There are few German rappers working today as iconic as Ufo361. One of the first major figures in the German trap music world, Ufo361 (real name Ufuk Bayraktar) has since developed a global fanbase, working with rappers and producers from America and beyond to create a new world of sound. Following the release of his latest album, STAY HIGH — a project that saw the rapper exploring darker and more vulnerable places than ever before — Schön! sat down with Ufo361 for a chat about his work, fashion, what’s coming next for him and more.
You spent about seven weeks in Los Angeles last year hanging out with American rappers. What would you say you gained from this experience?
I was in the studio with many big producers from the trap scene in the last few years — Southside, Murda Beatz or Ronny J, among others. I got a different feeling on how to work on music in general.
So how does working with American rappers and producers differ from working with German ones?
The biggest difference would be that most of the Germans have a very strict work regiment, and they prepare a lot of things before the session even starts. In the States, the vibe is more important and everything happens very spontaneously.
How did your time in LA influence the making of STAY HIGH?
It didn’t influence only my last project. I’ve visited L.A. very often in the last few years and picked up a lot of influences that shaped at least five of my last projects, starting with the album 808.
STAY HIGH feels darker than previous projects. What was going through your mind during the making of this album?
I wanted to make the most non-commercial album of my career. No hits, no catchy hooks, just straight up Trap. Something that has never been done in Germany before. No compromises and a very dark undertone. What I had in mind in making this album mostly was the last 10 years of my career.
How has it been to see the fans react to STAY HIGH, especially as your music travels further around the globe?
The response of the fans was all in all very good. Some of them have been waiting to hear my darker side again. Of course, through social media posts from Lil Uzi and other rappers that I worked with internationally, there is a broader international audience. I mostly recognize this through the comments. I’m very pleased to get positive feedback throughout the world and to see that I can touch people in different countries with my music and art.
Before you came up, how did you develop your fashion sense? Were there any figures you looked to in particular for inspiration?
I was always very into fashion; even when I was still attending school I was always aware of what I am wearing. I think the biggest inspiration during that time was 2Pac and Versace. That was the first time that I realised that fashion and music can go hand in hand without being too much of a contradiction. I try to do the same, now that I have the opportunities to work with big names and brands in the fashion industry.
How has your relationship with powerful fashion houses like CHANEL evolved as you’ve become more famous and well-versed in fashion?
I was always a big CHANEL fan. Since my Rich Rich Album, for example, I have had a huge bag collection, which is represented heavily in the videos for the album. This also helped to establish more feminine handbags in the German rap scene, and I was able to break another taboo.
As someone who loves a warm croissant, what makes a croissant ‘good’?
Croissants filled with pistachio crème, croissants covered in chocolate, etc., but of course also hearty croissants with goat cheese or something. Maybe there’s an Ufo361 croissant coming soon.
What’s the first album you fell in love with, from the first song to the final track? Why do you think it stuck with you?
Michael Jackson – Dangerous. My big brother had the Collector’s Edition, which came with four golden CDs. I listened to his album every day for about two years. It went so far that I performed Michael Jackson songs in school during talent shows. Every song on that album was phenomenal. The production, the lyrics, the singing. That impressed me heavily, ever since my childhood.
Who is someone you’d like to work with soon and why?
Regarding fashion, my dream would be Raf Simons. I’m a huge fan of all of his old collections, and that is something that I also collect privately. Or Rick Owens, who is changing the game right now in my opinion. If we are talking music: Kanye West or Young Thug. Both of them are legends in my book.
What’s been inspiring you lately?
The collaboration with Maria Koch for my Favourite Artist video, and also future projects with her. Very inspiring ideas and approaches to creative work.
What’s next for Ufo361?
September 3rd — Destroy All Copies. We are finishing up the last music videos with Max von Gumppenberg. Apart from that, I want to focus more on fashion than ever before. My brand “No Hugs” or our “Stay High” Merchandise, which we already established as more than merch, will be my main focus after this album.