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‘A Jambalaya of Different Sounds’: Duckwrth returns to Michigan to open for Billie Eilish

Months removed from a low energy stop in Lansing, Duckwrth turns his attentions toward a bigger stage

February 16, 2022
<p>DUCKWRTH performs at Common Ground on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.</p>

DUCKWRTH performs at Common Ground on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.

Photo by Devin Anderson-Torrez | The State News

The set was over. A bow to the crowd gave them one last look at his Pantone 184 C dyed hair and he walked off stage, quietly heading back into the entrails of Jackson Field in Lansing, Michigan, normally home to the Lansing Lugnuts when it doesn’t play host to concerts like Common Ground or extreme sports.

Duckwrth made his way back to the locker room. 

After his set he picked at some lukewarm wings; they’d been cold before and they’d be cold again, he told the State News. It was the life he had become accustomed to. At the time, Duckwrth had just released his album "SG8*," the "SG" of course a continuation of his 2020 album "SuperGood." After a year of a few pre-recorded concerts in 2020, he came back to sold out dates on his headline tour.

He has been classified as an R&B and Soul artist, but has blended these sounds into a subgenre of his own. Something he thinks people aren’t always ready for.

Common Ground, on Sept. 11, 2021 included Tee Grizzley, who followed his act and G-Eazy who was the headliner. In his opinion, the night had been stiff– nothing is worse than a stiff show.

“I feel like these people were ready for a specific type of mu–,” Duckwrth was interrupted by the deep rambling of speakers – Tee Grizzley had started his set, Duckwrth cleared his throat “A specific type of sound and s–– like that. … I’ve found this at these type of shows they’re not always ready for something that’s a little bit left.”

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As Duckwrth talked the sounds of Tee Grizzley’s set bellowed. From the locker room all that could be heard was a constant thump of the bass, but on the diamond the crowd was going bar for bar with the rapper. Grizzley – a Detroit native and former Michigan State student – was a fan favorite at the festival. It was the sound they were looking for. 

Duckwrth coped with the stiff show comedically; his spirit up. It came with the business.

“But once again that s–– happens, I’ve been performing for a while and sometimes you get that show and you just have to like roll with the punches,” he said.

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‘A Jambalaya of Different Sounds’

From a musical family, Duckwrth got his start in choir, but it wasn’t until 2016 that he ‘locked in’ on his sound and dropped his first tape.

“It’'s groovy s–– it’s s–– you dance to, s–– you jump to,” Duckwrth said, “It’s electric.”

“It’s not staying in the same mold, it’s breaking it," he said. “Sometimes it can be sexy, sometimes it can be introspective, sometimes you just want to jump and s–– it just depends. I think it’s a jambalaya of different sounds. It’s very hard to describe it.”

As a creative, Duckwrth has found passions in graphic design and garments; both acting as another extension and outlet for himself. 

“A lot of stuff you see graphically I’m designing it, or the merch or the garments that I make, anything that you see coming from me, I’m designing it,” Duckwrth said.

Even the pants he performed in– he designed himself.

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So what then is Duckwrth’s sound? A Sunday Service led by OutKast, N.E.R.D., Three 6 Mafia and Snoop Dogg… Or something like that.

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“I make music for myself and invite people in just like any other artist does,” Duckwrth said.

He pulls inspiration from his favorites, the music he came up with. Along with the hip-hop greats, he listened to house music and gospel. His sound, his music is a byproduct of himself.

“A lot of the music I came up with just found its way naturally into the music that I make,” Duckwrth said, “It’s based in rap and hip-hop for sure, but it goes where it wants to go. Overall, I think I just make groovy a–– music. So you catch it, and you feel it. It’s just something you dance to and it’s something you have fun with. It’s just fun a–– music.”

Fun music for Duckwrth is when he gets to experiment the most. Songs like "Mask Off," "Slow Motion," "Too Bad," "Kiss You Right Now" and "Say What You Mean" being just a few on the list. Songs Duckwrth describes as ‘colorful,’ reflective of his character as if the ever-changing hair didn’t explain that itself.

“I would say my energy is colorful for sure,” Duckwrth said, “I’m a creative so I feel like creatives really just dive into themselves and pull from a lot of places and a lot of different energy.”

A Bigger Show

After years of constant progress since 2016 he, along with the rest of the world, were put to a halt as the pandemic progressed itself. So, without shows, Duckwrth worked to get his mind right. 

“I think it was important for us to slow down and see things how they are,” Duckwrth said. “All the grime and gunk that’s been in the subconscious and playing in the background is coming to the surface to deal with that s–– so I think that’s what I dealt with last year and I’m sure everybody else did. It’s a very mutual feeling that everyone else had.”

In 2021 Duckwrth toured the United States. In 2022 he will tour Europe.

Ultimately his stiff show, cold wings and stop in Lansing, Michigan was just one of many — though the first stiff one, he said. But as the tour dates flew off pages somewhere months in the future inside Duckwrth’s mind, he made sure to save room to take care of it.

“Just reflecting ... and seeing where I want to go next,” he said as he prepared to leave the venue.

“And then we’re opening for Billie Eilish in March. And that’s going to be a crazy, crazy show so just getting my mind ready for that s––. ... For arena shows, the people in the nosebleeds far away from you have to feel like the people who are in front of you which is the 500-1,000. Everyone has to feel like they are on an equal level, so you have to be attentive to everyone ... just have to get your mind right. You kind of got to go into Olympic mode, Freddie Mercury mode and s–– that’s what I think is gonna go into that one.”

So in Olympic — Freddie Mercury mode, months removed from a low energy stop in Lansing, Duckwrth turns his attentions toward a bigger stage, bigger crowd and bigger show when he will open for Billie Eilish on March 12, 2022 in her "Happier Than Ever" world tour.

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