Posted by: Amy – Feb 16, 2017
Tittsworth is an American DJ, producer, night club owner (U Street Music Hall), and record label owner (T&A). He has worked with the likes of Q-Tip, Theophilus London, Pitbull, Kid Sister and more if you are an east coast electronic music lover, you should know the name Tittsworth.
The DJ has been a part of the east coast scene for some time, playing many large gigs. In Richmond, you may know him from playing Brain Drain or from his many tours around the US. Tittsworth is playing next week here in Richmond and we are excited to have him back for a visit. We caught up with him to get to know the man a little better, and ask some fun questions.
So as we begin I'd like to quickly get this stuff out of the way so we don't beat these dead horses for the entire interview. First off, your actual legal last name that you have had your entire life is in fact, "Tittsworth, correct?" Secondly, your affiliation and affinity for octopi comes from it being the first live animal you ever ate, right?"
Yes indeed, born and raised, Jesse Randol Tittsworth. There's apparently a Tittsworth Road and a rack of Tittsworths in Tennessee, though I feel its fair to mention that I'm half Chinese, half redneck. I think the first thing I ate alive was technically a lobster. Ironically I think I'm developing a shellfish allergy!
Welcome to the club! Ha, ok, so Ive heard you asked about that stuff a million times, but I don't think I've ever heard a follow-up that asked if you think that the way you consume this kind of food in a different and, at least to Americans, unique way has any affect or correlation to the way you produce or approach music in general?
The first time that comes to mind is paying respects to the ingredients... whether referencing go-go, ATL rap, house, whatever, there's a certain authenticity and balance. Also I generally favor the odd bits too!
"Odd Bits" sounds about right for you - maybe save it for an album title or something. Speaking of which, I hear you have a few exciting releases and projects on the way. Your New LP is due out in March, if I'm not mistaken. Did you write this album in any significantly different way than you have with your previous work? And what sort of approach did you take to creating it?
Late March, early April. This debut LP for my new project Reagan Bombs (w/ Scott Sanders) is definitely very different than anything I've done. I recorded legendary go-go drummers like Stomp & Smoke from NEG, learned how to balance those ingredients and grooves with electronic elements. I played with analogue stuff, to try and get it to sound somewhere in between an old go-go tape and a song you could play in a house set now. It's the first time I've produced music this heavily swung. I don't think I'll ever produce stiff 4/4 anymore hah. There's a couple years worth of experiences in this LP, along with some stuff we try to pay homage to. Plus having a director in the RB crew means tons of videos, inappropriate video IG clips, etc. Go Trump! But yeah, pretty different from my debut Tittsworth album, which attempted crossover records in a more pop-aware context (no Pitbull or Nina Sky on this album).
I think we can all be happy about a lack of Pitbull. So the album is actually for Reagan Bombs? That's awesome, and there's definitely something interesting about the timing for this group that's attempting to blend DC Go-Go Music with electronic elements to crop up at this particular time in DC. Would you be able to elaborate on what inspired that a bit and where you are along in the journey that Reagan Bombs has become for you?
To elaborate a bit more, the concept was to take something that Scott and I really really love (DC gogo), and to make music that is heavily inspired by it. Not trying to make it the next jungle terra, or shoehorn it into festival culture, but to hopefully look back on a body of work that feels like it paid respect towards the ingredients, & combined & toyed with them in ways that we've never heard before but wanted to hear. Also we were interested to hear where go-go's breaking point is.. what tempo would it break at, what elements played well sonically and groove wise...
You've been involved in some pretty game-changing projects before and have rightfully earned yourself the title of a tastemaker. Do you have any insights into where you think the next main evolutionary step or fad/craze, depending on how you view it, will be for electronic music?
EDM has been looking for a new craze or fad to latch on to for a while now. I'm not sure if it'll find it anytime soon but those things are hard to really predict. I think a lot of mainstream EDM (even industry) folks don't really care about genres anymore. I remember being in a taxi cab in Taiwan and hearing this song that had a hardstyle section, a trap section, an India tabla style breakdown w/ dubby vocals and all with very traditional Chinese vocals running through the whole thing. There are so many genre artifacts thrown in the blender-- it's this ultimate product of globalization. At the end of the day, I think I just want to write stuff I'll be proud to look back on. I think it's harder to do that for me when I think too much about fads or crazes. Having said that, definitely been listening to more ATL rap lately.
What are your current and recent ties with Richmond and how do you think the scene compares to the Brain Drain Days?
I love Richmond. Tons of good tattoos, great food and good beer all over town. The fact there is still a home-grown, grassroots sort of vibe is great (shoutout to Console Records and their crew!). When the EDM bubble popped a lot of folks left dance music, some by choice and some not. Festival culture and big brands made it hard for there to be a working/middle class in American dance music and I think it's fucking awesome that it appears to be alive and well in Richmond, Virginia.
You can catch Tittsworth at 25 Watt RVA on Thursday, Feb. 23 alongside DELTAnine, RIFFA, TRNK JWLZ, ELLIOTT NESS X ELI CASH
PHIL DICE, and PERUVIAN PINEAPPLE. Tickets are $12 Adv/ $15 door. 8 pm.
Words by John Reinhold