This past Sunday, Dirtybird legend and Anabatic label-head, Worthy, sat down with us before playing his epic late night set at the Dragon’s Den. Worthy walked us through first meeting Justin Martin, the backstory of his exciting “One on One” Tour, and his own eclectic musical favorites. Worthy is currently in the middle of his nationwide “One on One” Tour in which he brings a different artist to each stop. If you get a chance to catch Worthy on this tour, you will be in for a funky bassy-house party!
What is so special about this “One on One” Tour? Tell us what bringing a new artist on each stop brings to your tour?
Worthy: Well, it’s just like this really cool idea that we came up with, like my booking agent, John, and my wife…we were all just sitting down at a meal, trying to come up with some different way to, ya know, do a different tour that would catch on in a different way. So the idea came up…we were like we’ll do a different artist with you in every city and I’m interviewing every artist myself on top of that so that’s like the Worthy “One on One.” And, then I’m here playing in the city “one on one” with each artist.
Yeah so I just started asking all of my DJ friends like, “hey would you want to do a date with me?” And I told ‘em all the idea behind it and everybody seemed like super down for it. Most people worked out. Some people the timing wasn’t exactly right so…so I’m just really excited about everyone that we have gotten to do it so far. This whole weekend has been awesome. The first two dates have been great.
It’s a huge tour–a bunch of places and a bunch of different dates. How do you keep it fresh and new at all of those different locations?
I’m just gonna keep trying to bring some new music. And I’m sure….one thing that’s definitely going to keep it fresh is that I’m playing with a lot of artists who play in so many different styles. I think playing with some more House-y guys, so that’s probably going to be a little more House. With the Techno guys, that’s probably going to be a bit more Techno.
And, ya know, last night I played with Stanton Warriors and playing more Breakbeats than I normally do. So I think it’s kinda cool that the artists that I’m playing with are going to, ya know, change the way that I play each set a little bit.
Yeah, and it’s great for fans, I’m sure, to get to see artists who do adapt to the different styles and different guest performers. It’s great to see people who let each location feed whatever it is that they’re doing. So, with that said, do you have any stops in particular that you’re excited for?
Well, this whole weekend (in New Orleans) I was really excited for. And I think that next weekend in Chicago is going to be really fun… Salt Lake City with Justin Martin, I think that’s going to be really fun. I’ve never played in Salt Lake City before and it’s like a Thursday night, so I’m interested to see how that one goes. Just because I’ve never been to that city.
What are some collaborations or releases you have coming up?
I have one coming up with Gerry Gonza who is a new up comer. He was part of this group Thee Cool Cats and he’s kinda broken off and gone off on his own.
You’re originally from D.C. How did you end up in San Francisco linked up with the Dirtybird Crew?
Well, Justin and I went to college together in New York City, at Fordham University for 2 years. And then he switched out there about halfway through…like 2 years in New York and finished his degree up in San Francisco. Justin was just like “you gotta come out here,” after I had finished up at Fordham. And I went back to D.C. and I was not loving it. I was just like, “this is too much like high school,” and I wanted something different so I went out there. And then I met Christian and met Claude and we all decided to start the Dirtybird party.
That’s how it started, right? It was just a party, an event you guys were doing and then it became the brand and everything that it is. Did you know back then that it was going to be as big as it ended up being?
No! It still blows my mind every year. It seems like it gets bigger and bigger.
Do you think that techno is making a comeback? A rebirth? How do you see it? Who do you think have been spearheading this?
I don’t know. It’s so hard to say if it’s a rebirth or if it’s…I feel like…I think it’s just always been on this trajectory and it’s just like…it’s just there. Techno and house music. It hasn’t gone away. It’s never disappeared. It’s not like other crazy fads that have come and gone. Like, Jungle was really big and that’s gone down. I just feel like House music has always been big. It’s never gone down. It’s never reallyyyy gone up. It’s just always there.
So do you think it’s just getting more consistent attention now? Or do you see more artists getting into it?
I think there are more fans now just because finally electronic music broke into the States. So now there are just more people listening to electronic music. Ya know, I go on the radio and listen and think “wow this is House music” and I’m listening to the Top 40 stuff. I’m like “this is crazy. I like this beat.” And 5-10 years ago, ya know, I like hated everything in the Top 40…It came out of the underground but it’s definitely not underground anymore.
How do you think San Francisco, and California in general, have pioneered this movement? Do you think it did? Do you think you guys [referring to Dirtybird] really did play a part?
Well, San Francisco definitely is a really special place for the growth of what Dirtybird was, like…I don’t think we could have created the party if we weren’t in San Francisco. I don’t know why…they were just really lenient about like party permits when we were coming up. We were able to make this amazing party out of nothing and not have to spend tons of money. In other cities…you never could have done that in New York. Maybe you could have done that in LA….or on the outskirts of some of these cities. Somehow San Francisco was just an anomaly.
Yeah, it was just really lucky. I just look back…and I see some other people starting to do little parties here and there but, ya know, the way that we did it…it just worked somehow. It was the perfect time for us to make that party.
All four of us [Justin Martin, Christian Martin, and Claude Von Stroke] were just super passionate about music and…surrounded by people who were just as passionate. And everyone just kept pushing each other. We just pushed each other and became better musicians because of it.
Do you feel like it is continuing to spread all over the country? Do you still think it’s becoming bigger and bigger?
I always have a hard time figuring out where it is like right at this moment. I feel like 2 years ago it was so popular, with like Disclosure popping up. And they got so popular so I thought everyone was like “wow. This is a house music band that’s humongous.” And now they’re one of the biggest groups out there. So at this point, I don’t know where exactly it is. It’s not going down. It’s maybe going up. I don’t know…. People are still making amazing music and inspiring me, so there’s no lack of creativity within the scene.
What are some things you’re looking forward to in 2017?
Wow, I don’t even know ‘cause I’ve been so focused on getting this tour together that I don’t even know. So I haven’t really thought about the rest of the year so much. I’m already thinking like “what am I going to do once this tour is over?” Well, I’ll get to work on music again after this tour is over so that’s going to be awesome.
I’m sitting on a whole bunch of music. I really need to get that out. I have like a Disco track that is going to…or I think it’s going to come out on Defective so I’m trying to get on this Defective EP. I have a new EP coming out on Strangelove which is a Toolroom sublabel that they’re creating. I think the first 3 or 4 is like me, Walker & Royce, and…I can’t remember somebody else who is on there as well. So it’s a really cool new label that’s about to pop off.
Where is somewhere we HAVE to check out while in San Francisco?
People should hit up clubs like Monarch, the Great Northeran, Audio, Mezzanin for the Dirtybird Quarterly, obviously.
Who are artists these days–electronic or not electronic–who have excited you or inspired you? Or even who you just like to vibe to in the car?
Well, I saw like Rufus for the first time and they’re really cool. And I really like their music. I just got to meet those guys last weekend too. They’re all super nice. We have mutual friends, Yolanda Be Cool. Other than that…I’m like horrible with remembering names…let me think. I don’t know…I like Bruno Mars. It’s a little bit of a rip off of a lot of music, but it works. It’s just super catchy. It sounds like old 80’s songs, but it works.
Have you been to New Orleans before? What is something you want to do while you’re here?
Yeah, I’ve played Church before. Last time I was here…I had my bachelor party here. We were at a restaurant and a lady was just like “come back here” and she took us back to where this band was playing. It was pretty cool.
Listen to Worthy’s latest guest mix below and pick up tickets a One on One date near you.
[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/303137773″ params=”color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Photo: Whitney Tucker