Dance Pop Star Duckwrth Is Conquer-Plating Anxiety And Functionality

Around three million monthly listeners on Spotify and over 400 million cumulative streams make Duckwrth blessed and comfortable.

“I travel the world performing. I may not be the biggest artist, but I don’t have to worry about where my meals are coming from. I can talk to thousands of people all at once. In 45 minutes, I can experience the closest thing to miracles,” he said. “I tap into a portion of myself, a greater, bigger version of myself. I can’t complain, man. Now, when I talk to my manager, I’m probably complaining a lot. But overall, as a scope of occupation and privilege, I cannot complain.”

There’s a land between contemplation and conquering, and that’s where the young musician operates. His sound is timeless. And to hear him tell it, he borrows equally from the past, present, and future for separate projects. His album SuperGood was 70s nostalgia like warm teak wood. His follow up project SG8* was peak, present pandemic fever. And the music at our doorstep from Duck is as chrome-plated as the projected future each passing day crashes our lives further against.

There’s a wobble and push on every track, the wobble and push of the timeless human heartbeat of joy. He makes music to dance and sweat to, which besides communion with God was music’s original purpose.

From Insecure, Issa Rae’s masterpiece on HBO, to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Duck’s music has touched the holy peaks of our culture. The best of us see the best in him. And anyone who doesn’t is doomed or deigned to live out a sordid life of mediocre taste.

Duck and his friend Matthew sat outside Levi’s Haus of Strauss in Los Angeles’s temperate late July air. Unannounced, Matthew had consumed half a bottle of mango orange juice infused with 700mg of cannabis. He didn’t make mention of it because – simply – he found the whole thing to be more enjoyable that way. A harmless secret can be the catalyst for many an adventure, he thought.

The shopkeeper had warned Matthew to take the bottle one sip at a time. Confident and California carefree, Matthew fancied himself a professional. I graduated from sips in high school, he thought. Something in the keeper’s tone kept him from leaning into the whole bottle, lucky for him. He took the half down one large gulp at a time with disgust and not a few dry gags in the Uber ride over. It hit him like a high tide buries hermit crabs.

“We’re f***ing up the Earth because of fast fashion,” said Duck. “We need humans to stop thinking so much about aesthetic to start thinking about functionality; what is the purpose of this garment?”

Matthew felt like the tip of an air pump you use to plump up a basketball as the wind passes through it, in a pleasant way.

“It’s the same thing with NFTs. We got to talk about – once again – functionality. It’s like the pathway to – not healing but – taking where we’re at right now as humanity and, I guess, making the best of it, not destroying ourselves,” said Duck.

“The thing about perfection is, it’s unknowable. It’s impossible, but it’s also right in front of us all the time,” said Matthew, quoting the duo’s favorite movie, Tron: Legacy.

“Daft Punk did the whole soundtrack. I heard some YouTuber call it bioelectronic jazz,” said Matthew.

“In a weird way – I don’t mean to say weird – all of what we’re talking about is going to come through in Chrome Bull,” said Matthew, feeling the space between the inside of his fingertips leave.

Chrome Bull is Duckwrth’s next project, set to be seven songs. House, Drum Bass, UK Garage, and all facets of dance music will be represented. It’s set to release in early September.

“It sounds like the future, but I don’t want it to feel so much like the future. I just want it to feel new. New is future in essence, rhythm through motion through minimalism and through electronic sonics,” said Duck.

“Dance, electronic already sounds like the future, you know?” asked Duck. “I make to perform. That’s my first thought. I want when you come to my shows, I want you to be able to move and to sweat. It should feel like church. Just let it all out.”

“Cyber-punk,” said Matthew.

“The inspiration is going to be kind of like cyberpunk. But cyberpunk always brandishes an element of a dystopian future. We let technology get out of hand in a certain way. So, it’s this separation of natural from human which contributes to the destruction of man. Like that,” said Duckwrth pointing to a mother and her child.

The kid couldn’t have been more than two years old. He grabbed his mother’s phone from her hand. The kid knew how to interact with it. It looked, to Matthew, like he was playing a game, and then it looked like he was taking a photo. Short attention span, he thought, like me.

The whole thing gave Matthew an uneasy feeling in his stomach. Or maybe it was his diet. The mother went to put the phone away, and the kid started crying, truly wailing. It was the kind of display you’d expect if a Rage Against the Machine concert took place in the DEA’s office. The space was pretty public, so she hastened their exit embarrassed. For the wrong reasons, Matthew thought. I guess we all do, he thought.

That’s why anxiety is at an all-time high,” said Matthew.

“He won’t know how to act in the real world. Psychologically, he won’t know how to speak. He’s already in the meta-world,” said Duck.

“The whole thing makes you shiver,” said Matthew shaking.

“At least we’re two optimists,” said Duck.

“Yeah,” said Matthew. “Worry is preposterous.” The sentence was something of a mantra for him in the sense that he repeated it often and it made him feel better.

“It’s projection, scenarios in our heads. Pain is real. But worry is a fabrication of the future. It d*** sure ain’t prophecy,” said Duck. “I’ve been listening to a lot of Sadghuru. He has this way he speaks. It’s very matter of fact, but also somehow sarcastic. He’s like, you idiot. Why are you stressing? This doesn’t even exist. You were making this. You’re making it up in your mind.”

“I have a couple of relatives that I’ve watched worry for so long. They never really got to experience the joys of life, like my grandpa himself,” said Duck. “He comes from a different generation. He doesn’t want to travel. He never wanted to go to, say, New York. All the people, all the congestion, he’ll say. He thinks ‘what if I get lost?’ I tell him, you’ll be with people. You’re resourceful. No, you’ll be fine”

Matthew went to light a cigarette to calm his nerves which were shaking like they were dancing. That was par for the course on the ticket he bought, and he understood that. His fingers slipped on the flint, and for some reason it made him grin.

