Interviews

Kian and DUCKWRTH: a collaboration written in the stars

kian duckwrth

As a fan, it’s always an exhilarating moment when you find out that two of your favourite artists are releasing music together. This was certainly the case when Kian and Duckwrth announced their new single.

A fresh and silky blend of Duckwrth’s rhythm and cool with Kian’s air-tight flow, Quick is a shining example of why collaborations are vital to music. Who knew that a connection formed through the DMs would lead these two artists to create one of this year’s smoothest, funkiest beats?

Fresh off the release, we caught up with the duo to chat the track, their meet-cute, and their blossoming friendship.

kian duckwrth

HAPPY: Congratulations for the release of SuperGood, Duckwrth. Just want to say that first up!

DUCKWRTH: Appreciate that, definitely appreciate that, man.

HAPPY: So Kian, you’re from Castlemaine, Victoria, and Jared, you’re from South Central LA. Can you take me through how you guys came to work and collaborate with each other?

DUCKWRTH: The wonders of Instagram! [Laughs] He checked me out on YouTube, I’m not exactly sure… I think I checked out his Deezer, but yeah, we just messaged. I said “hey bro, you’re my man.” I thought he was in LA though! I don’t know why.

KIAN: Yeah, I started messaging on Instagram, not sure how, he messaged and said, “bro, come through.” I was thinking, this sounds like it’s in LA! And looked up the address and sure enough! I was like “yeah, ok! How do I get myself out there?” But I kind of knew I was always going to go. I knew it would always be a mad thing to do, that it would be a good experience, to get to the studio. Especially with Ducky, I’ve always loved his music, wanted to work with him, so I was like “fuck yeah, got to go and do this.” The fact he came to me and asked me, it was an opportunity I could not let down. So, I appreciate you letting me come jump on the album, it’s crazy! I’ve just been pumping it all last month.

HAPPY: Me too!

DUCKWRTH: I appreciate that y’all. It’s fun. I couldn’t have made this album without everybody that was there, including Kian. It’s the people that you work with that bring the best out of you, so I can’t take it all on my shoulders. You got to thank yourself Kian, for making my album amazing!

KIAN: I feel like just going there and even just seeing the writing process from your side was crazy too, the way you brought everyone together. I don’t even work with one other person one-on-one, but that fact you bring five or six people in the room and just make some magic, it’s crazy! I’ve never seen it done before so you have inspired me to create new stuff, bro!

HAPPY: So Kian, you travelled over to the states to do this collaboration?

KIAN: Yeah, I was already planning to travel there at some point to get some stuff done, but this just felt like the perfect opportunity. So I went there, jumped in with a few other people, it was a surprise trip really. I just pulled it together quickly, but it was mad! No regrets on that!

HAPPY: I know that you feature on it, but did you write the top line? Or was it precomposed situation?

KIAN: Nope, everything was written in the studio. I know Duckwrth had drums and the sample guitar, and from there we just built it up. I started singing the melody in the studio, and Duckwrth was like, “yeah, what was that?” Everyone got in a circle, he was clicking his fingers saying this one’s for the girls. I got a video of it too! Duckwrth and I were sitting there singing it really shit, everyone bobbing round. From there, I sang some random shit and the lyrics came together. Duckwrth’s verse really brought the song to life. When he was writing it, I was sitting there acting like I wasn’t totally shocked about what he was writing. I was in the zone, he had a little page and he would cross out a word: I was wondering, why did he cross that out?

DUCKWRTH: That’s funny, man.

kian duckwrth
Photo: Maclay Heriot

HAPPY: Do you think that the writing process, like when you have five people in the room, do you think that process actually makes you perform because you are on the spot, in a fight or flight mode, and you can either run-away, or you can do something incredible?

