In-depth Interview with TJR [TMN Resident Artist of September]

What's Up Suckaz (#1 Beatport Overall)

We come across amazing talent every day on The Music Ninja but there are only a handful of artists that we regularly fawn over. TJR has been delivering tracks with uncompromising layers of natural and unique rhythms in such an effortless manner, his rising popularity surprises no one. A true genius of the craft, we were able to talk to our Resident Artist for the Month of September to discuss his life before becoming TJR, how he actually went to college to pursue a professional golf management degree, his current projects and what we can expect for the coming months. Check it out.

TMN: This month we have the wonderfully talented artist TJR taking over the site and bringing his wonderful music to our listeners. TJ, thank you so much for becoming part of the Ninja family. Let’s start off from the beginning and yes I mean the way back in the day beginning. Tell us about where you were born and something you like best about your hometown.

Born and raised in Danbury, CT. Suburban kid all the way. The best thing and probably the only thing that saved me from not going to jail was the local public golf course, Richter Park GC. I still found a way to get in trouble there but at least I developed a passion for the game which lead me to music later on.

TMN: When you were a kid, did you grow up in a musical household? Did your parents sing or play instruments or listen to music around the house?

My oldest brother was more the musician in the family and my Mom was a hippy folk singer in her day. Music played a big role in my life like most but it wasn’t until I discovered DJing that I found my outlet to express my musical side.

TMN: And what about you, as a kid, what kind of music would you have been listening to in middle/high school?

Middle school was rap and metal. High School was around the time grunge hit (nirvana, pearl jam) and biggie & tupac emerged. Plus the 90’s had an eclectic mixture of music on the alternative stations. 90’s were such a great time for music, very lucky to group up in that time period.

TMN: Now let’s talk a little about college. Rumor has it, you went to college to actually pursue your love of golf is that true? But it was here that you actually started DJing and realized just how much you loved that. Can you tell us about your first time DJing ever and what that was like for you?

My HS golf coach told me about a college that had a professional golf management degree. I wouldn’t have gone to college if that degree didn’t exist, so I went. Discovered raves my freshman year and when I returned my sophmore year I wanted to DJ. A local DJ at the time, Phat Rabbit, taught me how to beat match and gave me my first gig. What I remember the most DJing for the first time was how to beatmatch with monitors. Kids today may not have to deal with this since beatmatching is kind of a forethought but man that shit was hard with shitty club monitors!

TMN: Honest now, did the DJing in college bring the ladies around? Come on, you can be honest 

Well I had hair back then so that probably helped more than DJing!

TMN: Now fast forward, you moved yourself from the East Coast to the West Coast around two years ago to really allow your music a chance to grow and expand. And now here you are, playing at such events as “Made in America” and other huge festivals, what has it been like as an artist to see your music touch such a large audience?

It didn’t really hit me until I went to Australia for the first time a few years ago and the Europe tours I had this year. Australia because I had no clue I had a following over there. This was the time of “Juke it” and that’s when I discovered Melbourne Bounce. Europe this year cause I’ve never seen a reaction to my music like I did to Ode to Oi in countries like Italy, Ireland and France.

TMN: You have said that the best thing you did for your music was to not care if other people liked your music or not, because you were going to make the music you liked regardless of what critics thought. That is some great advice to give any artist, writers, painters, musicians etc. What advice would you give some of those young artists out there who are just starting out? What is something you know now that you had wished you knew when you first started out?

I like my path and I’d advise kids starting off to make other music besides “big room” cuz you think you’ll blow up in a year! I think learning how to make other genres makes you a better producer at the beginning. You learn what works and doesn’t for the different times of crowds which is important for developing your own style. If you ONLY listen to big room music and try to produce it, you will probably 99% sound exactly like what you’ve been hearing and that’s no bueno.

TMN: Now let’s talk about the success of that little song “Funky Vodka”. It reached #1 on Beatport and then a certain artist named Pitbull took your beats and made “Don’t Stop the Party” (which you look like you are having a grand time in that music video just side note). What is it like to hear your music being played in commercials and having other musicians approach you asking to use your music?

