A Conversation with Duckwrth Backstage at Feels V

Wine and Bowties exceeded the highest of expectations this year with their all-encompassing Feels V concert in Oakland, CA. On May 28, over 2,300 individuals made their way into a warehouse-turned-playground, characterized by over 40 art installations and two stages. Among inebriated reunions with friends, indie vendors, and unbothered sweat-enhanced crowds, we found rising artist Duckwrth to be a primary subject matter in enthused conversations between concert-goers. Raised in Los Angeles, having lived in Oakland, CA, Duckwrth is a multifaceted rapper and singer, who is slated to carry the torch of what progressive funk-rap and futuristic R&B will look like. More importantly, Duckwrth is also a young artist who holds a prized possession: knowing himself. His personality and experiences creatively bleed through his music thanks to his organic perception of the world, along with a heightened understanding of how music came to be.

Stylishly dressed and fresh off of his performance at Feels V (which truthfully felt more like a headlining spot), I somehow caught up with Duckwrth backstage for an impromptu interview on my iPhone. By the time this interview actually took place, I was a few (or many) drinks in, thanks to my “stage” wristband which granted me Nardwuar-access for the night (thank you Max & Will!). Hence, the energy during this spur-of-the-moment conversation can never be recreated, besides what I can offer to you here. On that account, I present to you our conversation from Feels V below.

So you’re in the process of finalizing a new project! What can you tell us about your new music?

It’s called I’M UUGLY and it’s just bringing that old funk-feel to the forefront with a younger face. It’s just ugly shit.

How is I’M UUGLY different from your last project?

My last project was more punk-driven. I was in New York so shit was just darker. This one is way more vibrant and the music feels like the sun is out.

You’ve been celebrated a lot lately for simply being yourself in your music. When I listen to your music, I feel like I’m getting to know you. How did you arrive at this point musically?

I pull from my predecessors, although I’m myself. It’s the people who came before me that helped me to be myself. I have to give Prince all due justice. He helped me to be open with androgyny, as well as Hendrix. I’m just happy that people are picking my music up and appreciate that I’m not doing the usual shit.

You’re going on tour with Anderson .Paak which is major. How did that come about?

Pretty much I did this studio session with Mr. Carmack and then Anderson .Paak shows up, mind you this was a year and half ago. Anderson .Paak started to play some of his music at the session and it sounded like Teddy Pendergrass. It was amazing. He’s a very pleasant person but when he gets on the mic you’re wondering ‘how do you belt this shit out’. In the session, they were grooving and then I started spittin’ to myself and they’re like ‘aye you got that?’. I recorded it that day and they put it on the track. After that session, they dropped the song a year and a half later on Soulection radio.

Later on, my manager reached out to .Paak’s team about the tour and let them know that I was a big fan of him and .Paak mentioned he was a big fan of me as well. A few days later they hit us back up and told us that we got the spot. I didn’t believe it for a good month.

#MALIBUTOUR 🌴 me & @anderson._paak @channeltres

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You’re super versatile on your records when it comes to exploring different vocal and rap styles. Do you prefer rapping or singing?

Both, whatever comes out. Sometimes I’m supposed to be singing on stage and I end up rapping. Sometimes I’m supposed to be rapping on stage and I end up singing. It depends on what the feeling feels like. I came from singing first because I was in the choir at a young age and later on I ended up rapping. But sometimes rapping doesn’t have enough harmony so I’ll just take the rapping and put rhythm and harmony behind it.

We’re seeing artists re-connect with their gospel upbringing throughout non-gospel projects. How did gospel music influence you?

My mom and dad were actually in a gospel band. My dad played keys, guitar, drums, and they were making gospel albums with full bands when I was growing up. I used to try doing my homework and I would say ‘fuck this shit’ and I would go in the living room and watch them practice. That’s what I was raised on. A lot of gospel, a lot of reggae, and jazz. Later on my dad put me on to Hendrix and Zepplin. My mom was so against hip-hop at the time but my sister would sneak and listen to it. She’d be playing hella Outkast and hella Roots. I got really addicted to Outkast at an early age.

There’s a lot of Andre 3000 influence in your music. How do you feel about comparisons?

I don’t give a fuck – that niggas amazing. He can disappear and reappear when he wants.

How do you ultimately describe your sound?

Funk-wave, that future-bounce — taking rules from before and putting a new face to it and presenting it in a whole new different way.

What do you want people to take away from this interview?

The best thing you can do for yourself is to love yourself, accept yourself, and then when you really find yourself, do everything to reflect yourself.

Lastly, describe your future in one sentence.

Infinitely 88.

Follow Duckwrth: Instagram | Twitter | Website | Soundcloud

Visit Wine & Bowties for the official Feels V recap.

Evangeline Elder

Evangeline Elder is an Oakland-based writer who enjoys absolutely nothing. Just kidding (sort of).