interview by MAREK BARTEK

Genre-bending multi-hyphenate artist and designer Duckwrth has taken the music world by storm with his unique sound and captivating performances. He has successfully carved out his own distinctive style that seamlessly blends Hip-Hop, R&B and Rock and defies categorisation. Currently, Duckwrth is working on his highly anticipated project, his third studio album.

One of your biggest successes so far was your 2020 album ‘SuperGood’, receiving widespread acclaim, with tracks like ‘Super Bounce’ and ‘Kiss U Right Now’. What inspired the creation of this album and how did you experience it getting so much praise?
Honestly, I made my album ‘SuperGood’ with literally one intention in mind, to make an album that felt Super Good. I wanted people to press play and get a rush of good energy. Funny enough, ‘Super Bounce’ and ‘Kiss U Right Now’ were the easiest records to write on that album. I think it was accepted so well because I finished it in January of 2020 (right before the world shut down), and released it later that same year at a time when so many people needed a silver lining. It felt like ‘Super Good’ was that positive reinforcement people needed.

You’ve truly had a rapid growth and success. What was that like? Do you have favourite moments and, on the other hand, some things you have struggled with?
For some reason, I feel like I haven’t had a rapid growth. As an artist and in the industry, my elevation actually took time. The struggle is trying not to compare my growth to anyone else’s. A lot of people become successful overnight and I naturally start to compare my success and my trajectory to theirs. What takes me out of that toxic thought process is remembering that I’ve performed in front of 20,000+ people in arenas across America and overseas. It’s crazy how someone else’s success can pull you out of perspective of your own accolades. 

With influences like Outkast or N.E.R.D, your music is often described as genre-bending, blending elements of hip-hop, R&B and rock, creating a resistance to being boxed in. As someone who challenges categorisation, how do you navigate the ever-changing landscape of the music industry?
I feel like I listened to such a wide array of music in high school and in college that it moulded me to be this genre-bending artist. It’s not even something I attempt to do, it just naturally comes out. In this ever-changing landscape of modern music, I stand strong on my sound. But every once in a while, I end up making a song I have no business making. No one wants to hear Trap Duckwrth lol.

On top of your unique approach to genre, you often work with diverse artists. From Tobe Nwigwe to A-Trak, how do these collaborations shape your music and creative process? 
I never quite understand how I am such a chameleon when it comes to creating sound, so I also give credit for that to a wide palette of music that I listen to. Crazy difference between hip-hop and house music is house will humble any rapper. We’re use to giving two 16 bars, a hook, and maybe even a bridge. For house music, you’re lucky to get a full hook and some adlibs sprinkled around the track. 

Your upcoming album promises to delve into personal and introspective themes. What inspired this direction and what can fans expect from the album?
I noticed that I was hitting a ceiling in my career as an artist. I asked my manager what could this invisible wall be? She said “well you’ve never been brutally honest with your fans. Listeners have a deeper connection with artist that shed it all”. I sat with that. A year in a half later, I had 40+ tracks of me going the deepest I’ve ever gone on wax. I spoke on past relationships, and the failure of those due to infidelity. I spoke on my battles with sex and alcohol addiction. Even wrote a song about my father and how his iniquities shaped my view (and fear) of commitment. This is quite literally the best album I’ve ever written, and I can’t wait to start rolling it out. 

full look K.NGSLEY

How do you balance vulnerability with maintaining a sense of authenticity in your lyrics?
I’ve learned that vulnerability IS the best way to maintain authenticity. When you’re emotive through your lyrics, you’re literally showing the world your truest self. The only thing you could do to top that level of vulnerability is strip naked and sing your most emotional song a-capella. 

Beyond your music, you’ve been involved in various media platforms, including film, television and global brand campaigns. How do these experiences shape your artistic vision?
It allows me to know that there are so many possibilities outside of releasing music on streaming platforms. I remember how shocked (and happy) I was, seeing my artist & real name on the end credits of ‘Spider-Man Into the Spiderverse’. Now, acting is a whole other beast. I had two lines in a show on HBO, and I was shaking the whole time reciting those lines. When I watched it back months later, all I could do was critique my little two liner (because I’m a slight bit of a perfectionist). But I’m very grateful that my career has led me to opportunities outside of music. 

full look KENZO
necklace MIANSAI

As an artist who values individual expression, how do you stay true to yourself navigating the expectations of public and the music industry?
Sometimes I have to listen to the music I loved in high school and even listen to my old albums to remember who I was then and why I started making music. Being in the industry will have you forgetting who you are, trying to keep up with the trends. I don’t think younger me would be proud of older me going down that path. So I’ve learned to have a healthy relationship with him (younger me). It helps a lot.

In what ways do you see your music evolving in the future, both sonically and thematically?
I feel like I’m getting weirder as I get older. So I see my music becoming more psychedelic & electronic. I see my lyrics becoming more emotive, more cheeky, and even more self reflective. I’m in my late bloomer Ziggy Stardust phase now. Maybe in the future I’ll be giving 1980’s David Bowie, who knows. 

What advice would you give to aspiring artists who are looking to carve out their own path in the industry?
Your Superhero power lies in the fact that there is no other YOU in the whole world. So be a whole lot of YOU. It seems that people respond very well to authenticity. And it’s OK to play with different genres and take part in various trends. Just do them in your own way so that you don’t lose yourself. But above all, have fun with this shit. The moment that it’s no longer fun, it’s officially a job.

trousers DET BLEV SENT

photography and creative direction YANRAN XIONG
makeup AMANDA WILSON at OPUS Beauty
digi tech EU JIN LEE
photography assistant PAUL CHIN
director of photography MAXIMILLIAN PAPADOPOULOS
assistant camera CHRIS BALESTRA
video production ADDITIONALCONTENT
interview MAREK BARTEK