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Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008

Loose Change: Tittsworth’s Dirty Billin

Plus: Sims makes Milwaukee debut

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If Tittsworth was a cartoon character, he could be a blinged-out, globe-trotting pimp sporting a five o’clock shadow. In actuality, only the globe-trotting part is true, as Tittsworth has emerged as a turntablist who turns his own tricks on a dime. The D.C. native seamlessly blends club, rock, rave, hip-hop and house into a high-energy set that has sent him across the globe, including a regular spot at London’s Fabric. With eight club records already released, along with the mega mix CD Ayres ’n’ Titties (Money Studies), Tittsworth spoke with Club Noise about the Baltimore club scene, crunk and one night in Bangkok that was hardly humble.

You are originally from the East Coast. How has the scene out there shaped your sound ... or have you, in fact, shaped it?

I lived in half-a-dozen cities across the planet before I was in the fourth grade. The D.C./M.D. area is the only place I’ve spent more than a year or so in, and I have lived in that area for around 15 years now. During this time, I was widely influenced by Baltimore’s club, D.C.’s go-go, Dischord [Records] and other D.C./M.D.-based indie bands, the rave scene, etc. It’s an honor to be able to contribute to such an influential genre and I try to be very conscious of my role in all of this.

Do you hate being confined by labels/genres?

The people that are unfamiliar with what I do find it easier to lump me into a category—whether hipster, club or mash-up. It’s an easy classification to make and becomes easy to hate on, especially when there are countless upand-coming cats that aren’t doing it well. It makes the whole thing look very dime-a-dozen, but by the same token, I’m glad kids are into it and are at least trying. I think it’s up to us to raise the bar, though, and step the quality control up.

Do you strictly work off decks or do you use other devices (laptop, Serato, etc.)? How would mix-up hardware impact your show?

I DJ off of Serato, preferably with Tech 12’s and a Pioneer 800. I also use Reason and Nuendo to write most of my music, so software plays a big role in what I do. Hardware plays an important role in the sense that I learned on it, so jumping to software I think I still make sure to input a live feel to what I do. Also I’m not afraid to turn off quantizing and physically beat in drums or grab the record and scratch a bit.

Do you think crunk is getting too crunk?

It took me a while to open up to crunk, I guess for a lot of the same reasons why some people hate on club... or any genre for that matter. I think it’s a really energetic, raw genre (similar to club) and for those reasons I do enjoy dropping a crunk joint here and there. Having said that, I think it could be time to revisit where we’ve been with that genre and look to moving forward.

Hottest party vibe you played in the past six months. Go.

Club 808 opening night in Bangkok was pretty serious. The promoters took a pretty big gamble bringing a relatively new sound into Thailand and it went over huge. Eight hundred screaming Thai cats just begging for bass and big synth builds. Beijing was also really dope. About half the numbers of Bangkok (still packed, just smaller venue), but no shorts on the energy or vibe. Amazing reception, which meant a lot to me, especially being half Chinese.

People who never heard you in Milwaukee ... what are they getting?

I mix fast as hell and I play any and everything under the sun, from Nirvana to Debbie Gibson. Expect tons of guilty pleasures you’re afraid to admit liking (until you’re drunk) and a bunch of bass-heavy bangers you didn’t know you’d like.

Tittsworth performs on Friday, Feb. 22, at Moct (240 E. Pittsburgh Ave.). Faraz Farzam and Jude Raw open the show. Music 9 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Cover charge: $5

Simply Sims: Outlawed Productions honcho Chris Grant has been working to bring top-caliber electronic talent to Milwaukee’s scene at a new venue. Since New Year’s Eve, the DJ-cum-promoter has looked to a three-level venue on the city’s South Side to book the likes of Frankie Bones, and now, U.K. techno specialist Ben Sims.

The venue, Liquor Sweets (3000 S. 13th St.), attracted about 260 people to the Bones show, Grant says; now he’s hoping for a repeat performance to keep the night going in Milwaukee. Sims’ high profile should help. With a diverse music background that spans from reggae and rock to house and techno, Sims has taken influences from Detroit legend Kevin Saunderson, taking his sets on a hard, fast drive through the night.

Ben Sims performs on Friday, Feb. 15, at Liquor Sweets. Music 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Cover charge: $7 before 10:30 p.m., $10 after.

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