Cross Faders, Chops And Shredding: VIBE Sits Down With TJR
TJ Rozdilsky aka TJR is notorious for his hard, electro rock influenced acid style sounds that have captured the attention of every nearly every member of the EDM community. His latest single, “Don’t Stop The Party” that features Pitbull, has become a world-class club jam. The track takes uses the successful recipe of TJ’s 2012 hit release, “Funky Vodka” along with Pitbull’s fiery vocals that keep pulses racing. Additionally, it has also had huge commercial success, becoming the featured soundtrack on the Bud Light commercials and hitting Platinum, a few weeks earlier.
TJR has been actively involved in the dance music circuit for a very long time. He is an exceptional master of the decks and sets fire on CDJs. Watch the video below to get a glimpse of his skills.
VIBE caught up with him in an interview where he shed light on his journey as a producer and the art of turntablism.
VIBE: You used to play golf when you were younger. How did you switch from swinging birdies to spinning decks? We hear you’re quite the expert when it comes to shredding on the decks. Could you highlight some aspects that drew your towards turntablism and the art itself? CDjs or turntables?
TJR: I was a sports guy as a kid and I was way to ADD to actually sit down and learn an instrument. I used to prefer hitting a hockey puck and playing golf. So I ended up moving to North Carolina for college and discovered DJing and really liked it. After that I found these turntables at a pawn shop and then it pretty much began there.
Since I grew up in the ’90s, DMC was really big back then. There were people like Bad Boy Bill, Mixmaster Mike who were all about scratching records and bringing DMC type of energy and technical skills into house music. And that’s what I started doing. I learnt how to scratch was over house music, not hip-hop, I like to use a lot of loops and make up my own effect loops. So I do a lot of cutting with that, accapellas and I really love chopping tracks with the cross fader.
Have you created something on the fly?
A lot of the times I’m out there I just wing it. I never know what’s going to trigger so
Sometimes when I’m playing a track, I would infuse some kind of funky loop, effects and chops into it and that’s what makes it fun because if I nail it I’ll be like “Oh yeah!” and remember that for next time.
Don’t stop the party just hit platinum status? What was going through your mind when that happened?
Dude, each step has been crazier than the next. I mean after “Funky Vodka” hit #1 we found out that they wanted to release it into the mainstream and then Pitbull picked it up. A few weeks later my management was sending me numbers on the record and then it hit platinum….that just blew my mind. So yeah, every step has been crazier than the next.
Judging by the commercial success of the track, bud light commercials etc and the fact that more DJs are being tapped to score movies and commercials, is that something you would be interested in doing at some point?
You know when I started out; I didn’t think that I would be DJing forever. But after things took off, obviously I want to keep exploring and growing from here. So yeah commercials, movies is something I’m interested in the future.
So you would be go back to pursuing golf if you didn’t continue to be a DJ?
The guys I look up to Carl Cox and Fatboy Slim and they’ve been DJing for years. It’s kind of like the RollingStones you know; they’ve had so much success in all these years. I mean if all these people can do it then I think I could to. I would stay in music long term.
Do you find it easier to mix electro house over techno or is it all the same? In 2013, can we expect some old-school TJR acid house productions?
I was always try to keep my sets exciting. I add a lot of surprises in there and mix in a lot of techy, electro, progressive, bouncy stuff…I go across the map.
You think you’ll bring back your acid house sounds this year?
I’ll never rule it out …I could go to Europe this summer and find myself in an underground club in Paris, listening to a Gesaffelstein type of set and find something inspiring. There is a demand for more darker and underground stuff these days so yeah maybe in the long-term.
In a recent panel at SXSW, Deadmau5 and Richie Hawtin shed light on how technology’s progress has made things much easier for people and become DJs. When you started out as a DJ what were some of the things that you found different in relation to music technology? Was it challenging? How did you overcome it?
Back in the day, you needed to actually have friends who were DJs or had some kind of knowledge. It wasn’t like now when you can just turn on a computer and have everything you need to know in front of you. . While in college, I would just buy records, which were a whole process in itself and just mix songs at the breakdowns. I didn’t know how to beat match at the time. Finally, I met other DJs that gave me some guidance, which really helped. The best part about having records now is you really appreciate them because they’re a reflection of your struggle.
What do you use for your live setup?
I use three CDjs, one of them is for scratching. Yup that and Pioneer 800 mixer and I’m good to go!
Your bootlegs are fantastic. Is the funky vodka bottle the secret behind the success of these gems? Please explain.
No, my roommate got me that one when “Funky Vodka” hit it big and there was this big party. But its like the genie bottle you got a rub that for good luck!
Could you name three emerging artists that you are listening to at the moment? Any upcoming collaboration that you are working on?
Will Sparks, Joel Fletcher and Nom De Strip.
If you were given the opportunity to write your own fortune for a fortune cookie what would it be?
Sophistication is simplicity.
Check out the tour dates for his upcoming Canada and Europe tour:
Guelph, ON, Canada at Tabu
Peterborough, ON, Canada at Aria
London, ON, Canada at Tabu
Dublin, Ireland at The Village
Naples, Italy at Q Club
Sligo, Ireland at The Velvet Rooms
Vienna, Austria at Fluc Wanne
London at MoS
Milan, Italy at East End Studio
Przytkowice, Poland at ENERGY 2000
Katowice, Poland at ENERGY 2000
Liverpool, England at Privilege
Mantova, Italy at Priscilla
Carlow, Ireland at The Foundry
Belfast, Ireland at RUSH
Lyon, France at Glam Club
San Francisco, CA at Ruby Skye