A few weeks ago the MMIBTY team headed to Chicago’s Montrose Beach to cover the second year of Wavefront Music Festival. During that time we were fortunate enough to catch TJR‘s solo main stage set (my first time seeing him live) and his Day 1 closing set back-to-back with Chris Lake (yep, a double dose of TJR in one day). We were also fortunate enough to sit down and chat with the Connecticut native, who’s about as cool as they come.
MyMusicIsBetterThanYours.com (MMIBTY): We’re really curious about your live sets, how you plan what you’re going to play – obviously you play around with some House and Trap and my favorite new genre – “Go To War” heme songs – how do you figure out how to go about it?
TJR: Recently for the festival type stuff I have basically a playlist set up with 4 different folders – I think I have like funky, trap, electro and Melbourne. Right? And I just go through those folders, I don’t have any set plan. I just have 20-30 tracks in each folder and go through back and forth while dictating the key I’m in. If I’m in like 9 in electro, I’ll look up 9 in Melbourne and move it all around.
MMIBTY: We saw how scratching was your thing. How did you integrate that in your set?
TJR: When I first started to DJ, what really caught my eye like in the 90s, I saw House DJs scratching. So, I was into Hip Hop but I wasn’t into like turntables and like battle DJs. But I saw House DJs like doing it – like Badboy Bill from Chicago. So I was like ‘aw sick that’s pretty cool’. And then I got into more DMC stuff. But I think ’cause the 90s was like super into turntables and scratching and because I saw House guys doing it – it really just became a part of what I did. As opposed to now, DMC shit now – nobody knows what’s going on. I think it’s just because of the era I grew up in – scratching is just my thing.
MMIBTY: Most recently we tend to group you together with guys like Tommie Sunshine and Will Sparks who have aggressive but jacked-up kinds of sounds. But then you have the reggae-infused songs like One Love and Funky Vodka. What tends to influence you most when writing a track? How do you decide what direction to take your music in?
TJR: If it’s sample based like Funky Vodka then the sample usually decides the vibe of the track. My bouncy stuff is more head-boppin funk vibe I guess. I keep the funk twangy like a banjo
MMIBTY: How was it decided you and Chris Lake would be doing a back-to-back set to close out Day 1 of Wavefront? Had you done one before? How did you like it?
TJR: Found out a few hours prior but was totally fine. We’ve done it a few times before so it was a breezzzeeezzeeeee
MMIBTY: What are your thoughts on Wavefront as a festival? Although in its second year, it’s unlike other festivals in the U.S. where not only is it on the beach but it features a lot of underground artists that most major festivals do not book.
TJR: I think it shows the demand for underground music in this area. Chicago and New York have always had deep roots so it’s a more experienced crowd.
MMIBTY: If you could play a set of entirely non-House tracks what genre would you play? What would your opening and closing songs be?
TJR: Oh probably some different BPM stuff. It’s all new to me right now so I’d be into it. It’d start off with Banks and end with Sane Beats
MMIBTY: What’s the biggest compliment you’ve ever received. and to go with that, craziest tour story you have?
TJR: For me it’s when people you respect as a producer acknowledge your work by playing your track. Doesn’t get old like me 🙂
My friend was djing once and decided to urinate under the dj booth while he was spinning. Huge puddle of piss is raging out making everyone scatter like it was a fire. gooood times!
MMIBTY: Regarding twitter talk with Zedd about numerous producers benefitting off of your ‘Ode to Oi’ sound on Beatport, how do you react to that? Is it flattering per se, or kind of annoying to see others try to rip off a sound that you’ve already established for yourself.
TJR: I’m cool with it! I like to poke fun at a few that are a bit over the line but I feel it’s very flattering. If I can be an influence then that’s a cool thing. It’s not MY sound. That vibe I made is a huge result from Australia’s influence on me hence the name of the track.
TJR has been keeping busy with his touring schedule and by continuing to pump out tracks. His most recent tune, “What’s Up Suckaz”, is as bouncy as ever and dropped on Chris Lake’s Rising Music a couple weeks ago. It recently hit #1 overall on the Beatport Top 10 and is still holding strong at that spot today. Even better TJ is going on the road through North America with his Rising Music crew alongside Chris Lake, Nom De Strip, and more. If you live in one of the cities they’re stopping in you’d be stupid not to attend their show!