Interview: 5 minutes with DRUGZZ
Born from the slums of Tennessee’s upscale suburbia, Sam Krager aka DRUGZZ began his childhood without much of a chance. Coming from a loving family of 6, he always felt insufficient and looked over. He became depressed early on in life because his three brothers always kicked his ass on Xbox. Ultimately getting the best of himself, Sam never learned that life was meant to be enjoyed, thus leading him to live vicariously through the artist known as DRUGZZ: “I spent the last 6 years of my life starting and running a fresh salsa company called Uncle Kragers. I was working 70 hours in a kitchen chopping fucking cilantro while all my friends were outside going on vacations and playing sold out shows. Our company did very well, but I ended up hating my life. Inspiration comes in many ways – sometimes through cilantro stained hands.” he says.
A collector of vintage drum gear, DRUGZZ is inspired by rhythm, and sitting at a drum set is crucial for his writing process. Using an old Rogers drum set to make samples for the record, adding in the swirling synth sounds of the innovative Moog Sub Phatty. Citing influences such as Blink-182, The Chemical Brothers, Lupe Fiasco, Copeland, The National, Death Cab for Cutie, to name a few, DRUGZZ blends elements of electronica, future-bass, EDM, pop-punk and indie, and has created a mind-melting signature style completely of his own. DRUGZZ’ debut single will be released on March 2nd via Super Serious.
We caught up with DRUGZZ on paying the bills and bringing the heat:
(Be sure to stream the latest single by DRUGGZ titled ‘Someone Other Than Me’ below!)
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
This project is special to me and you could say that it’s my first child. The arts and music specifically have been some of the only ways I have learned to genuinely express myself. I grew up mainly playing drums, so as a crazy kid with too much energy, it came naturally to me, to sit down at my drum kit and express myself the only way I knew how – and that was by beating the shit out of my drums for a few hours. haha! Thanks mom! So now I just try and capture those early experiences and bring them in a new forms to my friends and fans.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
It really depends on the song. I get inspired many different ways when it comes to the writing process. There have been times when I have literally heard a sound in my dreams, and other times when I’ll have a experience that leads to an idea that I eventually roll with that.
What’s on your current playlist?
So it’s funny – I had never really listened to electronic music/edm/whatever-you-want-to-call-it until a few years ago. Initially I was introduced to the more pop stuff, then I heard The Chemical Brothers and my mind was blown.
Here is a mix of a few artist I’m jamming currently:
Y.V.E. 48, Tennyson, Autograf, Sam Feldt, Blink-182, Syn Cole.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
Honestly, it’s been a long time since I have played a live show that was based on original content I created. I’ve worked really hard and I have anticipated my live shows for so long, that I believe the experience my fans and I will have together will be nothing short of a fucking good time.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
All my tracks are actually very personal songs. I’ll do whatever I can to find the sound or beat that best fits with the emotion I’m trying to capture. And trust me, it’s not that glamorous, it usually looks like me and the homies turning over 300 rocks till we find that one gem. Ya know? Ha!
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
I was living in Knoxville, Tennessee at the time when we wrote most of 5:AM, but I was commuting over to Nashville to work with my producer Cole Johnson 1 or 2 times a month. All our tracks are so different, so it would usually take a second to get our gears going. The first few days on a track we spend getting the structure of the song down with some rough vocal takes. From there we really dig in to each part until we feel like we have found the “magic, magic, magic.”
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
Not really, I want to do a lot of different things in life. But I can say, as a child I remember moments when I was either playing music or attending live shows, where everything stopped in my head and I was able to just truly breathe.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
Oh, definitely water and my friends. These two things help balance me the most, and bring the crazy out of me at the same time. It’s weird.
Any emerging artists on your radar?
I’ve really been into a brother DJ duo out of Berlin called Y.V.E. 48. I met those guys last year and they are definitely the real deal. Check em out.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
I really don’t know. It depends on the day. Maybe I’ll get more words and write a book about it one day. AY!
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
Personally, I mainly collect and play vintage drum gear. Writing this record using the Moog Sub Phatty was big for us. The first part I wrote for 5:AM was the weird synth bassline that comes in at the first drop in our song ‘Black Shadows’. I use Ableton mainly for live purposes and early songwriting. It’s going to be fun to see how all of that plays into our live shows. We have some surprises for you – and no, they’re not drugs. Haha!
Any side projects you’re working on?
If I’m working on a side project, it’s usually just me working on some random odd job to help pay for my musical adventures. I built a back deck for a sweet couple a few months back… Oh ya, and I installed a hot tub for my friend. So yeah, if you need any general sub-contracting done – holla at ya boy!
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
I’m always learning new things and trying to prioritize my life around becoming a better person with the new things I’ve learned.
Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
I’ll throw a little breakdown at you:
Really, all you need to do is get to our live show and this whole DRUGZZ thing will make sense to you! I’ve waited a long time for 2018. I’m going to bring the heat. Bring your mittens! Much love, Sam.
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