Best DJ (2009)

DJ Z-Trip

Zach Sciacca, a.k.a. Z-Trip, is arguably the biggest DJ ever to come outta Phoenix. Enjoying a level of superstardom that many local turntablists and mix masters can only dream about, the 38-year-old Valley native has spent the past decade and a half using his stellar scratching skills to propel himself to international fame and glory.

His list of coups and kudos is both lengthy and legendary: Long before he started touring venues around the world and commanding six-figure appearance fees, Sciacca was a member of the renowned Bombshelter DJs — along with Emile and Radar — in the mid-'90s. Painting local clubs and raves with virtuoso soundscapes, Spin magazine cited the trio in 1999 as some of the best wax workers in the nation. And the praise kept on coming.

Rolling Stone dubbed Sciacca the "king of mash-ups" (based on his popularization of the turntablism art form long before it became a danceteria cliché) and gave his 2005 disc Shifting Gears four stars, the highest rating doled out that year. The 16-track album also included a guest appearance by Public Enemy's Chuck D., who's become a regular collaborator, as has artist Shepard Fairey. (And Z-Trip's most recent honor is probably his biggest to date, as readers of DJ Times magazine chose him as "America's Best DJ" for 2009.)

Not bad for a self-taught spinster who started out DJing at friends' house parties, huh?

While Sciacca's success led to his relocating to L.A. almost eight years ago, the Valley native remains intertwined with our electronic dance-music scene. Almost every DJ in the PHX is connected with Z-Trip in some fashion, if only tangentially. His protégés Tricky T and Element can be found burning up the record decks at such weeklies as the Blunt Club in Tempe or Bar Smith's Pinky Ring. Whenever Sciacca comes home, once or twice a year, he not only draws hundreds to his gigs, but also serves as an occasional lecturer at the DJ classes taught by Emile and Radar at Scotts­dale Community College. There have been countless cats who've been inspired to follow in Z-Trip's footsteps.

In October, Sciacca will extend his influence to the virtual world, as he'll become a playable avatar in Activision's DJ Hero video game. Much like its predecessor Guitar Hero did for wanna-be ax-slingers, the interactive beat-juggling title will undoubtedly inspire a crop of future dance club superstars; some of whom will wanna scratch just like Zach.

Best of Phoenix 2009 In Photos


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