Trap is kind of old hat. The 808-driven, drug-smuggler sound has been a hip-hop staple for 20-plus years. Even its most recent takeover of the EDM world is a phenomenon pushing four years, a lifetime in trend-speak.
It seems whatever can happen in trap already has — unless you're talking about UZ.
The mysterious masked producer remains the undeniable king of the dance-floor movement, mostly because he doesn't identify with the rest of the "scene." He plays festivals, but he won't play festival trap. He delivers a dark, jarring, original take on the sound more in line with the genre's rap roots than its laserific present.
UZ sees the writing on the wall, and rather than stagnate, he concentrates on moving his sound forward. His new EP, Frontier, is just a warmup for a debut album he promises will be his "best work." You can catch his new auditory arsenal this Friday at Space, but first, New Times caught up with him via email to learn more.
New Times: You've come a long way in the two years since we last talked. Most recently and notably, you retired your Trap Shit original series. It had a long run with 25 editions. What made you comfortable with calling it quits?
UZ: I feel like the Trap Shit series was the introduction. Now I'm writing a new chapter, which will be my full-length album.
Frontier opens with "Gladiator," which in turn opens in a very cinematic and grandiose fashion. Does creating that sort of atmosphere require that you pump yourself up, and if so, how do you get yourself in that headspace?
I like to write music that you can put an image to. I've always wanted to do sound design or a score for a movie. That's what I had in mind when I wrote "Gladiator." It's not difficult to understand where the inspiration came from — the name says it all.
This morning I was listening to the new Snoop Dogg album, and it's funky-smooth. What do you listen to when you want to chill?
I watch Netflix to chill.
You recently said on Reddit that you're a fan of the hip-hop side of trap more than the EDM glitz and lasers. Which trap producers inspire you most?
Right now, I like the work of artists such as Quix, Party Thieves, Oski. There's a lot to name. I really like what Sam Gellaitry is doing and the whole Soulection crew.
In the years since the trap sound has exploded, we've come so far and maybe strayed from the core ideals of where it all got started. In your mind, what is the essence of trap? What is this whole sound all about?
Trap is originally Southern hip-hop, 808 beats, crazy high-hat patterns. Also, drug deals are made in the trap house where the dealers are hanging — nothing to do with "EDM" trap.
What's your favorite noise you've created, and in what song can it be heard?
I'd say the synth in "Trap Shit 6."
You mentioned a proper LP dropping in 2016. Are you already working on it? Is it all new, or will it contain some previously unreleased work from throughout the years? What makes you confident that it will be your "best work"?
I was already working on an LP, but we decided to release some of it — this was the Frontier EP. I really like the new ideas and sounds I'm experimenting with right now, so I might just start the LP from scratch.
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Are you familiar with the history of Miami's Club Space? It just celebrated its 15th anniversary and has been the site of many historic marathon sets and daybreak moments. What are you going to do to build upon that legacy?
Club Space is a legendary club. I'm looking forward to playing on such a great lineup, and I will definitely outdo myself that night.
UZ with GTA, Mija, UZ, and more. 10 p.m. Friday, August 14, at Space Nightclub, 34 NE 11th St., Miami; 305-375-0001; clubspace.com. Tickets cost $25 to $30 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 18 and up.