DUCKWRTH: It depends, I still write a lot of my rap parts. But if I allocate it in my head and I have subject matter, I say a line out: you say another line, we just go back and forth and formulate stuff. Sometimes that way is just more fun, not so much pressure. If someone was writing all my bars that may be different, but if we are all just in the studio having fun, and I’ve got the main theme, and we are going back joking and shit, it’s just fun!

KIAN: People were playing shit on your music rather than writing your lyrics. That’s mad because creatives can come in, adding their own bit.

DUCKWRTH: Exactly!

HAPPY: Ducky, with this record, as opposed to the EP in 2019, you’ve gone with this kind of East Coast, chilled funky guitar, smooth bass lines. Can you tell me a little bit about the direction for this?

DUCKWRTH: Well, from the story side of it, the last part, the fundamental side was the demise of this character because they didn’t know how to open up and love, you know? So that led to their demise. Well, this project was about if that character had been able to open up and love all the benefits. This character is deeply in love with this woman and, throughout the album, you hear his different insecurities and different fantasies, all these different perspectives he has, not just of this woman but of the specific night they are about to have. So, give me the question again?

HAPPY: Where you went with that is super interesting. So you explored this record from a character’s perspective, about a character falling in love, and that’s the through-line for this album?

DUCKWRTH: Yep, because I wanted to have the two parts. I wanted yin and yang. Fallen man is harder, the colours red, black, white, very straightforward, whereas the colours for this project are much more fluid, like orange, purple, and a mustard yellow. So it’s more in the realms of joy, and peace and six-o’clock, seven-o’clock magic hour. For THE FALLING MAN, it was more punky, hard bass, and blaring vocals, where this one is groovier, soulful stuff, RnB Gospel, the vocals are a softer tone. So, playing with those two different juxtapositions.

HAPPY: And it does have that hazy feel? Driving your car at nighttime through the streets, it’s got a good vibe. I know that you have collaborated in the past with Tkay Maidza, Golden Vessel, do you keep your eye on the Australian music scene?

DUCKWRTH: I think the Australian music scene keeps its eye on me because it passes by me when it does. I hear those artists I really like and I find out after that they are Australian, that’s cool, you know? But, I don’t have my eye on a specific scene. I just like good music. But a lot of good music comes from Australia, so it just works out that way.

HAPPY: Have you got any plans to do any touring together guys?

DUCKWRTH: Hey, that would be lit! If I do an Aussie tour you are coming!

KIAN: That would be mad, I would start singing don’t get me started.

kian duckwrth

DUCKWRTH: It would make all the sense in the world! I’m sure, after COVID, we are definitely going to be doing an Aussie tour.

KIAN: When people can start doing that again. Wow, that’s not even a conversation right now!

DUCKWRTH: I know, but we will eventually!

KIAN: I’m in!

DUCKWRTH: I feel good.

HAPPY: Kian, tell me about your direction and where you are going?

KIAN: In terms of my direction, when I came to the music industry, I was very young. I wrote my first song when I was 14 and that song was my first song out.

HAPPY: Is that the one you won Triple J Unearthed with?

KIAN: Yeah! So scratch everything, that was my first song. So being 14 then, compared to now when I am 18, my perception about life and music are drastically different. I think, for me, the challenge has been showing people my growth as a person and an artist. I think with the new stuff coming out I am a lot more into the sound, it’s a lot better reflection of myself and I feel real happy. Probably going to drop another track this year.

HAPPY: Cool!

KIAN: I have a video coming up, so it’s just going to be crazy!

HAPPY: That is crazy! Ducky, speaking of videos, you are involved in your own visual aesthetics, can you tell me about that? 

DUCKWRTH: Overall, I am an artist and creative. It is just that I chose the title of music. But, for me, if I wasn’t doing this, I would be doing visual design. So, being able to tell a story from the video perspective makes sense to me. I’m a full on creative, so it just goes hand in hand and it feels awkward when I’m not involved in it. I’m also a Double Taurus, so very much controlling, but it just makes me happy, satisfies me! Everybody has their thing, mine is starting something from scratch creatively and watching it become fully realised and manifest, then to look at it after, it’s like wow, fuck, it exists! I think that’s a big part of it.

