The wait is over, the time for getting down is now.
Video directed by Angie Scarpa, all photos by Rommel Alcantara

Wajatta: KCRW Live from HQ

Intimate performances, fresh sounds, and candid conversations with a view.

Cancel your Peloton class and lock into this deep, improvisatory, and motivational as hell Wajatta rave — comin’ atcha Live From KCRW’s Annenberg Performance Studio. The pairing of LA techno-house maestro John Tejada, known for his world-building musical precision (dating back to the mid-1990s), with absurdist sonic comedian Reggie Watts might not seem an obvious combo at first. But all it takes is one spin of their debut 2018 single “Runnin’” to get in sync with their chemistry. Tejada’s expansive dance music palette gives way to rich soundscapes for Watts to work his lyrical magic, ranging from comedic to cosmic.

More: John Tejada KCRW Guest Mix (2016)

The duo returned in 2023 with Waiting For The Get Down, featuring a dancefloor pulse that hovers around 130 bpm and Watts serving up similar workouts for the mind: humorous musings on the nature of existence, modern life, presence, and the future.

It’s a knockout record, but Wajatt’s storied live performances have been few and far between — which makes their nearly hour-long live set for KCRW a real treat to be savored. Enjoy cuts from throughout their catalog, like 2021 single “Don’t Let Get You Down,” current jam “Again and Again,” and (of course) “Runnin’.” Each version is tailored for this performance and this performance only. Tejada stays in the mix, making the whole endeavor feel like a seamless track, while Watts riffs, scats, unveils a pitch perfect “radio voice,” and offers vital words of wisdom like, “use your turn signals.” When you’re ready for the cool down, read and watch on for the interview, where Watts and Tejada give FREAKS ONLY host Travis Holcombe the full backstory behind their collaboration and share how they keep it creative. 

More: KCRW’s Straight from the heart: a romantic adventure with Reggie Watts (2017)

The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Travis Holcombe: How did this creative collaboration begin?

Reggie Watts: In the club.

John Tejada: Yeah, Reggie came to a show. But actually, we have a lot of mutual friends. Every once in a while one of [Reggie’s] friends would say, “Hey, Reggie, wants your number.” But it didn’t [ever happen that way], we just had to meet in person. So it was just kind of meant to be because we have so many mutual friends that we're both really close with. Eventually we ended up in the same room and then yeah, it just had to happen. But it took a little while before [we released any music]. We weren't in a rush… or we didn't think anybody wanted to hear it.

Watts:  When I was living in Williamsburg, my ex girlfriend was really into techno and introduced me to John's music. I fell in love with it and then when I came to LA, I always thought John lived in some palace or something… and got, like, government funding from Austria or something like that. I imagined him as this really intense, very serious guy. And then And then I met him [one night when he was] spinning and I didn't really know what he looked like … And then he played an insane set, I had a fun time dancing, and it was a really cool club night. And then we slowly, kind of tepidly started saying we wanted to do something. But we were friends first. I was afraid to ask him to do something because I thought it was tacky.

Once you did finally start working together, was there a lot of creative tension? I imagine John as being very precise with his productions, almost wielding a jeweler's loupe. And Reggie conjures magic out of thin air. How do you find that middle ground for the working relationship?

Watts: It was super easy. Because my dream of how I like to make projects is [that I]  think of it as being an F1 race car driver. It's like, I'm just the driver, so I show up and there's a team that's there, but I just put on the helmet, get in the car, and drive it. 

So when I went into the studio with John, I was like, “I just like to improvise.” He was like, “sure.” And then we had a skeleton of a song and I did something over it. That was one track, then we did another track, and then another track exactly the same way. [We] probably made three tracks in like 45 minutes.

Tejada: He comes and drives the car. Then he leaves and someone's building the car for the next race for seven to… 30 days [laughs]. But yeah, it just works that way. Also, he was saying he knew of my stuff, I knew his stuff as well. When we talked about doing this, it was just kind of obvious how it would work. Let's just put exactly what we do together. That's a collaboration, right? But sometimes it's easier said than done.

So what do you think is the secret to successful creative collaboration?

Watts: The music can go in a bunch of different areas. I think on every release, we always push something, there's some new angle, or the music gets a little bit clearer in some cases — at least for what I add. So that's always evolving, but the [basic] formula is: Showing up at John's house, John mixes magical John Coffee, I drink the coffee drink, we hang out, I'm holding a microphone, [and then] it's like, “oh, this is kind of working and oh cool, maybe add this… and then it’s like, ok great, I'll see you later.” But yeah, I think that's kind of it. I think we just don't mess with it.


KCRW Music Director: Anne Litt
Interviewer: Travis Holcombe
Director/Editor/Colorist: Angie Scarpa
Directors of Photography: Kylie Hazzard and Matt Smith
Camera operators: Kylie Hazzard, Angie Scarpa, Matt Smith
Recording / Mix Engineer: Hope Brush
Assistant Engineer: John Meek
Executive Producer/Broadcast Producer: Ariana Morgenstern
Producers: Anna Chang and Liv Surnow
Digital Producer: Marion Hodges
Digital Editorial Manager: Andrea Domanick
Lighting Design: Jason Groman
Art Director: Evan Solano

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