Best story with that is last winter. I’m a die hard NY Ranger hockey fan and was at the garden for a game when DSTP came on during the 3rd period. I freaked out! It’s experiences like that (and the music video :) is why I loved the opportunity. What I always tell people is that the mainstream came to me, I didn’t go to them. I’ve had a lot of pop interest in my music, especially my new stuff and I think it’s a great compliment. Again, it’s more stories to tell my grand kids!

TMN: Congrats on the success of your recently released “What Up Suckaz”. Tell us a little bit about what is on the horizon for you this coming year and, I know it is a few months off but, any goals for the next year?

My goal every year is to stay successful enough to where I never have to go back to working a 9-5 in the corporate world like I did for many years. It’s the honest truth. It’s the motivation to why I’m obsessively passionate about playing great sets and making the most unique and best music I can produce.

TMN: Now of course we have to throw out some fun questions right? Let’s first discuss this golf thing. Where is your favorite course to play and do you have any fun wood covers and who would you caddy for if you could?

My home course Richter Park GC! Nah, I’m pretty boring with my golf gear, just standard covers haha. Caddie? Phil Jackson would be my first choice if I wanna play well, but if I wanna have a laugh, John Daly.

TMN: Do you actually watch golf on television (I will go out a limb and say, it is not the most exciting thing ever to watch).

It’s boring as hell you kidding me! I only watch the majors or when Tiger is in the field.

TMN: Who do people say you look like (and if you google image search yourself, Pitbull comes up with your name, brothers really right?).

Well us bald folk are our own breed! I get Vin Diesel which is why friends call me Vein Diesel cause of the veins that budge on my head haha

TMN: What are three things you travel with on tour at all times?
Dental Floss, Tums, Baby wipes.

TMN: Last person you texted in your cell phone?

TMN: If you could only drink one alcoholic beverage for a year, what would you drink?
French Martini

TMN: Girl crush…and man crush, we all have them.
I think Cassie is the most beautiful girl ever. I have a crazy obsession for Tiger Woods cuz he’s a once in a lifetime elite athlete.

TMN: Favorite thing about living in San Diego…
Swami’s Cafe in Encinitas, CA.

TMN: Whose music would you play in the background if you were trying to make the moves on someone?
Marvin Gaye

TMN: TJ, thank you so much for taking time out of your crazy schedule to chat with us. Hope the fall tour is amazing and can’t wait to see what you have in store the rest of the year!
thanks ya’ll :)

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Release into the Beat: Rock Genius Breaks Down the Top 5 lines on RAC’s “Let Go” [Guest Post]

Let Go (ft. Kele & MNDR)

A little while back we posted a rather infectious tune from one of our favorite remixers, RAC. While we’ve enjoyed dancing around the office to Kele’s smooth vocals and MNDR’s energetic choruses, it’s about damn time we learn what they all mean. With that in mind, we decided to hook up with the legendary lyrical analytical abilities of Rock Genius. So, give a warm TMN round of applause to  Rock Genius Editor Adrian Spinelli, our guest ninja for today’s breakdown of “Let Go.”

While RAC has become the unofficial master of rock/electronica remixes, Portland-based André Allen Anjos dropped a single (“Let Go”) off of his upcoming EP ‘Don’t Talk To‘ (out Oct. 1) with the help of Bloc Party’s Kele and NY-based MNDR. The result is a beautiful song about a more than sympathetic lover who’d rather be a shoulder to cry on than a castigator of destructive behavior. You’re gonna wanna keep this one on repeat. Trust.

Press play and peep this Rock Genius lyrical breakdown:

5. “And they say you are a monster/ But what I see’s a child”

Kele is basically the greatest boyfriend ever. While many dudes will run away when they see their girl letting people get to her and almost falling apart at the seems, he chooses to focus on her inner beauty and what made him fall for her in the first place.

4. “Just try, Just try, just try to stay sober/ It’s eating you”

A lot of us have been there. Bastards got you down? Hit the bottle. But again, Kele pleads with the woman he cares about to chill out and lean on him instead of getting wasted.”

