Photo by Ural Garrett for Okayplayer.
First Look Friday: Don't Blame Watch the Duck For Being Awesome
Debates rage on-and-offline as music lovers argue about which region of the country produces the best music. For some New York City will always be the trophy-holder, while radio and other audiophiles love any-and-everything below the Mason-Dixon line. In our case, we appreciate it all as good sounds are good sounds eternally welcomed here at Okayplayer.
Watch the Duck, this week's First Look Friday subject, are a talented musical trio from Montgomery, Alabama who have dominated the trapstep movement, which, for those who don't know is a cross between trap and dubstep. Jesse Rankins (the Voice), Eddie Smith II (the Sound) and Oscar White (the Duck) are the forces behind hits such as "Stretch-2-3-4" with Pharrell Williams and "Don't Blame Luv" featuring T.I.
With The Trojan Horse out now and the masses eating it up, the Watch the Duck crew has woven soulful hooks with high-energy production to stand out amongst the heavily crowded music industry. And as names like Zane Lowe, Fader, VIBE and Beats 1 all support this group, this country-fried trio continues to boast of their dedication to their Alabama roots, their dreams of working with Prince and how "Don't Blame Luv" was inspired by matters of the heart in this exclusive chat with Okayplayer.
Be sure to also listen to the premiere "Making Luv To The Beat" (Remix) featuring R3LL + Watch the Duck below!
Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you guys are making an impact on both sides of the country. What is it that Alabama has seen and experienced that the world is just now discovering?
Watch the Duck: The thing that people have witnessed and experienced are how to create a good time anywhere at anytime. In Alabama, a party can happen at any given moment, which for us is like an open invite to a memorable experience. The first parties that we ever attended didn't have VIP sections and you didn't need expensive bottles, jewelry or clothes to be able to go out and have fun.
The world is starting to re-discover that again in a major way. That unnecessary social pressure of being the top dog has been removed, so people are now free more than ever to be creative. You're starting to see it if you're out and listening to music now, as more and more unique and interesting personalities are emerging onto the scene again.
OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are the group’s most cherished influences in music and why?
WtD: Prince. Watching what the Purple One was able to do musically, with his visuals and how he's been able to constantly re-create himself while evolving music and not be constrained by what other people want is amazingly inspiring. He's a badass musician able to create what moves him and really shreds! Steve Jobs is another inspiration, too, as his unwillingness to compromise and his commitment to innovating great items of art really has inspired us.
OKP: Your song, “Stretch 2-3-4,” is super funky and is paired with some clever wordplay. It has placed you all on the radar of music snobs who have a heavy presence in the music industry. Can you talk about how life was for the team while developing as artists in Montgomery, Alabama? How did you all react to the first bits of press?
WtD: Developing as artists in Montgomery, Alabama really solidified our whole do-it-yourself mentality. While working on music and growing up there, the actual industry always felt like it was out-of-town somewhere in Atlanta, New York City or Los Angeles. At no time did we ever feel like, "Oh, a record label can come along and do this-and-this for us," but we did feel like if we wanted to see something happen the we needed to go out and do it.
It is that feeling that serves as motivation for us today. We've learned how to work within the industry while never relying on waiting for it to take notice. The first bit of press was shocking, to be honest, as we didn't really think that "gatekeepers" or "tastemakers" were checking for us. Fortunately for us, we were wrong, as they were looking at us while we were on the ground floor, which shocked us in a good way.
OKP: Can you all talk about the importance of the music industry scene in Montgomery? Do y’all feel that by leaving you all have evolved the scene? If so, how do you all see it developing in the next few years?
WtD: On the real, yo, we've been gone so long that I don't think it is fair for us to comment on the scene in Montgomery and where it is now because our info is outdated. There's so much talent there, though, and we like to believe that by us leaving it has helped to evolve the scene because everywhere we go, we represent Alabama.
Truth be told, the shock on people's faces when they hear our music and then find out that we're from Alabama is priceless. Plus, it is supremely cool that young people from Alabama are witnessing our journey and seeing us play these festivals around the world. It gives them the inspiration to work hard, cultivate their own sound and make their own dreams possible.
OKP: What are some elements that you guys learned about yourself that comes out in the music?
WtD: What we've learned is that we as a group have an insatiable need to evolve things. Whether it is our dress, our sound or even our personal selves — we appreciate growth in many ways. We also learned that we love unpredictability, even though we complain about it [laughs]. With our music, we love creating parts where someone will be in the studio with us and say, "Damn, I didn't see that coming." It is our own personal mark of success.
OKP: What was the first song that you guys ever wrote together? Can you all talk about what it was about?
WtD: [Laughs] It was a song called "Southern Girls," and we created it because we share a common ground and fondness for women. We're still writing about them till this day!
OKP: How can Watch the Duck’s music speak truth to power in an age where people are so quickly digesting sounds and disposing of artists in a nanosecond?
WtD: Our music has the ability to transcend into another realm outside of music. It represents a lifestyle and we hope that when people hear our music that they hear a completely creative and unapologetically free sound that encourages all to love what they love.
OKP: Collaboration is uniquely a key to the success of certain creative individuals who wish to change the game. Who would you all want to work with in 2016 and why?
WtD: We would love to work with Lionel Ritchie, Prince, OutKast and The Smiths because they are all huge, game-changing personalities that represented a free, creative lifestyle. It is reflective within our sound and we feel that a collaboration of such magnitude would be insane. If we accomplished that, we wouldn't have to make anything else [laughs].
OKP: What is it about the team’s style and sound that have made such an impact in the music business?
WtD: People can literally hear the evolution in our music. If you tune in closely, you can hear the lines between different genres dissolving in the background. It is with those attributes that we shall continue to impact the music business.
OKP: What is the overall message that Watch the Duck is trying to present in y’all’s music?
WtD: Simply put, we're here to tell you all to push yourself and challenge yourself to better than you were the day, the hour, the second before.
OKP: Can you break down the inspiration behind “Don’t Blame Luv”...? Could you all speak on the creation, production and the song’s lyrics?
WtD: [Laughs] The song, "Don't Blame Luv," was inspired by those moments when your significant other is questioning the hell out of everything and everybody around you. She knows in her heart that you love her, but she just wants to hear you say it... so you say it in a strong and manly way that not only answers her questions, but also slightly turns her on.
OKP: How do you all see Watch the Duck changing the music industry for the better versus all of the bad stuff that goes on within it?
WtD: Hopefully, we're able to inspire others to play with musical experimentation. Not just in the studio creatively, but also in the marketing and promotional plans as well.
OKP: If the reader’s learned one thing from this First Look Friday chat with Watch the Duck — what would it be?
WtD: [Laughs] It would be to "be free, evolve and get lost in it," whatever that it may be is up to you!