By now, most music fans are familiar with the concept of a "mash-up," in which a DJ mixes two or more seemingly disparate songs to create an entirely different sound. But no one does it better than one of the musical movement's pioneers, DJ Z-Trip, whose talents are so sought-after that the Rolling Stones hand-picked him to open for the band - in front of 450,000 people. Z-Trip, real name Zach Sciacca, talked to Miami.com about his upcoming show, Wednesday night at LIV at the Fontainebleau (4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach).
What can we expect from your show?
Well, it depends, really. I can go sort of anywhere with it. I don't usually tend to plan it out too much, because I've found that if I do that sometimes, if it goes somewhere else, then I'm stuck, with no backup plan. So the main plan is to always go in a little unprepared - I mean, obviously I'm prepared and I know what I'm doing, but I don't like to have too many expectations of where it's gonna go. It leaves me an opportunity to dip and dive a little bit. That's what I think I'm the best at - freestyling and riffing.
What do you hear in certain songs that makes you think they'd go well with others? Is there a sort of "a-ha" moment?
[Laughs] Yeah. Each song has different qualities and different properties, but I can't say exactly what it is, other than there is that moment where it kinds of jumps out at you. I'll be in a deep conversation over dinner or something, and if there's music on in the background it's like my radar is always on. I'll literally tune out whatever the hell - it could be the most in-depth conversation. If there's a song that pops on that has that quality to it, I'll actually stop and gravitate toward it. And I do this without even realizing it, and I'll have to end up apologizing.
But to answer your question more in-depth, I'm a big fan of space in music. If a song has a lot of space in it, it allows you to put other things in that space. If a song is really busy and full, it's really hard to add other things to it. The more space between a drum and a kick, the more I'm apt to probably mess with it, if it's a good tune.
So something like AC/DC is easy to work with?
Oh, all day. And anything that has rock riffs. You take pretty much 80 percent of AC/DC's catalog, and you can do pretty much anything with it. But the downside is, AC/DC doesn't like you messing with AC/DC tunes [laughs].
What's the strangest mash-up you've ever created?
Oh, wow. They're all strange. There are things that are more funny, like tongue-in-cheek, and there are things that are more abstract. The Tool/OutKast blend I did was really over-the-top, and the Janis Joplin/DJ Shadow mix, with "Mercedes Benz." Some of those are just so abstract.
How did you hook up with the Stones on tour?
That was something that was very last-minute. Literally a week before, I got the phone call. And it was a festival, with the Stones, AC/DC, Rush - the Guitar Stock festival up in Toronto. And so I went out there totally unprepared - I was like, "What the f--- am I going to play?" It was 450,000 people - like DJing for a small country. I was totally nervous and didn't know what to do or where to go with it. So I'm smack dab on the stage looking at everybody, and my song was the Janis Joplin thing - I thought everybody was gonna relate to it, and once I did it, it totally worked. Throughout the course of my set, I was able to play some drum-'n'-bass and some crazy electro and rock stuff and hip-hop stuff, and the crowd was totally into it. And I was so excited, because it could have totally gone another way.
My last song I played was "Revolution" by The Beatles, and I told everybody to put a peace sign in the air, and everybody was swaying their peace signs back and forth. And it was the most epic thing ever, 450,000 people doing that as I'm walking off the stage, one DJ.
What do you think of Miami?
I get there about once a year. I've always loved Miami, but it's sort of skewed for me. I think a lot of people think of it as the beach, and "Miami Vice" or whatever. I look at it as the first place for bass music for me, with 2 Live Crew and all that. Miami is dope - don't get me wrong. But I'm also a fan of some of the other stops, like Liberty City, because those are the places that sort of birthed that whole sound. People are like, "Oh, the food is amazing," and I'm like, "No, it's the music." I mean, if I go to Jamaica, I'll check out the beaches, yeah, but I'm really going there to buy records.