3. “You are golden, you are pure”

You just can’t help but think of The Outsiders and the classic “Stay gold Ponyboy” line. Her essence isn’t lost and he wants her to focus on what makes her an amazing companion.

2. “So let go, let go, let go of your fire/ Live it up til we crash and there’s smoke in the air”

MNDR’s sultry hook is the part that just makes you want to move your shoulders. It repeats until the “crash” and we feel the subject’s release as the line punctuates. In effect, we “Let Go” of our own qualms and release into the beat.

1. “Don’t be, don’t be so rough with me/ When you are a gem”

So clever. This line elicits the biggest smile of the jam. We already love Kele’s approach with the girl and he’s just so damn sweet with her. We’re rooting for her the same way we’re rooting for him now, cause he’s fully convinced us what a diamond she is.

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[Hip-Hop] MellowHigh – In The Meantime (Prod. Thelonious Martin)

In The Meantime (Prod. Thelonious Martin)

It can take some effort to keep track of all the groups within the Odd Future collective, but if there’s one thing you can always be certain of, no matter who’s making the music, it’s guaranteed to be dope. “In The Meantime,” just so who you know we’re dealing with here, I’ll let give you a little background on this group within a group within a group. MellowHigh consists of MellowHype (Hodgy BeatsLeft Brain) and Domo Genesis. While the trio usually relies on Left Brain to produce their material, this time around they reached out to Chitown’s Thelonious Martin to help them develop a polished and mature sound. The atmospheric instrumental is absolutely perfect for Hodgy and Domo to flex their mystifying flows, but the production also falls right in line with the SAVEMONEY beat maker’s signature sound. If this is what MellowHigh has in store for us when their self-titled album drops on October 31st, then we’re in for a real treat.

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[Remix] Janelle Monáe – Electric Lady (Dungeon-Wondamix) (Feat. Solange, Big Boi & Cee Lo Green)

Janelle Monáe
Electric Lady (Dungeon-Wondamix) feat. Solange, Big Boi & Cee Lo Green

It’s only been a few days since the release of Janelle Monáe‘s sophomore album, The Electric Lady, but now we already have a remix to the album’s title track. Included as a bonus track on the deluxe edition available only at Target, this juiced up remake features some familiar faces like Big Boi, Cee Lo Green, and of course Solange, who was also on the original. The ATLiens lay down some pretty impressive bars alongside the ArchAndroid, making this a power anthem that’s guaranteed to last you through the weekend. If you dig this single, make sure to check out our album review before purchasing a copy for yourself.

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[NEW] Lorde – Team


With Lorde‘s “Royals” rapidly rising up the charts, it seems like a better time than ever to be a part of her “Team.” Deciding to capitalize on her success, the young songstress felt particularly inspired to unleash her brand new single late last night. “Team” is a bouncy, infectious tune that follows in the same vein as its popular predecessor. With its rattling drums and glimmering synths, it won’t take very long for this one to get stuck in your head. I’ll let Lorde handle the rest of the description herself though:

i am in paris as i release this. every street we drive down makes my eyes pop with the most incredible things carved in stone, and gilded on pillars, and wrought with metal; the heroes and heroines of this city aren’t so hard to find. this song’s are a little more mismatched, less classic courtesans on their pedestals, but nonetheless brilliant. this song is kinda of that world, and at the same time, very much of this one. enjoy.
“Team” is currently available for purchase on iTunes (strictly in Australia for now).

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[NEW] Phantogram – Black Out Days

Black Out Days

Our last Phantogram sighting came in the form of an appearance on Big Boi‘s Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, but now it seems like the duo are primed to finally release their second full-length album later this year. The New York based group are ready to start things off in a big way with “Black Out Days,” an addicting indie pop number that’s instantly ear-catching with its sweeping percussion and fleeting vocals. There’s no details yet on the status of the album (all we really have to go off of is this), but we’re hoping to learn more soon. In the interval, we’ll keep this little ditty endlessly on repeat.

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