We’re here with Thomas Rozdilsky, also known as TJR, at Royale, in the heart of the club district in downtown Boston. It’s about 11:30PM on Friday, April 29th, 2016, and we’re chilling in the green room backstage while Shaun Frank takes over the house for a while. We were fortunate enough to snag his company for a few minutes and get a sense of where he is in his career and his current views of the music industry.
ASHLEY FELDMAN: Hey TJ, let’s get started. I’m anxious to hear you spin tonight and the crowd out there is heating up. You’re about to go on, how are you doing right now?
THOMAS JOSEPH ROZDILSKY: Haha you know sometimes it’s hard to tell. I usually do my pre-show routine back in the hotel room before coming out to the venue.
AF: What does that look like?
TJR: I go through all of my folders to refresh my memory. I played last night so I feel good about things at the moment, but in order for me to do my best I need to know where everything is. When I travel during the week and produce on the road, I use a different side of my brain and I’m not as in tune to the DJ part. I need some time to get into that flow.
AF: How do you organize your music?
TJR: I use a platform called record box and I categorize everything first by genre and then by key. I have like 50 or 60 tracks in every folder so when I’m trying to mix quickly it’s helpful to know the tracks first hand and then I’m able to remember what comes next.
AF: How would describe your personality and sound?
TJR: Humor is a big part of my life, so the music I make always has some sort of bouncy, fun and quirky vibe. I throw in a ton of samples that represents how I am in that regard. I’m not always like that in my personal life, I experience the downs just like everybody else does but that’s why I make music, to make me happy.
AF: “Wanna Party” has hit #1 on Beatport recently, that’s rad, congrats! Alongside oldie but goodie tracks like “Ode to Oi” and “Eat God, See Acid,” your music and trademark as an artist is unreplicable. What is your process of sitting down to produce a song?
TJR: I’ve always been someone who wants things done my way. Even if someone tells me that I’m doing something wrong, I’ll go ahead and do it anyway just to keep things authentic. That’s the way I go about dance music, I don’t want to sound like anybody else. I try and get as weird as possible in the studio when I’m making beats or designing sound leads. A lot of the time what I create ends up sounding so whack and I think, “Wow, I have to use this.” I’ll even go through things like Fred Flintstone samples and hook ‘em to my tracks.
AF: Is there a favorite venue you’ve played so far since your time in North America or is there a city you’re most looking forward to?
TJR: LA to me, over the last few years, has become a really special place to play for. When I was younger I went to a public high school and felt like I couldn’t quite figure things out. But then I transferred to a private school to play hockey and found myself in that smaller environment.. Moving to LA from Connecticut was a similar experience for me. At first, I felt kind of overwhelmed with the size and combustion of the culture in Cali, as I had during my time at public school. But soon enough I was able to call it home and felt that connection on a personal level and with fans. It’s a fun time right now because the crowd over there rolls with whatever I throw at them.
AF: Going back to basics for a moment. How did you decide to hit the road and pick up this lifestyle?
TJR: I went to college in North Carolina to play and study golf. I ended up discovering DJing and raves down there. So when I graduated I came back up to Danbury, Connecticut and I had a hard time because there wasn’t much of a scene for me around those parts. I don’t know man, I had to create the world for myself. It wasn’t out there for me from what I could see.. So eventually I hit a point in my life where I was sick of the corporate job I held. I thought to myself “I can do this forever, but I only have a small window of chance to go out to LA and make it happen.” That’s how I ended up moving out west.
AF: Do you have any long terms goals you hope to accomplish in five years?
TJR: I hope they cure baldness and I have hair *chuckles*. Nah, I mean this music scene is changing so much. I’m excited to start working on new music and it’s cool how things are changing though, the evolution of it all keeps it current. If it was the same thing all the time, it would eventually fall off. Hmm…maybe I’ll make an album in five years time.
AF: What do you see the industry trending towards at this point?
TJR: I think it’s happening right now, EDM really is that bubble term. Festival bangers are now trap, with the influence of hip-hop. Hip-hop has become massively popular in the last few years within this context, so you definitely see that meld between the dance world. The millennials I’ve found are into the Bass House, Future-Bass movement and they’ve claimed that as their own, predominantly amongst Americans. I think at least for the next few years that trend will continue to ride out.
AF: Do you find it difficult to stay true to your sound and avoid being disingenuous in keeping up with what is popular in the mainstream?
TJR: The thing is, you can’t chase trends, I’ve been around watching and doing this long enough to realize that. This kind of thing has happened before, for example with Complextro about six or seven years ago. It’s crazy this stuff turns into producer porn, guys are out here trying to make the craziest bass sounds and eventually it turns into this incoherent war that falls away after some time. I am a DJ first and foremost though so I’ll always throw some trap bangers into the set, I love doing that stuff. But true to form for me is definitely house music and techno.
AF: How can fans best keep up with you?
TJR: I’ve been using Snapchat more, but I admit it’s hard to get into that world. At this point just put a camera on my shoulder and film me 24/7, I think things would be way more interesting that way, haha. But you can follow me at IAMTJR on Snapchat and @TJR on Twitter.
AF: I wish you the best of luck, I’m sure you’re gonna kill it out there tonight.
And kill it he did. Big thanks to TJR for playing a packed house on the 29th at Royale! We look forward to seeing him again soon!