Fri, Jun 06, 2008 - Page 13 News List

Tittsworth and tiger penis: sounds like a night at Vibe

By Alita Rickards  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

DJ Jesse Tittsworth visits Taichung tonight and Taipei tomorrow as part of his second Asian tour.

PHOTO: COURTESY OF RICK HIRTLE

What do you get when you mix house, hip-hop, electro, 1980s retro, rock, club, dance, Motown, rave music and samples from television and movies together? An evening with superstar DJ Jesse Tittsworth, playing his own modified version of Baltimore club style on the Taipei leg of his Asian tour.

It’s music for the post-MTV, blog savvy generation. In an interview on Monday night, Tittsworth said, “music is changing. Everything is very instant gratification, very blog, very iPod … . I kind of feel we are nearing the end of the album days, so I think that delay between what’s in an artist’s head and what is in the audiences’ ears is decreasing.”

What this creates is very energetic, danceable music that utilizes not only rhythm, tempo and bass to get the crowd moving, but memory and association. A Tittsworth set consists of pumping music that has samples and bits of songs mixed in that are sure to tweak memories of high school dance parties and early MTV experiences.

“Deejaying is mainly a combination of what the crowd will allow me to get away with and what I’m trying to accomplish,” Tittsworth said. “There are certain things that I’m trying to accomplish or a feeling; there might be a particular rave tune or electro tune going through my head and depending on whether or not I feel they are ready for that, I might try to build into that based on what they are familiar with. I mix it really fast.”

Lyrics from Queen, a-ha and Nirvana are mashed together with SpongeBob SquarePants samples and killer beats to create a musical style that is catchy, engaging, and amusing to listen and dance to.

What takes Tittsworth’s sound beyond kitsch or cheesiness is the skill with which it is mixed, and the fact that the crowd is being played by the DJ in a way that is almost psychologically unnerving. “You’re studying human interaction. You’ve got a song, and you give it a second, do they like it?” he said. “You push it harder, see where it naturally leads. If they didn’t like it, is it too new? Too old? Too fast? Too slow? I’m constantly observing the crowd. Sometimes I over-think. With the technology it’s so easy to mix so fast.”

Conversing with Tittsworth is as fast-paced and divergent as listening to his music. He samples thoughts, moving from topic to topic effortlessly.

When commiserating on my having recently quit smoking he was compassionate and informative, and told me about the cilia which may be growing back in my lungs. The next minute he recounts a tour tale involving his partner in crime, Dave Nada, and a steaming defecation on a hotel room floor. He cackled gleefully. “I think it’s only a matter of time before our tour videos end up like Jackass videos,” he says.

When he talks about his decade-long involvement with producing and how playing music influences his day-to-day life, he becomes contemplative and serious: “You become a human sampler, where anything you hear, you think about how it applies to music. That clicking sound of the crosswalk in Europe, the thing for blind people, you start to here it in a song — weird little things like that.”

Tittsworth recently made a song out of the sound of a record skipping. “Someone bumps the table and it’s me on the mic yelling ‘stop bumping the table,’ then the skip becomes the beat,” he says.

Listed in URB Magazine as one of its top 100 artists to watch out for in 2007, he has released eight critically acclaimed club records.

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