritual is bumping Bad Brains hella loud and head banging a couple times before I go out. Sometimes I pray.
You recently wrapped up touring with Anderson .Paak and his crew. How did that come about, and how has life been on the road?
Anderson and I come from the same planet. He reminds me of what life is like there and how I can make the art I create on Earth move bigger crowds and affect people enough to want to press replay again and again.
What’s next for DUCKWRTH?
I need a brand new house. I need an Uber sponsorship. I need a foreign chick that speaks 10 dialects. Next is an I’M UUGLY tour and hopefully an UUGLY app.
What advice do you have for the aspiring creatives out there?
BE YOU / FUCK NORMS / EAT PRODUCE / HELP OLD PEOPLE ACROSS THE STREET / TAKE CARE OF YOUR CREATIONS (CHILDREN)
Anything else you’d like to add?
God loves the UUGLY.