How TJR became a Festival Headliner

by Alek Sanchez

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TJR has been making waves this past year in the electronic dance scene. He attributes much of his success to the patience and hard work he put into being the best opening disc jockey. I had the chance to talk on the phone with the man himself about life before making music, the future of electronic dance music and everything in between.

After growing up on the East Coast, TJR decided that a move was in order and packed his bags for Los Angeles. One of the appealing aspects for him was how “open-minded” the West Coast was compared to the East. Electronic dance music, otherwise known as EDM, catapulted into the mainstream around late 2010, something he dubbed, the “Skrillex Effect.” More radio stations opened up to playing EDM-esque songs, and the underground sub-culture that came with them slowly began assimilating itself into the world.

“When you’re opening as a DJ, the speed limit is 55. You can’t go 70 or 80.” TJR said.  “It’s a real art form to warm them up and get the crowd interested.”

By perfecting the art of opening up, TJR gained the attention of local promoters. One of those was San Diego’s LED, and soon was tearing up the Southern California club scene. He was quick to note how competitive the EDM scene was in LA, and later moved down to San Diego, where LED had him consistently booked for its clubs and shows.

Tonight TJR will be one of the artists billed to perform at LED’s “The Dada Land Compound,” a huge Halloween bash featuring Dada Life, A-Trak and Clockwork, just to name a few. The stage has been set, and these artists are ready to throw down at one of the craziest parties San Diego has ever had.

TJR has steadily been adding more festival performances under his belt. Some of the most memorable festivals for him this year have been the HARD “summer music festival” in LA and Jay-Z’s “Made In America” tour in Philadelphia. “The Dada Land Compound” is sure to rank up high with the best of them, and tonight is a can’t miss event.

From working with EDM heavyweights such as Diplo and Chris Lake, to performing at some of the largest music festivals across the nation, what does all this success mean to TJR? “Validation,” he said. “Especially with how competitive the crowd can be in LA, knowing that you made it in the EDM scene after years of hard work and dedication to the craft, it means a lot to be finally recognized for it.”

Being able to own your own spotlight, especially in such a rapid-fire culture as EDM, is a real testament to TJR’s own unique sound and the level of quality he produces.

“EDM is really an ADD culture…genres never really die, and the music of today might not be the music of tomorrow” TJR said. “For example, Skrillex introduced a whole generation to dubstep, but nowadays, dubstep has found its home back in the underground after its time in the mainstream. Trap is definitely the big sound of today, and tomorrow, who knows what it will be?”

TJR has been able to hone his sound into something unique-a fun, funky, bouncy beat-and elevate his status in the world of electronic dance music. I asked him, what was next for him after “making it.”

“To me, my life dream was to never enter a corporate building again. As long as that day never comes, I’ll be happy… I wake up everyday and make music. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

Amen TJR, amen.

When asked where his favorite place to perform was, TJR replied, “I don’t know what it is, but it’s got to be San Diego. The relaxed environment, the open mindedness; San Diego has some of the craziest places. I love it here.”

Amen TJR, amen.

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