DJ Z-Trip back at Belly Up on Friday
IF YOU GO …
Who: DJ Z-Trip
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Friday, Feb. 8, 9:30 p.m.
How much: $28-$60
Tickets: Belly Up box office; bellyupaspen.com
“I love Colorado,” DJ Z-Trip told The Aspen Times during a recent tour stop here. “And I’m not just saying that because I’m in Colorado. If you know me, you know that I come up here a lot and I love playing these towns.”
It’s true. The innovative mixmaster and beloved “godfather of the mash-up,” with some 20 years behind the turntables, has made seasonal stops here in the mountains for most of his career. He has headlined Belly Up on New Year’s Eve and returned to the club regularly and gave a free show last winter during the U.S. Grand Prix snowboard competition in Snowmass. His current run through Colorado began with a Denver performance and a DJ Master Class at Mile High DJ supply last weekend and includes a headlining slot at Belly Up tonight.
Z-Trip often seems more of a mad scientist than a simple DJ. He said he’s sitting on unreleased songs and samples that he’s been working on for as long as a decade, searching for the perfect combination of tracks. The Phoenix native popularized the “mash-up” form, pairing and splicing together different — often wildly different — songs to make original creations of his own. The groundbreaking approach was born out of his hope to draw listeners out of their silos of taste and introduce them to new sounds.
“A lot of people don’t get into the science of it — they just look at what’s kitschy and the novelty of it all,” he said.
He searches for songs with compatible musical elements and pitches, though their genres may be worlds apart. From the beginning, the mash-up was about bringing people together and building sonic bridges.
“It was about taking those two things that don’t really work together and finding the common thread,” he explained.
He points to one of his early breakthroughs — an unlikely marriage of dark heavy metal and upbeat southern rap — as an example: his mash-up of Tool’s “Sober” and Outkast’s “Bombs Over Baghdad.”
“If I’m someone who is into southern rap and doesn’t know about really interesting, creative rock music like Tool, how do I get that person into Tool?” he recalled asking himself. “And vice versa, how do I get someone who is just into math rock to connect to an Outkast song?”
After all these years, the tens of thousands of records spun and countless shows and tours with LL Cool J and the entire genre he helped spawn, Z-Trip is still aiming to blow people’s minds.
“I want to crack their heads open mid-set,” he explained, “and that’s the science behind it, trying to get people who might not even understand what it is that DJs are doing to understand and walk away with some sense of, ‘I want to follow this guy.’”
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