Z-Trip and T.I. team up for Belly Up Aspen show | AspenTimes.com

Z-Trip and T.I. team up for Belly Up Aspen show

DJ Z-Trip will co-headline Belly Up with the rapper T.I. on Thursday night.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

Who: T.I. and Z-Trip

Where: Belly Up Aspen

When: Thursday, March 9, 9:30 p.m.

How much: $97/general admission; $195/reserved seating

Tickets: Belly Up box office; http://www.bellyupaspen.com

DJ Z-Trip and the rapper T.I. both regularly cross genres to collaborate with a host of other musicians. But, somehow, the two pop-music giants have never worked together.

Z-Trip is hoping to change that tonight, when he and T.I. co-headline Belly Up Aspen.

“If he’s into it and the vibe is right, I’d love to see if we can do some kind of collaborative freestyle thing,” Z-Trip said on the road between Vail and Aspen on Tuesday. “I love doing that kind of stuff. Especially since Aspen — and Colorado in general — invokes the jam-band guy in me and I always want to mess around when I’m here.”

Z-Trip, born Zach Sciacca, is best known as the “godfather of the mash-up” for perfecting and popularizing the form in which he pairs and splices together disparate tracks to make new creations of his own.

The novel approach was born out of his hope to draw listeners out 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 musical elements and pitches that line up compatibly, though their genres may be worlds apart.

“It was about taking those two things that don’t really work together and finding the common thread,” he said.

One of his early breakthroughs, for example, was a mash-up of Tool’s “Sober” and Outkast’s “Bombs Over Baghdad” that improbably married dark metal with upbeat southern rap.

“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 said he asked himself. “And vice versa, how do I get someone who is just into math rock to connect to an Outkast song?”

What he started out trying to do with the form — and what he still aims to do — is bridge the space between those poles and, hopefully, make something brand new out of the combination that lead audiences to fresh discoveries.

“I want to crack their heads open mid-set, 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,’” he explained.

Z-Trip has songs and samples that he’s been working on for as long as 10 years, he said, searching for just the right combinations of tracks.

He has been relatively quiet over the past few years, touring solo and with LL Cool J and doing occasional remixes, but not releasing new music of his own. That, he said, is because he’s been hard at work on “some top-secret projects,” which are nearing completion. He has about 20 new tracks almost finished, he said, and will likely play some of the unreleased material in Aspen while aiming to begin releasing them to the public this summer.

A Belly Up regular, the DJ makes a point of stopping in Aspen and elsewhere in the Colorado mountains when he’s on the road in the U.S.

“I love playing those towns — Vail, Aspen, Crested Butte,” he said. “They all have different things about them.”

He cherishes playing a small room like Belly Up, he said. Playing to a few hundred fans in a packed club works a different creative muscle than the massive festivals where Z-Trip also is a staple. But, he said, he needs both to thrive.

“It’s a little more custom, because you’re looking into people’s eyeballs and you’re able to communicate with them in a completely different way than when you’re looking at a sea of people,” he said. “But if you do too many intimate shows, you want that feeling of dropping a tune and having hundreds of thousands of people move with that.”


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