[EVENT REVIEW + INTERVIEW] JSTJR's Killer Performance At The Observatory & Diving Into Group Chat, "Rave Daddy," And His Artistic Vision
Over the last couple of years, JSTJR has been marking his legacy as a triple threat. This full time producer-DJ hybrid, is also a record label boss and a hilarious online personality known as “Rave Daddy”. The innovative New England-born producer brings iconic dance-fever to the stage with his thumping beats, blending elements of global bass, house, and trap into his original tracks, which are influenced by Latin American roots.
Diving into his next chapter, JSTJR has started his own label called Group Chat Recordings, the main music hub at Academy LA, hosting insane surprise B2B’s and featuring big name guests like Henry Fong, Flosstradamus, and Valentino Khan.
A wildly popular public figure with his humorous Tik Tok videos from “You can have a $1” to “Shuffle Battle Gone Wrong,” JSTJR's fans truly share the same energy as soon as his sets on stage. He has introduced a new generation of ravers captivated by his originality and electrifying performances. iEDM had the pleasure of attending and meeting with JSTJR at his sold-out show at The Observatory in Santa Ana, California.
He sat down with us and talked about his latest release “The Bounce˘” featuring IVARR, his passion for music, accomplishments, and more.
Check out iEDM’s show review and interview with JSTJR at his sold-out Observatory show below.
The Observatory was overflowing with laughter and excitement on Saturday evening when attendees were settling into this special Group Chat event. Everyone was hurrying through the front doors, making way towards the stage while buzzing in anticipation for bass. Soon enough the room began to fill and the crowd waited for the stage to light up, unveiling the first act of the night.
The kick-off of the night was IVARR delivering a feverish techno madhouse set. Mashing iconic hits like “Turn off the Lights” mixed with his original tracks, the crowd was thumping along with the speakers. Fist pumps were waving in the air for his techno heat!
CHYL was next up on stage and wowed the crowd. She slammed the speakers with heavy-bass incorporating speed house elements into her set.
The explosion of pink light on the stage, proved to be Blossom emerging into the party atmosphere. Her dominating bass house beats highlighted her undeniable talent. Blossom's set carried melodic bass and hints of 2000’s core spotlights. The audience was left with the perfect hard dance taste preceding the final act.
JSTJR came full steam ahead with a performance of the masses, executing an exhilarating set with versatility beyond standard beats. he crowd was sastisfied with each note, singing along to Spanish tunes like “La Chona” and Bad Bunny songs. There were goodies being thrown into the crowd and Group Chat merch such as flags (so keep eyes open for a prize next time)!
He suprised the crowd by experimenting with never-before-heard tehcno and dubstep mixes. The reaction from the audience was dance mania and headbanging to the tracks. JSTJR's set was an optimal match of charisma and amplifying energy.
The anthem of Rave Daddy nation came to the speakers as “Do You Like Bass?” blasted on the speakers. Between his mastery on the decks and an abundance amount of buildups and fake-out leads, the stage was set for the JSTJR takeover of the century.
iEDM: Can you tell us a bit about your roots in EDM music? Which people around you had the most significant impact on your passion for music?
JSTJR: I’ve always loved music, playing piano and drums from an early age. My parents were extremely supportive, putting me through lessons, taking me to band practice, etc. My dad actually owned a non-profit for children that involved teaching through music, so I was always around it from early on.
I started listening to “EDM” in middle school, listening to Tiesto and some other stuff with friends. I actually learned how to glowstick with a friend in like 7th grade and we’d turn the lights off in my garage and spin glow sticks haha. I was obsessed with DDR (dance dance revolution) around that time too, getting even more exposure to dance music.
iEDM: This year has been jam packed for you, with energetic performances and the Rave Daddy persona. What has been your main focus on this year and how has that been going?
JSTJR: My main focus this year has been really finding my musical voice as a producer. I started off my career by making slower, African and Latin American influenced music. When I moved to LA, I was throwing parties with friends that centered around “Global Bass” and really grew a grassroots fan base out here through that.
As I started playing bigger crowds and festivals, my sound has shifted and morphed overtime. My DJs sets, for the last five years or so, have been faster and harder, but my productions weren’t always reflective of that. So lately I’ve been working in the studio and finding my voice as a producer. Sort of reinventing my sound, even though it's kind of been this way for a while.
iEDM: Our team is huge fans of your content on social media, from your “$1 dollar” viral videos to your humor on EDM Twitter. Where do you channel your inspiration to come up with the fun ideas to create these videos?
JSTJR: I’ve kind of been chronically online since I was using AOL Instant Messenger back in 2001. Making content and funny videos comes pretty naturally to me, though it is A TON of work. Sometimes it eats into my time being a DJ and producer, and I really try to keep a healthy balance between both worlds.
I just love being a “personality” online. I think some musicians feel forced to do social media and content but for me it’s really a passion.
iEDM: You interact with your fans on such a high level, whether being dressed up in your RaveDaddy get up or chatting via online platforms. Have you seen social media play a significant factor in your career when interacting with the EDM community and fans?
JSTJR: Definitely. It feels like more and more musicians these days are connecting with their fans in this way, but I’ve been doing it from the start and it’s made a huge impact on my career. Bringing people into my world, we form a big community instead of a “fandom.”