“It’s so what if. He’s not tripping about it, but I would be going crazy. I could never let my world stop me from being able to travel,” finished Duck.

“How are you and that girl?” asked Matthew.

“Awh, not anymore. We split it off,” said Duck.

“At least you’re famous. That has to make it easier,” said Matthew.

“I try not to take advantage of where I’m at. When I meet people who don’t know who I am and we’re into each other, that’s tight. They find out later, I suppose. I’m kind of just like navigating it, just kind of throwing colors on the wall to see what f****** creates something,” said Duck.

“Shit is crazy, man,” said Matthew.

“Yeah. Being single is, and doing music is very interesting. It makes good music. I don’t really f*** fans,” said Duck. “I like people who I can see eye level with occupationally. They’re on some other sh**, you know? Cause I want to be fulfilled. I don’t want us to be in this weird hierarchy where they’re like looking up to me.”

“Like George Clooney and his wife, the international human rights lawyer,” said Matthew.

“Exactly,” said Duck.

“How are you going to be George Clooney and be the beta in the relationship,” said Matthew, and the two howled laughing, though ‘beta’ was a bit out of tempo with the times and with the mens’ temperaments. It made it funnier. “Man, I’ve never asked you. I love to ask. Have you had any experiences with psychedelics?”

“My first time I took shrooms was 2012. This girl I was dating, she had a bunch. And she said you should really take ’em. You’re going to change your life. So, it took me months to prepare myself mentally. And I finally took them. And they weren’t hitting at first because I have a slow digestive,” said Duck. “So, I kept taking more and more and more and more and more, and it all finally hit at once. We were at this festival called How Weird in San Francisco. As you can imagine, a festival called How Weird in San Francisco is very f****** weird.”

“I’m standing, and it’s all hitting me at once. This lady is standing in front of me with this Python. It’s going and going around her body. I look up at her, and that sh** was so wild. I’m like, this is crazy. I look down, and it’s fake grass,” said Duck. “I had this overwhelming feeling that this wasn’t right. This ain’t right at all. I got to go. This is stupid. Why am I standing on fake grass? This is not perfect. God doesn’t approve of this.”

Matthew took a blade of grass from the ledge behind him and rubbed it between his fingers while he listened.

“So, I’m trying to leave the festival, but it’s like this literal umbilical cord is connected from me to my friends. I don’t feel it at first every time I try to go. My subconscious would not let me leave. What is going on? Finally, I see my friends. I tell them. I got to go,” said Duck. “I can’t stay here, the fake grass. God wouldn’t approve. Then I left with them, and it went away. And it felt okay. It was probably pretty much my subconscious saying, don’t leave without telling your friends. But it felt like the end of the world.”

“We found a park in the middle of the city. We each climb a different tree and have a conversation in the trees, having a great time, man, just talking about, I don’t know what the f*** we were talking about. It’s probably something wild,” said Duck.

“I tell them, hey, this has been great,” said Duck “I think I’m about to go. They’re like, alright. I have a skateboard. I jump off the tree, grab the skateboard, and skate through San Francisco listening to Jimi Hendrix. I swear, I feel the energy of Jimi Hendrix left in San Francisco. Any lyric that I heard, it all made sense to me. On hella shrooms, it all made sense. I was like, he was so high.”

“Later on, that night, I was still high, and I called my mom, and I called my sister. They don’t know why I was so emotional. I was just high as f*** and appreciating them, just loving them. I had this conversation with God, and whoever they are, they were like if you walk this path of faith, you’ll never have to worry about where money comes from for the rest of your life,” said Duck.

“Any negative experiences with shrooms or psychedelics?” asked Matthew.

“Yeah, when taking shrooms on gray, cloudy days,” said Duck. “It was the worst. Everything is dark. I do remember those moments. I can remember those moments very clear. Even thinking about ’em now, it’s gross.”

“I was just getting into astrology heavy during my college days. And that girl that I told you gave me the shrooms,” said Duck. “We were both kicking it, heavily shroomed out, naked running around in nature and sh**.”

“I found out the year that I was born was the Chinese New Year of the dragon. I got super into dragon Zodiak, philosophy, and all this sh**. I figured out what color dragon I was. I was a blue dragon,” said Duck.

“But so anyway, we’re in nature, kicking it, having a good time. And we find this rock. I’m like, let’s get on that rock. She’s like, nah, that’s for you. That’s your rock. I climb the rock,” said Duck. “It’s a really big a** boulder. I lay on the rock, and all of a sudden, all of these blue dragon flies come out of nowhere and start flying circles around me.”

“I guess that was me being appointed to be the dragon,” said Duck. “That sh** was crazy. That sh** was wild. There’s some other things I’ve seen in nature that were more so anomalies. I can’t really speak on ‘em too much. I just – I know I’ve seen things that if they’re not miliary, there are things that exist beyond this plane.”

“Do you want any of this orange weed mango juice?” asked Matthew.

“I’ve veered away from smoking just cause how they engineer weed now. It makes me dumb a** anxious,” said Duck.

“I’ve been stoned this whole afternoon,” said Matthew.

“Yeah, no sh**,” said Duck.

Duckwrth’s currently on tour in the states, and his European Union tour starts in December. He just released the stunning single “Ce soir” with the ever-talented Syd, and his new EP Chrome Bull drops September 9th.