Q&A: DUCK SAUCE | DJMag.com Skip to main content

Q&A: DUCK SAUCE

Duck Sauce is the New York based duo of A-Trak, head of Fool's Gold Records, and Armand Van Helden

Duck Sauce is the New York based duo of A-Trak, head of Fool's Gold Records, and Armand Van Helden, whose twenty plus year career has produced countless hits. Together they've had successes such as 'aNYway' and 'Barbra Streisand'. Their latest single, 'It's You', a taster of a forthcoming album, features a video of the pair working in a barber shop. A free '?@#! remix' of the single, done by an anonymous artist, was given away via Craigslist. We quizzed A-Trak on what else the ?@#! he's been up to...

Have you ever used Craigslist for anything else? It's infamous for being a place to hook up.
“I only know it for looking for apartments. It's very widespread, especially in city's like New York. That's where people put up listings. Then, by extension, it become a place for other listings...”

The single has a very cool video. Barber shops, as opposed to hair dressers, are making a comeback. Do you have one person that does your hair?
“Oh yeah, absolutely. I have a barber in New York. He's the only guy who cuts my hair. Usually I get my hair cut really often, once a week, at the most once every other week. If I'm on tour, then it become problematic. The only city I have a number for a barber in case of emergency is London. For the most part when I'm on tour I just wait till I get back to New York and have a little pit stop between travels, then I catch up with my apartment, my record label and my hair! My barber shop is in the Lower East Side.”

Your Duck Sauce releases are rare but always on point. How often do you and Armand meet up and when do you decide that a new track is the one?
“Armand and I meet up regularly when I'm in town. At this point I tour more than him because he's kind of slowed down. When I come back we hang out, not always to make music. When we feel like it, we make some tracks. We tend to make them in bunches, in spurts. When there's a couple of samples that are on deck just accumulating, then we kind of sit down. You can never really know which is the one, the songs like 'Barbra Streisand' that did particularly well, we didn't anticipate that they'd do that well. It's more a question of us making songs that we feel good about, and that make us laugh, and that we feel like would be a good addition to whatever is going on in the cosmos and the universe.

“A lot of what we do is a reaction to what's going on in the rest of the world, even a reaction to other songs we've done before. Duck Sauce is not the kind of project to follow up a single with a similar single. When we did 'Big Bad Wolf' a lot of people were surprised. A lot of the mainstream 'Barbra Streisand' fans probably hated that because it was a dark, Chicago house track. What ties the songs together is a similar kind of spirit, there's always a playfulness to our tracks and a simplicity.”

Can you tell us about the album?
“Like I mentioned, what ties the songs together is the mood. Each song is a world unto itself. We're always looking for these really quirky samples, so when we find them we build each song out. It's almost like a level in a video game, now we're underwater, you know? There are twelve songs, so we didn't want to do the same thing the whole way through. There are some surprises, I'm scratching on the record. There are a lot of interludes and pranks between the songs, so it's really tied together as this whole experience of Duck Sauce, with our jokes and our references. It's important to craft an album that you have to sit down and listen to as a whole from beginning to end, because we feel that's the only way to do an album now. If consumers are drawn to buying individual tracks, we have to give them a reason to buy the whole thing and listen to the whole thing.

“We're very proud of our record digging heritage, the fact that we use samples. There's a lot of history there. Duck Sauce is very rooted in New York and classic New York b-boy mentality and we feel a strong kinship to a lot of '90s rap groups, more so than to most house and electronic groups. We've very close to the Beastie Boys, and even a group like the Beatnuts. Whatever groups are known for digging the best samples, those are very strong influences for us. More so than whatever is in the Beatport Top Ten.”

Aside from duck sauce, what's your favorite condiment?
“I'd say ketchup, because I respect the classics.”

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