Interview: Ducky is the Rave Queen of Ur Dreams

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Interview: Ducky is the Rave Queen of Ur Dreams

LA-based Ducky has been patiently snagging the ears and getting the nod from the trendsetters and tastemakers that drive dance music. Building on a solid catalog of prime-placed originals and a deep crate of rave cuts; her newest release marks a defining point for the rising star. The self-made producer refined her craft immersing herself in the grassroots dance culture. Armed with a fake ID and a laptop, Ducky found her sound on the dance floor. After growing up in club culture, she spent time in the city that never sleeps before finding a natural home among dance music’s royalty in LA. A few crate milestones are her early pack on Nest HQ, a dreamy EP on Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Songs, and this heavy cut on Nina Las Vegas Records. This producer packs a punch and it comes with a neon disco ball.

Digging throughout the Ducky discography, childish delight brings new faith for a brave new rave world. Each track’s euphoric vocal melodies clash with rock solid bass jabs. This recipe is for dancing; pushing pace to the limit, a Ducky tune leaves it all on the floor. Like the missing link between San Francisco’s golden age of warehouse to an eventual rave on the moon, Ducky’s fresh blend of classic tones, pop culture, and hype delivery are a supercharged step forward in underground music.

Her new EP ‘I Fall In Love With Everyone I Meet’ is an emotic expression of Ducky’s path through production, digital culture, and… life. After years of using production as an escape, this five-part dance floor release is pure passion. Led by rave banga ‘Oceans’, the release is a hands-in-the-air jump-up journey. While digging into the tracks, see what Ducky had to say about how the scene helped raise her and the production software offered an escape. Packed with much more to come, Ducky is just shifting gears, get familiar and hit follow.

Release week right? Give us a quick introduction of ‘I Fall In Love With Everyone I Meet’ and what this EP means to you.

Yeah! It’s funny how things come together. I hadn’t written these songs with the intention of creating an EP, but the events in my life progressed in a certain way where I ended up with these 5 songs, all about these two relationships in various states, and I loved the way they flowed together. It’s a title I’ve been holding on to for a long time, and its release comes at a time where it’s actually never been less true – I’m quite conservative with my romantic love these days! So I guess in a lot of ways it marks both a period of my life and a change. I think that’s reflected in the production and arrangement as well. It’s simultaneously the most cohesive and “me” sounding thing I’ve ever done, and sort of it’s own era of my sound vs. the music I’ve created since. I’m really excited about it. It’s absolutely my favorite release I’ve done so far, and a big step up in my production.

You started producing and immersing yourself in the art of rave from a young age. How has the creative process changed as you evolved as a producer and finished this latest EP?

It looks nothing like it did when I first got started, honestly. When I started producing I was 13, with a copy of Logic Pro 6 and a little interface and live microphone. I was too stubborn to read the manual or take a class. I just hardheadedly sat every day with that software until I could make something I sort of liked. And I basically just wanted to be the Postal Service when I first started, DNTEL was my idol. I was making this lo-fi pop stuff, really centered around lyrics and my voice, not danceable at all. I came from a bad family situation, and it was serious catharsis for me, so there was always this kind of urgency to just get things out as quickly as I could, you know? Like get it out, get it out, get it out! I kept going like that for a while and then went off to NYU to study recorded music when I was 17. I got an amazing set of engineering and production skills there, and I kind of managed to slow down and take a breath. My production process was still very much centered in composition and engineering (rather than sound design) but with much more comfort with my tools and more of a focus on how I was presenting what I wanted to say, not just throwing tracks out there urgently.

The past two years have been the most intense and rapid shift for me, though. I think with any skill, confidence and understanding aren’t linear – rather I found that I got to this point where I felt very comfortable with my tools, progressed a bit more and started to uncover an unbelievable amount of new things I’d never learned. What you know enough to know that you don’t know… you know? I dove into sound design and electronic production specifically. I also started to develop a sound that felt genuinely mine. Now I’m at this point of growth where if I go back to a session from two weeks ago I can’t believe how much I’ve grown since then. It’s a really exciting time for me. Music flows in a way it never has before – every day I’m more comfortable with all of my tools, and the concepts behind them. It’s liberating, not to fight with your system and to put the sounds down from your brain to the session with ease. I can’t get enough – I’m reading this incredible book on Sound Design from MIT Press, trying to get that deep level of understanding you can only get through like, the physics of sound itself.

