Sometimes a song just grabs you, and, no matter how many times you hit replay or hear it dropped live, you will never tire of it. "Ode To Oi" became one such song for me, a track that not only engaged me musically but spoke to me (and many others) on a different level. TJR, the American electronic artist behind the production, has reached the upper echelon of success with "Ode" and the ubiquitous "Funky Vodka", but such notoriety didn't come from one unstoppable release. Read on for a glimpse at how he got into the industry, his approach to performing, and an exclusive download of his collaboration with Deth Hertz.
Earmilk: What did you want to be when you were young? Did it involve music in any way?
TJR: Went through phases. Wanted to save the wolves, be a Marine Sniper, Hockey Player, Golfer. Music was really important to me growing up but I'd rather shoot a puck or hit a golf ball. Learning to play a instrument seemed way too boring at the time. Then I discovered DJing my freshman in College. Learning to mix and scratch just clicked and I still treat it as my physical outlet.
EM: How has your sound changed from when you started to now?
TJR: Producer wise, I started off focused on Acid House because it was my favorite genre at the time; this was around 2005. Then I heard Switch in 2007 and got hooked on that sound. Sold almost all my analog gear and went digital. Since then I've learn to be more focused with my grooves, developed bolder leads but still kept the bounce.
EM: Was there ever a time where you realized you had “made it”? What was it like?
TJR: Yeah, a few months ago actually! I was walking on the golf course next to my place to go putting. There I am, taking a break from producing, to go putting. The golf course overlooks the ocean and I had this "Lieutenant Dan" moment lol. I'm doing the two things I love most. I left Connecticut in November '09 from LA with a wish to make it. It's a great feeling of accomplishment. But that feeling lasts only 10 minutes when you remember how much you have to do when you get home!
EM: Recently, you have really tapped into this Melbourne House genre. What draws you (and fans) to this sound?
TJR: The simple but catchy melodies and that head boppin' bounce. It's very club oriented. It's starting to evolve and diversify too which is important. Melbourne has a very strong electronic music following so it's a city capable of supporting an emerging genre (I think the sound dates back to 2005 actually, but it caught its stride recently).
EM: Do you have general approaches to the way you perform, song selection etc. for different continents? How much of your set is scripted versus spontaneous?
TJR: Playing out consistently puts you in a groove with your music. I'm like half winging it and the other half memory of certain routes to take based on key. Mixed in key influences the direction of my sets a lot. Scratching about the same. Some tracks I know where to scratch, others I just go for it. If I fuck up, I fuck up.
EM: How about in the industry itself – do people have any preconceived notions about you as an American artist rather than a European?
TJR: Nah, everyone for the most part seems cool.
EM: What do you have in store for 2013?
TJR: Keep improving my music and my sets. And find more time to play golf.
Thank you to TJR for the interview! Now take a listen to “Don’t Hertz Me”, a playful collaboration between the man himself and Los Angeles duo Deth Hertz. Not much can be found on the latter two, but their frequent shows at Avalon and Voyeur in California have them alongside big names, like Tommy Trash and Simian Mobile Disco. As for the track itself, you’ll find it bouncy and inventive with a plucking synth that weaves around a skittering melody and “What Is Love” vocal samples.
TJR & Deth Hertz
"Don't Hertz Me"