There was a time where DJs really tried to create a mystery behind their persona and brand. I’ve always tried to keep it as real as possible and just put it all out there (especially before it was “cool” lol).
iEDM: How do you balance your time when doing all these innovative side projects you invest yourself into, especially with being a full time traveling DJ, viral content creator, record label-boss, and so much more?
JSTJR: It’s really tough and honestly something I’m not great at. I have ADHD so a lot of the time I’m just full-steam-ahead and hyper-focused on one of the various projects I’m working on. I suffer from burnout A LOT and I only really began to realize that in the last couple years.
I’m still learning how to balance time, I just really love what I do and that makes it easy to plug in and work work work. Yesterday I went to the studio to work on music and it wasn’t really clicking and I realized I needed to take some down time. This morning I went to the gym, played some video games, and now I’m answering these questions. Taking days off is hard for me but it’s super important.
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iEDM: In regard to your community-based record label Group Chat, can you share what led you to want to launch your own imprint? Which people or other influences in your life have helped you bring this project into existence?
JSTJR: I’ve always been inspired by community-focused record labels — ones that go beyond the scope of genre and really create a scene of their own. Mad Decent was always a massive inspiration to me and it’s a label we strive to live up to one day at Group Chat. Starting a label has been a massive undertaking by myself and label manager Ivarr.
It’s hard work but we’re driven by celebrating cool and new music that maybe doesn’t get the shine it deserves. We’ve released a ton of music from people from all around the world. Kids like Karan and Klean from Brazil, for example, now getting played by Skrillex or at the Super Bowl during Rihanna’s half time show.
iEDM: Group Chat is known for its Thursday night takeovers at Academy and insane B2B’s.What has been the most rewarding memory for you when seeing this experience come to life?
JSTJR: Honestly, the first few parties were some of the best memories. It’s not easy to predict how a party will perform, but my highest expectations were met and then some. It’s amazing to see artists that I’ve looked up to like Deorro, Valentino Khan, Flosstradamus, etc, come through and throw down sets together.
I think we’re really starting a movement in LA and doing something that no one else is. Now our one-year anniversary is coming up on June 29th. I can’t believe it’s already been a year and we’re super super excited for our secret guests this month.
iEDM: What was the imaginative process behind crafting your latest single, “The Bounce”? How did you utilize whistling and other effects to prompt your style for this track?
JSTJR: “The Bounce” was originally a demo by my friend and label manager Ivarr. I played it out at EDC Vegas 2022 and it went off. I asked him if he’d be down to let me work on it a bit and almost a year later, we released it. We wanted to try to mix the build up/drop structure of EDM with the sounds of hard Techno and it’s still one of the biggest tracks of my set.
iEDM: With you collaborating with DJ legends on the regular like Henry Fong and Deorro, how does it feel as a producer in the industry to have “bro-mances” with other professionals and renowned artists?
JSTJR: Haha, it honestly feels amazing. I was looking up to a lot of these guys when I first started DJing and producing. The fact that I now talk to so many of them, some on a daily basis, is still kind of crazy to me when I think about it.
At the same time, they have become really good friends and people I can rely on to give me advice or help me stay healthy and happy in such a demanding career. I can say for sure I’ve found some best friends in the DJ community and I’m really thankful for that.
iEDM: Lately, you have been on the road, hitting performances non-stop from EDC LV to Seattle. What are some DJ wardrobe essentials you cannot tour without?
JSTJR: I always try to bring some workout clothes and shoes, that way I can catch a quick hotel workout or jog before my sets. It’s not easy to fly across time zones on little-to-no sleep and then play a show and have a ton of energy. Working out, on top of being super good for you, always gives me that boost of energy I need to perform.
iEDM: Do you have any funny stories from your tour so far?
JSTJR: I’ve played a few shows with 4B recently and he is one of my favorite people to tour with. I don’t know where he gets his energy but what you see of him at shows and online is really what he’s like 24/7. We have a ton of fun together.
A funny story recently was him putting an almost-full bottle of tequila in my backpack after a show, so when we went through TSA security the next day, they had to pull me aside. I was like… what? I dont have anything.. And then they pull out this giant bottle of tequila.
iEDM: Reflecting back on playing sets here in Orange County, what is a valuable lesson you have learned for aspiring producer-DJ hybrids?
JSTJR: A lesson from those is that on this path there are always going to be ups and downs. There will be times where you think everything is going against you and times where it feels like you’re on top of the world. It’s important to always remember that when things are low, they will get better. Consistency is what will get you to your goals, not any one “big win” or big moment in your career.
iEDM: You have been incorporating more techno and dubstep elements into your sets, casting a trance-inducing sonic environment for crowds. Will we be getting a tease of any new tracks or projects in the near future?
JSTJR: Yes! I actually posted a little teaser of a new song “bassline” on my instagram after the Observatory show. I have a handful of new songs that are almost ready to come out and a few of them are more techno/hard dance inspired.
I’m just making what is fun for me right now and what i like to play the most. I think it’s making both my sets and my music better. I’m SUPER excited for the next year and to release all this new stuff.
With his meteoric rise, JSTJR is constantly exceeding the bar with his devotion to countless projects while being a full time DJ currently on his Spring/Summer 2023 Tour. Join Group Chat on 6/29 for there one-year anniversary at Academy LA!
Photos courtesy of Blaise Joseph Photography
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