Wajatta — the musical duo of Reggie Watts and John Tejada — return with their second album, “Don’t Let Get You Down”, to be released by Brainfeeder on 28 February 2020. Coming from different worlds, but sharing a passion for the rich history of electronic music, beat-boxer/comedian/musician Watts and electronic music artist/DJ/producer Tejada bring out the best in each other’s formidable skill sets. Where the duo’s debut album “Casual High Technology” hinted at the broad stylistic possibilities inherent in the marriage of Watts’ elastic, soul-stirring vocals and Tejada’s layered, melodically inventive productions, “Don’t Let Get You Down” makes good on that promise.
The first single from new 11-song LP, released today, is the infectious title track. With its brightly pulsing synths and whistling hook, ‘Don’t Let Get You Down’ is, in the words of Reggie Watts, “the poppiest song we’ve ever done.”
Wajatta (pronounced wa-HA-ta) is a mash-up of the artists’ last names. Having grown up with similar musical influences, Austrian-born Tejada and German-born Watts draw from their love of electronic music. Exploring the intersection between influences and innovation, the two describe Wajatta’s music as “electronic dance music with its roots in Detroit techno, Chicago house, ’70s funk and New York hip hop.” It’s a sound that is both familiar and wholly original — and, like all great dance music, ultimately life-affirming, as Watts vocalizes, sometimes without words, the joyful energy of his and Tejada’s funky, shape-shifting productions. “That’s the great thing about working with John,” Watts says with an infectious grin. “He’s so steeped in the history of this music. I just pick up on that and run with it.”
Wajatta builds most tracks from scratch, bouncing ideas off one another from initial spark to finished product. It’s all done face-to-face: “We never just share files,” Tejada notes. They also try to keep their sessions as spontaneous as possible, in a never-ending quest to, as Watts puts it, “capture the freshness.” As a result, the 11 tracks on “Don’t Let Get You Down” crackle with the energy of fresh ideas captured at the moment of inspiration. It’s electronic music made organically, from two masters at the top of their respective games.
Their organic approach extends to their live shows, at which Tejada rebuilds the duo’s tracks on his samplers and synths, while the multi-octave Watts conjures vocal symphonies out of little more than a loop station and a delay pedal. They’ve performed at Movement in Detroit, MUTEK in Montreal, CRSSD Festival in San Diego, two Dirtybird shows (BBQ in 2018 and Campout in 2019), in addition to a live studio session for KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic. The duo’s live energy is captured on the final track of the album ‘All I Need Is You’, a fully improvised song that was part of a spontaneously created 90-minute performance for Club Something at The Sweat Spot, an L.A. dance studio run by choreographer Ryan Heffington. It’s a six-minute snapshot of the improvisational brilliance that lies at the heart of everything Wajatta does — an approach summed up in Watts’ off-the-cuff one-liner near the track’s end: “We’re making everything here for you from scratch — just to ensure maximum freshness.”