TJR is getting geared up to make his way back to where it all began for him. This New Year’s Eve, he headlines at Fluxx Nightclub.
The Connecticut-born producer says he’s indebted to San Diego for being his “first fan base,” and the place where he recorded “Funky Vodka,” the track that famously made its way into Pitbull’s contagious hit, “Don’t Stop the Party.” The Toots & the Maytals-sampled hit record was produced right here in Encinitas out of a bedroom he rented from a friend.
TJR, or TJ Rozdilsky, didn’t plan on a DJ career. Instead, he had his heart set on getting a degree in pro golf management in North Carolina, and get this: He even “hated dance music,” or so he thought. When a friend took him to his first underground party -- everything changed for TJR.
Dita Quinones: Okay, help me understand how a golfer turned EDM DJ?
TJR: I wanted become a general manger of a golf course. I left Connecticut for a college in North Carolina -- Methodist University. They had a program there called professional golf management, or PGM. It was one of four colleges that offered it. I went there because that’s all I wanted to do. I wanted to be a golf pro. In my first semester, freshman year, my friend took me to a rave. I was really skeptical because I hated the dance music – I was a metal/hip-hop head. Back then in the ‘90s, radio dance music was cheesy. But, when I got exposed to this “house” music -- the stuff coming out of Chicago and New York -- I was like, ‘Holy crap! I didn’t know this existed. I can get into this!’ I liked its bass, I liked its drums.
DQ: You’ve seen EDM grow since the ‘90s. What do you think of it today and its impact on the concert scene? It’s like nightclubs on a concert-level nowadays.
TJR: Overall, kids love the music so that’s what’s bringing them out to shows. It’s not necessarily about DJing or skill, or who’s doing what when they’re up there. People don’t really care about that. What makes up for the skill thing is the big screens and LED lights, which makes it exciting. I think what makes it really special is that it’s a powerful music force and it really brings people together.
DQ: How did a relatively unknown DJ’s song get into the hands of a multi-platinum artist like Pitbull?
TJR: It’s just such a bizarre story – I never would’ve thought something like this could happen. I found out at the “Don’t Stop the Party” video shoot when I finally got to meet Pitbull, and we got to talk about things -- he said his personal DJ was listening to “Funky Vodka.” They would travel and listen to the song and were creating a hook over my track! They even got approached by their record label saying, “We have this song, ‘Funky Vodka’ that we think you’d like.” But Pit was already like, “We are on it already.” It happened so quickly!
DQ: That’s a trip!
TJR: If someone had told me, “You’re going to make this track, and Pitbull is going to sing over it.” I’d be like, “Get out of here, man.” It’s really funny because I made that song in my little bedroom that I rented out from my friend’s house in Encinitas. I’m producing this song in my little bedroom. I was at a Rangers hockey game at Madison Square Garden, and then they start playing it during the game! And I just think, "I was making this in my bedroom." It’s crazy — the world we live in now. You don’t need an expensive studio. You can make a song in your bedroom. I know my life — none of it makes sense.
DQ: You have first-hand experience living in San Diego. How would you describe our town?
TJR: I’ve had this conversation with multiple people about why San Diego is such a fun party town. I don’t know if it’s the collective consciousness of the people — it’s such a chill city and people just know how to have a good time. It’s almost like it’s Southern California’s version of Vegas. They get down to pretty much anything. You don’t have to just play one style. I can jump around playing different genres. I also love it too because it’s where I built my first fan base.
DQ: How are you going to prep for your big New Year’s Eve party at Fluxx?
TJR: I’m a pretty relaxed kind of a guy. I’ll probably be staying in North County. I’ll eat at my favorite breakfast spot, Swami’s Cafe. And throughout the day, I’ll probably be listening to music like making edits of tracks. I’ll pretty much treat it like any other work day, but I will be making a special mix for when it turns midnight.
DQ: Any New Year’s resolutions for you?
TJR: I would like to take more time off. I don’t take any time off. This industry and this scene makes you work until you collapse, so for the new year, I would like to play more golf and enjoy a day or two off a month.
The self-proclaimed bounce DJ just dropped “Ass Hypnotized” featuring Dances with White Girls, and will hit the road on a two-month tour with DTA next year in February. To purchase tickets to TJR’s New Year’s Eve Bash at Fluxx, go here.
Dita Quinones is a multimedia journalist born in Tijuana with a passion for Latin alternative and hip-hop music news. Her main goal is to uplift and inform so that the Latino, Filipino and hip-hop community get knitted into the fabric of American history. In addition to SoundDiego, she contributes to Latina, Fox News Latino, Poder, VidaVibrante, San Diego CityBeat and HipHopDx. She is also the founder of the infamous music and politrix blog GN$F! Follow Dita on Twitter or on Facebook.