It's a recent Friday night and the interior of the TrapZillas house is a busy and chaotic hurricane of noise and activity. As vintage NBA playoff game plays loudly on a gigantic HDTV in the background, at least a half-dozen people are busying themselves with bongs and blowtorches in the kitchen, crafting beats on banks of synthesizers in the den, or just hanging out.
Sitting in the middle of this hullabaloo at a dining room table cluttered with sports trading cards, a pair of new Nikes, and a mason jar containing premium buds are Adolfo "Dolfz" Salazar and Logic Ali, the DJ and producer at the heart of the Phoenix-based trap music act. The hectic and often-busy tumult of their North Scottsdale residence is apropos, considering their busy schedules - including performing at Trapfest on Saturday at the Monarch Theatre -- and TrapZillas' frenzied rise to prominence over the past year.
Since forming last summer, Dolfz and Logic have produced with trap/hip-hop talents like Harry Fraud (as well as such locals as Sluggo and Luminox), and scored thousands of Soundcloud clicks with tracks released practically on a weekly basis. They're also in tight with always-eccentric rapper Riff Raff, who featured Salazar in the music video for their joint track "Neon Freedom," and have worked gigs like Mad Decent's Block Parties and the current Trapfest Tour.
They've got plenty of opinions on trap music, a hybrid of EDM and southern rap, and were more than willing to take a brief respite from the madness to speak with Up on the Sun and give their two cents.
Salazar is particularly outspoken (we aptly stated last year that "bragging seems to be as natural a biological process" to the cat as respiration) on such subjects as trap music's constant state of flux, the dominance of marketing in the EDM zeitgeist, and how DJs are currently held in reference. We also got to hear the wild tales behind a visible scar and another gnarly-looking wound, how he originally moved to Phoenix with only a c-note in this pocket, and numerous other topics.
In fact, Salazar dominated the first part of our interview before Logic eventually piped in and dished on each of their roles in TrapZillas and how drug connections originally brought the two together as friends.
So how busy are you these days?
Salazar: Pretty fucking busy, because I'm the type of person that I know how fickle relationships are in the music industry. So when I have any opportunity to get something done with somebody, I take full opportunity to get it done right then and there.
But then that's backfired on me too, because I paid for a Lil Reese feature and I still have that sitting there, and after everything that's gone down with him, what do I do? Release the track and full marketing behind him and then associate myself with everything that's going on there? I don't think that's going to be best bet for me long term, either.
There's a give and take with that. But then I'm working with a lot of other young artists, like After the Smoke--we did a whole EP with them that I still have and they just got signed to Warner. So now I have an EP with a signed artist that has no release yet, and I'll let them go through their marketing and promotion and then I'll dump it and I'm just attached to all that. So I guess my trajectory with music stuff has been all business strategy [rather] than anything else. It's been that way since I first moved out here from L.A.
How did you get that scar on your arm?
Salazar: This is an interesting situation. I was like 15 years old, I was getting kicked out of my house and I was screaming at my mom. Just slammed a glass door and it went through. That was the first time I was out of my house. I have a black spot on my eye that was [from] a hanger in kindergarten. I thought I was a Ninja Turtle. Literally, swear to God, that's how it went down. I unraveled hangers, I got my neighbor, and we were playing swords and it just went down.
What's the story behind the tattoo on your other arm? I just got this done recently. That's an 808 drum machine, and that's where all the bass comes from hip-hop and most of dance music today. This is a peacock, because when I was a kid and I used to jump out of the window from my house to go fuckin' smoke or go fuck bitches or whatever might be the case at the time, the peacock would start crying, every night. And I always got home safe. So I always felt like it was watching over me in some weird way, so I've always had a thing for peacocks. And my mom's maiden name is Rosa, so that's what the roses are for.
How did you first come to Phoenix? When I first moved out here, I literally, literally moved to Phoenix with $100 in my pocket and a Mormon family was gonna take me in. Did that--I was able to build an Internet marketing business that's done extremely well in a short period of time and is still operational today. But the people brought and originally met [in L.A.] are kind of still in my same circle.
One of my best friends out here is Thomas [Turner]. He was good friends with my friends back from the rave scene, the people from Go Ventures, the ones that put together the Monster Massive. He knew them, so when I moved out here I got connected to Thomas and that's kind of been one of the biggest reasons why we've been able to have some direction out here. Going from the Dolfz stuff to the TrapZillas stuff has been interesting.
How would you describe TrapZilla's take on trap? I would say that we flirt with trap, and I use it as a marketing strategy more than as a robust feel to a genre, to a sense. Because when you look at what people consider trap...if I play a dubstep track at 140 [B.P.M.] with a lot of lasers in it, everybody thinks I'm playing a crazy trap drop. And that's just the reality of it. So I found that it's more just keeping a very urban feel to my way of playing EDM.
So if I'm playing a house song, it's a ghetto house song, you know what I mean? It's gonna have something about some bitch's ass or ratchet this or pop this, pot that. But it's about having a connection with that crowd that takes them to that place. I don't people to sit there and listen to our sits from a very, very serious perspective, because I don't think you should be going to a trap show with that kind of thought process.
And I think you're starting to see some purists in the trap scene, but the whole concept of trap is ridiculous to me because its a marriage of EDM and hip-hop or urban culture or however you want to take it. I don't know how to define it to a large extent because people...everybody has a different opinion of what [trap] is about. So what my trap set might be to someone isn't to another person.
