Z-Trip Talks Growing Up in Phoenix, Johhny D., Crate-Digging, Mexican Food, Smite, and More
Practically every turntablist, mixmaster, or knob-twister in the Valley has some sort of connection to Sciacca, either because they were inspired by the local legend, partied alongside him, emulated his mixing style, or followed in his footsteps. It's been more than a decade since Z-Trip left Phoenix, and the cat still casts a large shadow.
Before getting a taste of superstardom - which includes getting mad love in the pages of Rolling Stone, opening for the actual Rolling Stones, hanging with Shepard Fairey, or a million other claims to fame, Sciacca worked clubs like Nita's Hideaway, was a part of the seminal Bombshelter DJs (along with Radar and Emile), and helped lay the groundwork for the current scene.
He still keeps tabs on his old stomping grounds and even returns for a hometown gigs now and again, much like he'll do this weekend when he headlines the Merry X-Ray benefit for his old friend Benjamin "Mr. Puma MC" Walker on Christmas night at the Crescent Ballroom.
Your career got started in Phoenix back in the '90s. What was it like DJing in those days?
It was a great time. You had to do things out of necessity, like finding your own records, which I think helped spawn our sound and laid the groundwork for everything that followed. The connection that I had with other DJs around town and how, back then, the scene was small enough that everyone was friendly and there wasn't much rivalries so to speak. There was friendly competition, like you'd have with anything, but there was more of a bond. We had to stick together.
We were creating our own thing that was very organic and specific to our region because we were all dealing with the same pitfalls and trying to be DJs in a town that didn't really have the biggest support group for DJs. We didn't really have a radio station rally behind. We didn't really have national acts coming through town. We had to create our own clubs, we had to create our own record stores. We had to create our own everything, so it made us into who we are today and that's something I'm really, really happy for. I was bummed as fuck about it really early on because it was super difficult. We forged our own way and created our own sound and I think that all the DJs that have come afterwards that might have been inspired by what we all did in that era. All the DJs like Tricky T, Element, and M2s that all came after. All those dudes are all an extension of what groundwork was laid. I'm happy to be part of that.
Do you consider yourself a godfather to the Phoenix DJ scene?
I guess that's for others to decide. If it wasn't me, it was definitely a collected group of all of us from that era. For certain things I feel completely responsible, for other things I feel like I was just there doing what any DJ would do at the time. That's a very modest answer, but I do look at other people who were in the Phoenix scene at the time. I couldn't have done it without people like Pete Salaz or Eddie Amador. Those are guys who all helped out. I couldn't have done it without Russ [Ramirez] from Swell. I could go on and on. There's a million people that I could name that were all components to the scene back them. I think we were all doing our part.
Are you a fan of any other Valley DJs?
The person I really need to shout out to is Johnny D. When I met that guy, he was like one of the dudes who's been another forefather of DJing in Phoenix. He's the guy who was pushing funk and that kinda stuff early on when I was living in Arizona. I met him much later randomly and then found out his background. Anything related to funk in Arizona, this guy knows it. Not only funk but he knows everything collectively and really champions Arizona music. There's people like him that need recognition.
He'll blow your mind probably with everything that came before. He's the man and the whole crew that he rolls with -- Smite and Djentrification -- those guys have their own sound and they're doing great things. I remember when Smite was playing cumbias in those days. All those Arizona guys, I want to shout them out because they're all so dope and they all have their own sound and collectively I feel like [Phoenix] is on par or better than some of these other towns out there because of them. I'll go on the record and say that.