TJR Gets Funky in Las Vegas
The producer behind Pitbull’s “Don’t Stop The Party” goes to America’s party capital with Calvin Harris.
Even your mother has heard of TJR. His track “Funky Vodka” got reworked by Pitbull as “Don’t Stop The Party” and became an international hit that gets played everywhere from major league baseball games to high school dances to “Today” show interludes. This summer, the L.A.-based producer (full name T.J. Rozdilsky) has been spending time with another chart-topper, Calvin Harris, who he joins regularly now at Hakkasan Las Vegas for several of Harris’s residency dates.
His next visit to Sin City’s megalith nightclub is this weekend (August 24), where he’ll be armed with his now-standby hits as well as his new tune, “What’s Up Suckaz,” out now on Chris Lake’s Rising Music.
While “Funky Vodka,” like his new track, is undoubtedly a party tune, it was actually born from the embers of heartbreak, long before Pitbull picked it up.
“I was going through a breakup and I was all heartbroken and stuff,” TJR says. “I met this girl and we were talking about music and she was like, ‘you gotta hear Toots & the Maytals’ - to help my mood out. So I went home and listened to ‘Funky Kingston’ and I was blown away.”
The reggae classic became the main sample used in “Funky Vodka,” a track he finished in 2011 after a few years of playing with it. Because the Toots & the Maytals catalog was held by Universal, that label’s London Records imprint quickly caught wind of TJR’s track when it went No. 1 on Beatport in March of 2012.
“They wanted to put it out on the mainstream market but there needed to be a topline on the song,” Rozdilsky explains of his song’s journey to Pitbull. “They approached Pitbull in May  when he was doing his European tour on like, a Thursday and I got his a capella and chorus back on Saturday of that week. That’s how fast it was.”
In an unusual move, Pitbull kept TJR on the record as a featured artist, which helped lift the then-up-and-coming producer’s profile. Within a year of “Funky Vodka’s” success in the underground, TJR was part of a bonafide hit: “Don’t Stop The Party” reached no. 17 on the Hot 100 and was certified platinum. Now Rozdilsky is rubbing elbows with another platinum hit-maker in Vegas, at a venue he now says feels like home.
"I was a bit intimidated playing at Hakkasan at first because it's so intense,” Rozdilsky says of his first time playing with Harris. “I thought it was ladies night ‘cause I've never seen so many girls in a club before. Calvin's pull is quite impressive.”