What originally attracted you and keeps you coming back to the scene? How has the thriving underground/warehouse scene in LA impacted your art?

I fell in love with raving early, maybe age 14. It was an escape for me – I struggled a lot at home and was absolutely not cool in school. I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere. It really wasn’t cool to like dance music then either, you know? But I found these incredible underground homes where I could listen to the music I loved with the freaks like me, where everyone’s intentions were centered in kindness and positivity. That’s a really incredible thing, and I hold onto that no matter how the scene shifts, because I know I’m not the only one who craves it. LA has been really good to me too – there are these incredible parties here that have supported and believed in me, and trusted me to slay the crowd before anything had ever popped off. They gave me room to experiment with harder, faster sounds. They really let me develop honestly. My day ones! And they’re responsible for creating what I believe is kind of unique to LA right now, which is an open space to really try something new and different. I wouldn’t call them raves necessarily, and I don’t know if I could even call them underground anymore because they’re crushing it so hard at this point, but Brownies and Lemonade, Space Yacht, and Ham On Everything will have my absolute loyalty til the day I die.

The EP is five dreamy but high energy cuts of futuristic shit. The sound is somewhat of Porter’s ‘Worlds’ meets gritty rave warehouse. What contributed to the sound of Ducky and specifically this release?

Wow, that’s a high compliment. Thank you! It’s been a long time developing my sound, and I don’t have specific artists to point to that I draw from or emulate. It’s more of like… a spot in my brain, with everything I’ve ever done and felt, that I can tap into. All I really care about is making what I want to hear, and making something that makes me feel. I trust that if it brings up emotions for me, if it conveys that emotional experience I’m working off of, it’s going to resonate with other people. Being human is a shared experience, feeling is a shared experience. Happy and sad. If it’s genuine, I think it shows.

Tight vocals in every track, all you? What’s ur approach to vox?

Thanks! All me. I don’t really have a strategy, though I do have some tricks I typically apply each time I’m processing vocals. I’ll probably go over it in this new production video series I’m starting.

From festivals to major support shows, 2017 has been big for Ducky on the decks. How’s life on the big stage and how do you plan to keep the show fresh?

It’s been wild! I love it. It’s my happiest place. I’m one of those crazy people that feels more comfortable the more people are in the crowd. I don’t worry much about keeping it fresh because two sets are never the same – I’ve never really planned a set before. I’ll have transitions I love, and I’ll typically plan my first three songs because that’s how long it takes me to get in the zone. But beyond that, we’re experiencing it for the first time together. I do have lots of ideas for creating a live experience that I’d love to begin implementing, but right now it’s a matter of resources. As I grow and more becomes available, you can definitely expect things to get wilder and wilder.

Your originals have appeared through a variety of labels and outlets. This year you unveiled Quackhouse. How has launching the label changed your approach to putting out music?

It’s been an interesting shift for sure. It’s really enjoyable, to have the freedom to release whatever I want without answering to another person, and to know I can release what I truly believe in without ever having to go through that thought process of like, where does this fit? Who’s going to like this? Is it too left-field? It allows me creative autonomy. It’s been an emotional process, too, because we don’t have that built in audience that an established label provides. It’s intense to put your whole heart and soul into something, release it, and go damn… is anyone even going to hear this? But I think I’m incredibly fortunate with the fanbase I’ve got. I think they’re the coolest, kindest, most genuinely positive and uplifting people. It’s a gift to be able to release music directly to them, and it’s got me thinking in a completely different way about how to best connect with them and create something incredible for all of us. At the end of the day they’re what matters most, that’s why I do this. So I’m quite excited to continue learning, and figuring out how to do dope stuff for them.

You’re killing the production game and quickly redefining the dance floor. What’s next for the Ducky project? When are you going to do a wild warehouse headline tour?

Ayy, thank you! There’s a lot in the works. I can tell you that lots of new music will be coming. I’ve been learning and growing in leaps and bounds and I’ve never been more excited to share my progress. I’m starting a new video series, Studio Time! with Ducky. It’s sort of production tutorials but mostly just a chance to show my process, what I’ve learned, to share the knowledge and connect. I’ve got some big shows coming up – Nocturnal, Audio on the Bay, and EDC Orlando. And I’d really love to do an UGH JUST RAVE tour! We’re working on ways to bring that party to other cities right now, so definitely keep your eyes peeled. It’ll be happening sooner than you think ^__^

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