What's TrapZillas going to be dropping at Trapfest on Saturday? My thought process with [Saturday] is that pretty much everything that we'll be playing will be produced by people here in Phoenix. Producers like Sluggo, Lifted, Luminox, Decade, XOXO...you got so many young producers out here and I don't think people even understand the level of talent that exists here. You have a city that's put a shitload of money into the resources of education for music production and I think you're really starting to see the fruits of that as time goes on. It's gonna be nice to see the kind of talent that comes outta here.
Is your gig at Trapfest going to be a live set or pure DJing? I'll be DJing and the Logic will be performing a few songs and emceeing thoughout the set as well. It's pretty much been out method of operations.
What's your opinion of the other two artists at Trapfest, UZ and DJ Green Lantern? UZ, I think that's one of the better marketing strategies you've ever seen put in place in dance music. His music's really fucking good and he's very, very smart. He's the product of what you see what happens when good production and an agency mix together. Because his agent's the dude that manages a lot of other big names as well.
A lot of people don't realize that that's how it goes with bookings nowadays. I mean, if you look at EDC or any other of these shows its pretty much just the roster of talent agencies that are in place that are offering these deals for these places. It's gotten to the point that if you want to book a big-name act, you're gonna have to book these two or three other acts as well. And that's just how it goes.
So that's why you have a lot of manufactured talent that's pretty much come into place nowadays. I'm not against it, it's interesting to see happen, to say the least, but I think it takes away from the real organic feel to it. And there are certain kids that are ghost-producing everybody. You'd be surprised how many young kids in Phoenix produce for big name trap acts and they'll never admit to it, but for $1,000, these kids are making tracks that are going number one on Beatport.
In your opinion, it's as much about marketing as it is production? It's that world now. It's not about the quality of your production or anything else, it's how much of a grand strategy you have. I mean, me and Logic have been producing music since I was 15. People suddenly knew who the fuck we were when I created TrapZillas. And it was kind of sad with the amount of blood, sweat and tears that's gone into learning and doing all this shit, that it was like on some random fucking concept that popped off.
I think that's why we've got a little bit more respect from a lot of people as well too, because you listen to our production, you can tell that we're not just like doing some random shit. Most of our synths are analog, like we're like actually using real MPCs and the whole nine yards so there's some analog feel to our shit.
How did TrapZillas get started?
Salazar: The concept of TrapZillas started a year ago. I moved Logic out here two years ago from L.A. to focus on music. I was like, "Get your ass over here and get to work."
Logic Ali: We were already working on other shit: my shit, his shit, other shit. We weren't really thinking of a project with me and him at first. We were all over the place.
Salazar: Wait, let's be dead fucking serious. Logic was always a serious musician. I started DJing to get laid. That's the only reason. Let's not sugarcoat it. I bought a DJ system because I wanted to fuck college girls. And that's exactly what happened. And it turned into something much, much bigger. I'm not embarrassed to say all that. The whole concept of a DJ has such a weird perspective of things. It just puts you in such a highly elevated social position in a nightclub that it's ridiculous.
What's each of your roles?
Logic: I rap, I do the producing, he DJs.
Salazar: And I'm doing the business end of things. I don't let him talk...to anybody, except right now. I come up with an idea, tell him we need something like this, and bitch at him and bitch at him and bitch at him.
Logic: Then I make hot fire.
So y'all supposedly met through drug connections, right?
Logic: I was the neighborhood dope dealer, so I used to sell weed to everybody. He used to buy a lot of weed. That's how we met.
What's with all of Logic's nicknames, like Ten Pill Shawty and Pete Flipper?
Logic: Because I've got crazy personalities and I know if I try to wrap 'em all under one name people might think I'm too crazy. And I just like hip-hop and the idea of rapping as different characters is fun to me. It's like comic books.
What's your opinion on the rise of trap music?
Logic: Trap has sampled every genre, which is the exact same thing that hip-hop's been doing its whole life, so trap is just, to me, like a new version of hip-hop and people are trying to give it a different name 'cause it's so connected to EDM. And EDM's in love with giving stuff new names. It's just 808s and sampling and a bunch of synths, which is hip-hop. It's very danceable hip-hop.
So how did y'all get into trap?
Logic: We were in this house, we were rolling balls (laughs) and we were just doing beats. And I was just sampling a bunch of electro shit and hard house. I just remember [Adolfo] saying something about trap blowing up. But we were already doing that kinda shit, 'cause he's really into dance music and I'm old school hip-hop, so we've always been trying to merge that together anyways. So when the trap thing happened, we were like, "Oh shit, let's jump on the boat."
Salazar: The TrapZillas name came up in random pothead conversation, like how we needed to run with that. And within six months we had 100,000 views and everything was working out great.
What's with TrapZillas cartoon logo? And why is Logic considered evil-looking?
Salazar: He's just an evil-looking fuck. You know what it is? It's 'cause, growing up where we grew up, I have a hypersensitive reflection of how we look and people's perspective of [us]. I didn't want there to be an initial judgment. I wanted TrapZillas to be just a bunch of fucking fun and games. So with Logic looking kinda scary and me with all the gold chains, and us being Hispanic, if we didn't run it in cartoonish fashion, we're gangster rappers in people's eyes.
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Trapfest featuring UZ, TrapZillas, and Green Lantern is takes place at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 24, at Monarch Theatre. Tickets are $20.