HAPPY: In terms of SuperGood, what were the things influencing you at that time that brought about the whole world of SuperGood?

DUCKWRTH: SuperGood is a concept I have had since about 2013, and it was always supposed to be like a positive affirmation. When you say the words SuperGood, it already exists as something positive. You can’t be in a negative space and feel SuperGood! I was in a negative space for so long and I couldn’t be super-good and found a place where I felt good to make SuperGood!

duckwrth

HAPPY: So the process of creation was actually cathartic? We find ourselves in a difficult place right now, you guys are incredible writers but you can’t tour, and everything has been put on hold. Would you say this work has come out of a place of frustration, a way to move forward and step into a brighter place?

DUCKWRTH: Luckily, I was able to make it before COVID hit super crazy, so it was very serendipitous that it came out at this time, when people needed a positive affirmation more than ever. That’s how things work out in my life, everything has to be the correct timing. Align yourself to be open to the universe and how it works and flows. But yeah, it gave me one month to make this album! Pretty much all in January, everything except two songs were made in one month and then pretty much the whole world went to shit! 

KIAN: I remember too, it was towards the end of my trip in LA, I was about to leave and my Dad called me. He’s like, “there’s a pandemic on, come home.” I’m like, “I’m coming!”

HAPPY: Hang on, I’m hanging out with Ducky!

KIAN: I remember, someone came and dropped a mask off for me before I went to the airport. I didn’t have one because everyone had sold out, no masks anywhere. That was so stressful man, I thought everyone was about to die.

HAPPY: I can imagine it would have felt like you were at the beginning of Twelve Monkeys or something, one of those terrible dystopian horror movies when that all hit.

DUCKWRTH: It definitely was different! Not used to that one, everybody started hoarding super hard, all the tissues, bottled water…

KIAN: Toilet paper!

DUCKWRTH: No toilet paper! People cannot wipe their arses! That’s a dystopia, when people can’t even wipe their arses! That’s the end, bro.

HAPPY: Kian, before we wrap it up, give us a little bit of a sneak peak about what’s coming up next and what music we can expect to see from you in the coming months?

KIAN: There’s the single dropping in the next few months and the video will be filmed. Everything’s coming together on that. I think, ultimately, there won’t be a project till next year. For me, it doesn’t make sense. I’m not in the right place right now to do that. I feel like the world is a bit too hectic. If I want to put out another project, I want to do it the best I can. Right now, it’s not a possibility. I can’t do everything I want to do.

duckwrth

HAPPY: Also, not being able to step up and perform it live as well… you can get everything in the bag now but you would want to wait until you can get up on stage and perform these great songs.

KIAN: 100%. I’m going to be taking the next few months just to get ready. I’ll be in the studios going hard trying to get stuff done. It’s hard, the years go by so fast. If I drop off my project it will just disappear. This year was like a waste year where I don’t even know what happened…

HAPPY: Having said that, the amazing thing about this year is that it is introspective and we are still listening to music. It gives us more time to absorb, more time to really, really appreciate the songwriting – which is what brought you both together. Tell me, are there any plans to collaborate again?

KIAN: I’m sure.

DUCKWRTH: Definitely, whenever the stars align again, and I’m sure they will, if we ain’t beefing then it’s good.


KIAN: I don’t ever want to be beefing with anyone.

DUCKWRTH: Definitely good to make some new shit, I’m with it.

HAPPY: Guys. I am loving this collaboration, and I go hope the stars align again. Kian and Ducky, thanks so much for joining me today.

KIAN: Thanks so much man!

DUCKWRTH: Thanks! Kian I’m excited for your new shit!

KIAN: I’m excited for yours!

 

Check out Duckwrth and Kian’s collaboration, Quick, here