With the dust still settling on last month’s UNDERGRND tour featuring UZ and Montell2099 crisscrossing across the United States and Canada, we thought it was the right time to lock down the crew for a proper head-to-head chat on all things that go boom in the night.
While the Quality Goods Records boss and all-around trap don known as UZ continues to crush on all fronts, the forward-leaning minimalist sound of Montell2099 continues to make big moves as well. With support pouring in from the likes of Alison Wonderland, Boombox Cartel, 21 Savage, and Mura Masa, the 21-year-old producer has made a name for himself not only with his original cuts but also with his remixes of Diplo and Lorde. Still, it was his collaboration with UZ on the neck-brace thriller known as “UNDERGRND” that not only helped propel him into the spotlight once again but paved the way for the eponymous tour that he would go on in support of UZ.
Now that the two have properly bonded after a month on the road, we figured we’d let the pair interview each other in an epic in-depth Q&A that is sure to inspire and educate. Before you check the beats and the head-to-head Q&A below, be sure to cop your copy of “UNDRGRND” here and keep your eyes and ears peeled for more from these two trap kings.
Montell2099: How did you come up with the idea of your mask?
UZ: Since I was uploading music anonymously online, we decided to play shows anonymously too and that I was going to wear a mask on stage. Ralis Kahn (who designed Slipknot’s masks) was living in the same building so we asked him to design a mask for us. He quickly gave us two options and we opted for the golden one. How did you come up with your name? It sounds like it comes from a sci-fi movie like Blade Runner.
Montell2099: I had many [artist] names before this one. I would change it regularly on SoundCloud. Me and my friend were talking about how it can be hard to find people sometimes because their name isn’t original enough. I used to just be Montell but there’s a thousand other Montell’s that come up when you search it. He told me to come up with a name that’s unique to you so it’s easy to find. He said why not your name and a random number? So, I just came up with Montell2099. I haven’t changed it since! What’s been your favorite show on the tour?
UZ: The Seattle show was the best so far. I was a bit worried as the show was moved to another location at the last minute but the new venue ended up being really cool. The sound system was banging and it had LED walls everywhere (even on the ceiling) so my visual show came out amazing. The crowd was wild too so it was definitely one of the best so far! How long have you been producing and DJing? Which one do you like the most?
Montell2099: I’m definitely a producer first; I’ve been producing for about seven years now. My grandfather introduced me to FL Studio when I was about 14. I didn’t know how to DJ until I moved to Auckland which was about three years ago. I studied at a music school in Auckland called Mainz. I learned a lot about DJing and also got much better at producing in a short amount of time. Even though I love making music I do like seeing people’s reaction to something I’ve made, makes it feel worth it. What city do you like visiting and why?
UZ: As you know, when you play shows all over the world, surprisingly you don’t get to see much of it besides of the airport, the hotel or the venue. On a day off or holidays I would say Paris for the history, the architecture, the food, etc. And I have to say that last time I went to Honolulu I really enjoyed the beach. Speaking of traveling, you live in New Zealand, which is a beautiful country with awesome people. Do you feel separated from the rest of the world since it’s really far?
Montell2099: I think the internet has helped bridge the gap. I definitely like living in New Zealand a lot. I’m used to the vibe, the weather, all my friends and family are here and the music scene is really strong. I get really inspired traveling, though, I don’t make much music but I always make a lot when I get back home. What song or songs do you enjoy playing out in your sets?
UZ: I’m trying not to play what other DJs are playing. I’m trying to educate the crowd to listen to different stuff. I would play a Waka Flocka anthem and then go the most obscure unreleased trap beats, I think that’s how you do it. Since I have my label Quality Goods Records I really enjoy playing all the unreleased tracks to see how people react. There’s a track that I really love playing right now, which is a TYNAN & Thook collab. People are going crazy every time I drop it.
UZ: How exactly did the 21 Savage collab happen last year? Was that a great experience meeting him?
Montell2099: It came about through Red Bull SoundSelect. I got called up to the Red Bull headquarters in Auckland and was asked if I wanted to be a part of a collaboration project. They asked me who were some artists I’d like to collaborate with and one of the names I put down was 21 Savage. They said there were no guarantees that the project would happen so I never really got my hopes up. Then about a month later I was in a studio in LA making a song with him. It was my first session with another artist outside of making music with my friends. It was dope meeting him in person. He invited my manager and I to his show in New York the next day and we got to hang out with him and his crew backstage. It was a dope experience! Speaking of dope experiences, what city has the best food?
UZ: If you want good meat, cheese and wine, you know France is the best answer. Every city has its own specialties but I feel like Paris is a great start. I became pescatarian a while ago and I have to say LA has the most options I have ever seen anywhere else. LA also has my all-time favorite vegan Ramen place which is called Ramen Hood, it’s the bomb! What’s the food that you absolutely cannot put in your mouth? I can’t eat marmite/vegemite, for example; it just tastes gross.
Montell2099: Yes, I’m the same. I’ve never liked marmite/vegemite. Also, I’m not a big fan of spice, it’s always funny to me because my friends always get spicy food because they “love” it, then half way into eating they complain about how spicy it is. So no spice for me. What about sneakers? What’s your favorite sneaker or sneakers of all time?
UZ: Everyone that knows me knows I’m sneaker head. I’ve always been, it’s just in me. When I was younger I was into Jordans, collected all the III and IVs, which was a very expensive hobby. I sold them all when I got older and then I was more into Air Max and Nike Air stuff. Right now I would say I’m more into Adidas than any other brand but some of the last shoes I recently bought are Yung-1 (the orange and the white ones), Futurecraft 4d, Yeezy Waverunners…all from Adidas. An all-time favorite would still be an Air Max One OG colorway. Before we go, I know you are a big Fortnite fan. Is it true that you spend all your free time watching Fortnite streams?
Montell2099: [Laughs] Yes, when I’m not making music or playing shows I’m either playing Fortnite or watching Fortnite streams so if you’re a fan and you play as well, look out!