As restless audience members at the Masquerade in Atlanta this past Sunday noticed band members setting up on stage, they started to chant with fervor: “Duckwrth! Duckwrth! Duckwrth!”
They wouldn’t have to wait much longer. Soon, Duckwrth, a genre-bending singer and songwriter from Los Angeles, took to the stage to deliver a high-energy performance of songs both old and new. It is evident that he is comfortable with his enthusiastic stage presence, even after an absence of performances throughout the pandemic. Prior to the show, he remarked that “the stage feels like home, for the most part. It’s a different beast, but it’s like riding a bike — you don’t forget.”
Duckwrth first started to receive attention upon the release of his 2017 mixtape, “an XTRA UUGLY Mixtape,” with breakout hit “MICHUUL.” catapulting him onto many playlists. Now, a few weeks after the release of “SG8*,” his latest project, he’s on tour across the country. “SG8*” was billed as a follow up of sorts to his 2020 album “SuperGood,” but he emphasizes that the headspace he was in while making the two projects was different. While “SuperGood” was more about, “pressing play and feeling, you know, super good,” Duckwrth stated that “SG8*” “narrates the state of Earth right now, and humans with our feelings and anxieties and shit.” This message is visible on the opening track to the album, “We Outside,” where he sings, “I had plans, then the whole year was canceled/Now stress and anxiety’s the only thing I plan on.” However, the album isn’t solely an introspection on the state of the world. Many of the tracks on “SG8*” describe pent up energy and an urge to dance. Duckwrth himself said that “as long as people find a groove to just dance and shit, I’m cool with that too.”
Sonically, Duckwrth has evolved between projects as well. “The whole thing with ‘SuperGood’ is the ‘oo’ is an infinity, so it’s like, you have to go into the past to come back to the present, then you know, project to the future,” he said. “SuperGood had a lot of 70’s themes, and now we’re at this middle point at SG8*, where I took those 70’s themes, and brought them the present, and then the next project will be going towards future sounds, and electronic minimalism and everything.” At around the midpoint of Saturday’s setlist, Duckwrth hopped into “Tuesday,” an upbeat track off of “SuperGood” with the lyrics, “Please tell the cameraman to get my best angles / Which is every angle.” From an artistic standpoint, this statement isn’t false – Duckwrth’s works span different mediums and draw from various influences. He recently wrote the story for the music video for “4K”, a single off of “SG8*”, and premiered it at Brain Dead Studio’s Theaters in LA (“that shit was super surreal … I’ve never seen myself that big before,” he said.) He’s been featured on soundtracks for “Insecure,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse,” and more recently, “Space Jam.”
Duckwrth also designs clothing for his brand SuperGood (the brand came before its namesake album), which he aspires to turn into an all-aroundccreative company.
“I’m just definitely thinking about expanding, because I’m already, creative in general. I just wanna expand it, and bring in different creators, and kinda think beyond just the musical side of it,” he said. He’s even working on designing and creating a set of boots by the end of the year, simply for the fact that “for some reason they don’t make blue leather boots for men.”
Duckwrth’s enthusiasm for his ventures is evident on stage as well, from his stage outfit (a fringed set with the SuperGood logo emblazoned on the back) to the concert merchandise booth selling SuperGood clothing.
With such varied endeavors, it’s only natural to draw influence from a wide array of sources. When asked about his creative influences, Duckwrth immediately names Pierre Paulin: “He’s this French furniture designer, and he had very mid century modern furniture. Like beautiful seats and tables and big ass shit, just like beautiful beautiful furniture.”
Duckwrth also cites Playboi Carti as an influence, and specifically his Lollapalooza set from earlier this year. “It was just so fucking radical,” he said, laughing, “and just, he probably said like less than half of his lyrics, but it was just such like a fucking vibe. I don’t know, just watching that shit, and just seeing people being more about the feeling of it, rather than anything else, that shit was tight as fuck to me.”
During his set on stage, it’s clear that Duckwrth tries to replicate this energy, from his interactions with the crowd, to the stellar guest performers he brought with him (EarthGang and Jordan Ward made appearances, and both are featured on his tracks). Even after closing the concert out with the track “SuperGood,” chants for an encore brought him and his band back to stage to perform 3 more songs, including “4K” and “Pandemic Poppin’” off of “SG8*”. It’s apparent that he cares about his audience having a good time. As Duckwrth’s artistry continues to evolve in the future, we can expect to continue to see his creativity take new forms. When asked about his plans for the rest of the year, he simply remarked, between laughs, “Um, get this vinyl out for SG8*, continue on really solidifying SuperGood, like I don’t know, keep dropping s*** … and um, not get COVID I guess. That would be nice.”