Interview: JSTJR Opens Up About his Creative Process and Embracing New Sounds

JSTJR (pronounced “gesture”) a rising electronic dance music producer and DJ, known for his unique blend of Latin rhythms, bass-heavy beats, and infectious melodies.

Featured in major festivals and clubs around the world, he has earned the support of industry heavyweights such as Diplo, A-Trak, and Dillon Francis, and has released tracks on notable labels like Mad Decent and Dim Mak.

In addition to his successful music career, James S. Tomaszewski Jr., a.k.a. JSTJR, is also the founder of his own label Group Chat, where he curates music from up-and-coming artists and provides a platform for them to showcase their talents.

In an interview with EDM Maniac, JSTJR shared his perspective on the current state of the music industry, delved into the creative process, and gave some insight into what’s next for him as an artist.

EDM Maniac: Can you tell us about a specific experience that inspired a significant change in your sound or style as a DJ?

JSTJR: I think early on, I was always really inspired by different sounds from around the world. I’m from New Hampshire, so when I first started, I was DJing in Boston a lot, but the clubs I was playing in had predominantly college kids.

There wasn’t a lot of opportunity to discover other stuff other than the internet. Early o,n I was making the kind of music inspired by African music and Brazilian music and playing it in clubs in Boston. And it was hit or miss. But when I moved to LA and there, obviously the Mexican culture is the predominant culture.

That crowd really energized me to lean into it and really start championing it more. I always tried, and it was tough for me on the east coast, but moving to LA and experiencing such positive feedback. That was a huge moment and I think why I have such a strong Latino fan base now.

EDM Maniac: How do you go about selecting your collaborators and what qualities do you look for in potential partners? Additionally, what has been the most rewarding collaboration?

JSTJR: Honestly, if I like a song by someone, especially if they’re not super well known, then I’ll usually reach out and be like, “Hey, we should make a song together. I like what you did with this.”

When you hear something that not everyone else is doing, it’s really exciting. Even if it’s just something small, how they process their kick a certain way.

The most rewarding was when I collaborated with Diplo and Major Lazer early on in my career. I was still in college at the time and it was the biggest thing I had done. So that was super inspiring and empowering for me.

EDM Maniac: You’re playing not one, but two sets at Beyond Wonderland. Can you describe how it feels to reach that level and what your fans can expect from your sets?

JSTJR: It’s pretty crazy. I think in life in general, when you achieve the next thing you don’t feel it as much as when you’re looking at it from afar.

You’re like, “I can’t wait to achieve this thing,” but when you achieve it, you’re looking at the next thing or you’re like, “oh, well it’s not even that good.”

I think many people, especially me, kind of diminish accomplishments at times just because of always wanting to achieve the next thing.

I’m trying to stay more present with it all because it’s crazy. Playing two sets at any festival is awesome! In the past few days, I’ve been really thankful because this is what I’ve always dreamed of doing.

EDM Maniac: Your ‘Rave Daddy’ persona has become a beloved part of your brand and your ‘Making Raver’s Rich’ videos have provided some hilarious moments. What’s been the most memorable interaction you’ve had with a raver in one of your videos? 

JSTJR: Geez, honestly, EDC Mexico last year was fucking hilarious and so fun! Everyone mostly didn’t speak English and I spoke a little Spanish, the best I could. There were some funny moments where I asked for a DJ that starts with J and they said names like Hardwell because of the language. That was probably one of my favorite memories of the “Making Ravers Rich” series.

For “Rave Daddy”, the first time I was gonna ask people for shoulder rides because that’ll be so funny. I [asked this guy], “How much do you squat?” And he said 450.

“Well, I weigh like 200 pounds so you can definitely squat me.” Then he just threw me on his shoulders and it was so fucking funny. It was great!

EDM Maniac: Is there a specific message you would like to share with your fans, either about your music or the festival experience as we kick off this festival season?

JSTJR: I would say, be as open-minded as possible. I feel like there’s not a whole lot of open-mindedness. So approaching a set and thinking, I’m not gonna like this because it’s dubstep or because it’s house. At the end of the day, we’re all here at an EDM festival, which is niche enough.

It’s important to ask, “What do I love about this set?” Obviously, see your favorite acts, and have fun with your friends. Go see the famous DJs because they’re great for a reason, but be open-minded and explorative.

Spotify is controlling what we listen to and it can be hard to find cool music these days, so the place to do it is a festival. Look at the lineup, listen to some of the music, and see if you like it.

Be explorative this year because everyone’s just starting to follow the trends. Now more than ever it’s important to support people who are doing cool new shit.

Featured photos provided by JSTJR’s Facebook. 

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