With over 20 years in the game, 3 aliases to his name, multiple turnatablist titles and a genre-defining discography under his belt, few artists are more deserving of the title of legend than UZ. From helping father electronic trap music, to constantly pushing the scene forward with Quality Goods Records, UZ is here for the culture. It’s rare for artists in electronic music to truly create an immersive and impressive full length album but UZ has done it not once, but twice in the form of Layers and The Rebirth. For the past year plus he’s been hard at work at his follow up Trinity. A project which he promises is his best work to date. If all this wasn’t enough, he just treated fans to a 4/20 surprise in the form of a 25 track beat tape. The fittingly titled 420MIXTAPE is available on his bandcamp for free download. UZ fans have a lot to be thankful for, and we’re adding to this list with a new guest mix and interview.
The mix features unreleased treats from UZ, Quality Goods Records and a ton of the best underground heaters. As always the mixing and selection is top tier reminding us why he’s the trap king. Our interview explores a wide array of topics, from moving back home to France, to getting an early look into the album, his aliases, social isolation and of course the mask. Listen and read the full interview below.
Tell us about the mix. What was your goal or vision when putting it together?
It’s mainly a mix of stuff I really like right now, some unreleased QGR, some unreleased from me, most of the artists aren’t big (as usual). It doesn’t sound like a festival set, it’s just the right balance.
I didn’t just come up from nowhere overnight. Do your research and understand where I come from and you’ll realize UZ was just a fraction of what I am capable of. My energy, determination will power & hard work has brought me where I wanted in life and I am not done…
You unveiled your identity a few years back but you have continued to wear the mask as a part of your brand. Recently you’ve removed it completely in some of your press photos and videos. Are you officially done with the mask moving forward?
I’m not done with it: I will continue to perform with the mask as UZ. But I want to show that I am a human, being secretive was cool for a couple of years but it was becoming more of a brand than anything else. It could have been anyone under the mask. But I don’t want to be remembered as just that. UZ is just a side of me and I want people to know me better artistically. Listen to what I have done before, see all the things I have accomplished. The mask was just a way to have the fans focus on the music and not me personally, once they were actually concentrated on the music, revealing my identity was more me wanting to open my artistic past to the fans, help them understand who I was and where I came from. I didn’t just come up from nowhere overnight. Do your research and understand where I come from and you’ll realize UZ was just a fraction of what I am capable of. My energy, determination will power & hard work has brought me where I wanted in life and I am not done and I want to be an example for the kids. You can be whoever you want and accomplish whatever you want if you have enough will power & work ethic.
Also, there hasn’t been a single picture of my face on internet in the last 10 years or so and that’s what important for me. I am a private person: I like to keep to myself at all times.
You just moved back to France. What prompted this decision? How are you enjoying being back home?
LA is really cool, I always wanted to live there after my first one year stay in 96/97. I lived there for the last 5 years but one day I asked myself 2 questions: Why am I here and do I want to stay here? I was secluded in my house with my partner and we were working our asses off everyday, me doing music when I wasn’t on tour and her working on the label and management. She was taking meetings here and there but we were literally staying home everyday and not going much outside to meet anyone. The label & management company was developed enough so that we could do everything online and on the phone. We weren’t going to buy a house in the US nor make kids there for several reasons (healthcare/politics…). The food was great but not the healthiest, on top of that, I missed my family, friends, my country/people, the food, the culture! Our lease was coming to an end: this was an opening for a new chapter. So we organized everything and left for our home country right before the Covid pandemic hit the world it seems.
Is there anything you miss about LA?
I miss a few people for sure, also the weather but I gotta be honest, it’s great to feel seasons again!
Have you been checking out the France future beat/future trap scene at all? Artists like sebjin, D0d, Tices, enfnt, madj, etc.? If not, are there any other French artists you’re digging right now?
You know I am always checking the world for new music and I’ve been looking at France of course. Sebjin is really dope! (might have something lined up on QGR?) Hyume is cool too, more in the flume/industrial Trap sound. I received some nice stuff from Chopsoe as well. Trap isn’t as big as it used to be but there’s a lot of cool bass house artists too. France has always been a great musical scene and revealed some crazy talented artists that are now touring the world.
Trinity has a lot of meanings and one of them is my 3 aliases. I have mixed all my aliases and created some more melodic music, I‘ve scratched on a couple of tracks, I am really happy with the project but the music is just the peak of the iceberg really.
How’s the upcoming album Trinity coming along? How does it differ from your previous releases?
