Interview by Alli Lindsey
Photography by Hotel Party
A homespun hype man with style slicker than glass, Duckwrth is a Southern Los Angeles rapper marked by his stylish innocence. From breakthrough albums like Nowhere to needlessly humble records like an XTRA UUGLY MIXTAPE and recent works like SuperGood and SG8, the handsome artist sings his raps with natural finesse and wisdom. A powerhouse both in the studio and on stage, a Duckwrth live set can only be described as spitfire. In perfect sync with his crowd, Duckwrth transforms the worlds between hip-hop and rock as he meticulously thrashes through his repertoire. When he’s not touring coast-to-coast and performing at world-renowned festivals, Duckwrth is a simple being concerned less with existentialism and more with taking it slow and having fun. In this down-to-earth interview just ahead of his Day ‘N’ Vegas performance, Duckwrth talks guilty pleasures, the importance of evolution, and his upcoming tour with Billie Eilish.
Alli: In the last few years, you’ve had incredibly successful mixtapes, albums, sold-out shows, and critical-acclaim. That shows a great dedication to refining your craft as a musician, but what is something you’re trying to get better at outside of music?
Duckwrth: Oh! Specifically my human. I need more regimens – healthy regimens. Waking up in the morning and not going on my phone and actually taking ten minutes to meditate. Maybe making some breakfast, and cooking more in general, not fuckin’ Uber Eating all the damn time. Just really taking care of my human – drink more water, lifting weights, exercising, getting ready for tours, and taking care of my mental.
A: What’s your go-to Uber Eats order?
D: I will be basic and just get some Thai food. If I’m really really tired, like terribly tired, I’ll get a pad thai. But I will also get an eggplant tofu or eggplant chicken or stir fry, something like that.
A: You’re based in LA, so what’s the best Thai food in LA?
D: Easy! Night + Market! Their broccoli goes stupid. Everything is really good there and their spice level is perfect.
A: The pursuit to be a creator comes with a lot of mental and spiritual strain. How do you take care of yourself when you’re touring and trying to be the artist you want to be?
D: Sleep!! As much as possible. Like even after the after parties. We got a little after party today because we’re here [Las Vegas], but usually, I try to go to sleep because that shit will catch up to you.
“I feel like there has to be a whole spectrum of music, it doesn’t always have to be deep. It can be fun shit!”
A: Are you a spiritual person?
D: I’m getting back there. I kind of lost my way a bit. But I think spirituality sometimes has to do with being really quiet and just going inward and listening to what’s happening in there. It doesn’t always have to be a religious thing.
A: How does going inward help guide your music?
D: I mean I don’t always get to be introspective in my music, so if I go inward I can listen to what is going on inside, then reflect that into the music. I think that’s the kind of music that connects to people the most. That’s why we have people like…what’s her name? She’s like a big ballad artist, she just came back again. She had that album-
D: Adele! Yes, because all of her shit is fucking introspective as hell and people love it.
A: Do you think music always has to be this introspective, spiritual channel?
D: Fuck no! Sometimes you just need something that’s just, like, mindless. Something to have fun with and not think too deep about. I feel like there has to be a whole spectrum of music, it doesn’t always have to be deep. It can be fun shit!
A: Do you have a life mantra? What do you live by?
D: Evolve. I’m always changing my look. I’m always growing. I’m never caught up in who I was six months ago. I feel like I’m always evolving.
“I’m never caught up in who I was six months ago. I feel like I’m always evolving.”
A: How do you think you’ve changed in the last year with a pandemic, protests, and the state of the world?
D: I feel like I appreciate what I didn’t before being around humans. I appreciate being on stage and the crowd taking in my energy, and that energy exchange we have. I appreciate not having to – no insult to anyone who does – work a 9-5 job. I think if I had to do that I would really go insane, ya know? So I feel privileged to be able to have the job that I have and travel the world. I feel privileged and honored.
A: We’re living in the digital age, everything is social media driven which has a lot of benefits. You’re able to connect with artists and people that you might not otherwise be able to. But there’s also this pressure to have an opinion on everything. People are constantly calling on artists to “use their platform” and be a social justice hero. Then there’s people telling you to “drop the album,” or who to collaborate with. How often do you just want to go rogue and say screw it?
D: I go rogue often haha! I mean you’ve seen Kendrick, he said ‘I’ve been duckin’ the social gim’-
A: Duckin’ the overnight activist?
D: Duckin’ the overnight activist, the social gimmicks. Like I get it, sometimes it’s not healthy for every artist to have something to say because they’re not educated and then they lead people in the wrong direction. If an artist wants to say something – just do the work. And learn from those who are in the field and then develop what you’re gonna say, then say the shit. But I don’t think every artist has to sit there and express their opinion on everything, because we don’t need it.
A: You are a very fashion-forward artist, you have a great style. Being a man decked out in accessories, what do you think are some common misconceptions about men with a penchant for fashion?
D: They think that if you’re a man who is expressive in your fashion that it reflects your sexuality. I think that’s a very ignorant way of thinking. Don’t look at what I wear to understand that. We’re in 2021 and things are changing and people are changing, let’s grow and evolve. But to tell you the truth, I really don’t give a shit. I will wear whatever the fuck I want haha!
“But I don’t think every artist has to sit there and express their opinion on everything, because we don’t need it.”
A: Well…your style is bomb!
D: Thank you!
A: You’re going on tour with Billie Eilish next year! She exists in a different space than you and brings a different crowd. What energy are you planning to bring to the tour?
D: A big one. A great energy. Something that’s a bit timeless so I don’t have to worry about what age demographic is in the house. As long as you just bring your best and do it from a place of love, I feel like it will resonate with everyone. I want to really just show myself, I’m about to go stupid! It’s 30,000+ people, I’m about to go HAM ha!
A: What is the toughest, but most helpful criticism you’ve received as an artist throughout your career?
D: Be a whole lot of you. That’s it. It’s very easy to mimic other people and feel like you need to be a part of the trend. But I feel like the people who really realize who they are, and go inward to be themselves, those are the ones that stand out. Because there is no other you in the whole damn world.
A: Do you ever struggle with that? Staying true to yourself?
D: Yeah, even at my age! I’m definitely a whole lot of myself, but there’s moments where you see what’s trending and think ‘maybe I should be doing that, maybe I should be dancing on TikTok, maybe I should have more trap drums in my shit.’ And there’s nothing wrong with that if it comes naturally. If you end up on TikTok and you have a little dance naturally- cool! But if you feel forced to do it because that’s what’s trending or your management is telling you to do it, that shit fucking sucks. So I say, stay true to yourself.
“Be a whole lot of you. That’s it. It’s very easy to mimic other people and feel like you need to be a part of the trend.”
A: Speaking of TikTok dances, what is your guilty pleasure music?
D: I don’t know if any of it is guilty, I love all of it. Maybe….I don’t know…I have some fist pumping music that I play.
A: Like EDM?
D: But it’s not even bad EDM! I’ll listen to Justice or something like that. Like old justice. So it’s in that vein but that’s nothing I’m shameful about, I’ll play whatever the fuck I want haha!
A: Yeah, Spotify Wrapped is coming up and I’m preparing for the Titanic theme song to be my top played song of the year. I can’t stop listening to it!
D: If the shit slaps, the beat goes, and the harmony and melody is on point…
A: It’s Celine Dion!
D: You can’t be mad at that.
A: When I’m about to do something important or impactful to my career, I like to make gratitude lists to bring myself back to center and calm my nerves. What are three things you are grateful for today?
D: I’m grateful to be on stage, grateful to have air in my lungs, and grateful to be talking to you today.