Trinity is definitely my best piece of work imo. I spend more time on it compared to The Rebirth which was more spontaneous. I’ve easily spent more than a year on this one, there’s 15 tracks, half of it has vocals and no “buildup/drops.” I feel like everything sounds the same nowadays and all I want is sound different from everybody. Trinity has a lot of meanings and one of them is my 3 aliases. I have mixed all my aliases and created some more melodic music, I‘ve scratched on a couple of tracks, I am really happy with the project but the music is just the peak of the iceberg really. I won’t say more 😉
You mentioned in a previous interview that it will be your last album. What’s next for you as an artist after its release? Why the finality?
I’m not having as much fun as I used to with it. The UZ project was fun, spontaneous, nothing was overthinked. It was almost started as a joke because it was the simplest music I had ever created and released, I wanted to see the feedback I could get on a project so spontaneous. I had my house project PLEZIER going on at the same time. I wasn’t spending much time on UZ but I was really happy with all the music I was making. Plezier was about to blow up but UZ quickly took over all my other aliases and I got stuck in one direction. I love all the music and the projects but I just want to do different stuff. Trinity means the 3 aliases have joined again to form one, there is a lot of meaning for the album name but I’ll keep this for later 😉
You’ve been a hip-hop head for a long time. What excites you in rap right now?
I don’t really listen to modern rap when I am home, I listen to it when I stumble upon some cool stuff on internet and I love it but it isn’t my priority. Most of the newer stuff’s production is just not great quality. The last rap stuff I liked was probably trippythakid produced by Hounds (released on QGR a couple years ago but now is mainly producing rap beats) and that RMR – Rascals video was just crazy. Also I can’t get enough of that ‘The Box’ by Roddy Ricch, the beat is just on another level. Other than that if I was to listen to rap stuff like I always said, I’d go with 90’s hip hop.
I also wanted to release music that’s more melodic and less “drops” so we’re launching a new series soon.
Quality Goods Records continues to be a beacon of the underground, pushing some of the best new artists out. What do you look for when signing a single or EP to the label?
I mean there isn’t a way to get sign with us. It’s really the music that does the talking.
I really look for a certain sound, a certain mixdown, something unique but you could guess it’s a QGR release. I also wanted to release music that’s more melodic and less “drops” so we’re launching a new series soon.
What’s keeping you sane/busy through the Coronavirus outbreak and social isolation?
I am not the most social guy, I don’t really hang out with anyone, I am a loner so the “isolation” is not a problem for me. What makes me go crazy is not being productive in a studio. I haven’t been able to be in a studio for the last 3 months because of the move but I just found a space 5 minutes from my place which is very convenient! The only problem is that when I plugged my monitors I was so excited to work that I forgot to change the voltage from 110V to 220V and I fucked up my monitors. Luckily I found someone to repair them and I should be able to be in my studio in a week time! Other that that, I eat good food, I do a little work out and play Mariokart with friends online so, everything is fine.
Any collabs in the works?
Not at the moment… oh yeah maybe a collab EP before the end of the year 😉
Anti. – ID (QGR Exclusive)
Dabow & LYNY – Caliente
Eliminate – Weeble Wobble VIP (Anti. flip)
GTA – BOOGIE IDEA V2
Bloody White – ID (QGR Exclusive)
Fabian Mazur – ID
OAKK – ID
UZ – Bang Bang
UZ – Fire feat. Solosam (Album Version) (QGR Exclusive)
MineSweepa – VooDoo
Khaos – Head Shot
sober rob – HMO
Jack Slade – Deadbeat
Vestige – Yoppers
UZ – ID feat Holly & $K (QGR Exclusive)
Jon Casey – Kosher
ALTR – Blood
Mursa – Upside Down
Moore Kismet – Tokyo「東京」
HWLS – ID (QGR Exclusive)
LYNY – 7k
UZ & Oski – ID
Episcool – Wasabi
UZ – ID
Great Dane – Bandz On Me feat. LG & City
Camoufly – SAN MARCOS
Chopsoe – ID (QGR Exclusive)
msft – Feel
G-Buck – UR MiND
BLVD. – Full Send
Gurf & M.E. Swank – Pass It
DJ Ride x ELEX – Stay Away
Dabow – Ah Nah
Dabow x Bailo x Jon Casey – ID
Great Dane – Free Money, Free Times feat. Sumthin Sumthin
Anti. – Gate
Blurrd Vzn – ID
UZ – TRAP SHIT 3 (MASTER)