Beats, Bourbon and Bluegrass: An Interview with Wattie Green


wattie 2Born in a meth lab deep in the hills of Tennessee, Wattie Green was found and raised by a pack of coyotes; one of which only had three legs.  Wattie later took up with a band of nomadic gypsies who formed a band and made their living selling magic tonics and some taxidermy on the side. After a falling out with the gypsies, Wattie staged a rebellion and fled in order to single-handedly create the EDM subgenre of “Cave-Rave.” Dj’ing since ’99 and producing since 2004, this spelunking, multi-instrument playing, jazzy swing house producing phenom moves the crowd wherever he goes. Wattie’s vinyl and digital releases on Flapjack, Spatula City, Juiced, Knocturnal Emissions, Serial Sickness, Funk Mansion and Coyote Cuts have topped the charts of Stompy and Traxsource. Come check out how he has redefined the swing house sound with his nuskool/oldskool jackin’ feel.

You can catch Wattie at RISE this Friday, or at his residency on Tuesday afternoons at 2:15 p.m. at the Golden Years Retirement Community, where he always keeps the dance floor jumpin’…
Recently I spoke to Wattie Green about everything from Bluegrass to turntables to the Debt Ceiling debate, and wanted to pass along the pearls of wisdom I was lucky enough to have bestowed upon me.

Mojo/AF: So, what kind of stuff did you listen to growing up as a kid?  What was the first tape/CD you ever bought?

WG: My dad played music. He had a bluegrass band and I liked that stuff.  I also liked classic rock and Motown. My mom’s from Detroit and bought all these Michael Jackson records and Motown music.

I started playing guitar at 10 or 11. I played early alternative rock stuff like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Sonic Youth was a big thing for me; different kinds of punk rock, commercial punk stuff like Bad Religion and Butthole Surfers…  Then at 14 I started going to parties with a fake ID.

AF: How did you first get into “electronic” or house music?

WG: Going to underground shows in Nashville, Memphis and Atlanta as an early teenager. They would be featuring Chicago house djs and drum and bass stuff from the east coast, and some west coast.  Paul Johnson Derrick Carter, strictly Jazz Unit Crew like Vic Lavender, Glen Underground; and at that time, it’s embarrassing to say now, but Bad Boy Bill and Humpty Vision– that was hot shit in ’97 and ’98.  Terry Mullin, DJ Dan– these people were all at parties that I was trying to sneak into. People like Farina, Sneak and Carter, frequented Nashville, Atlanta and Memphis … around 99. We’d go all the time on weekends, missed a lot of school…

I first got turntables when I was 15….I got them for Christmas and had those until I was 18, and I convinced my parents to use a small college fund on Technics at 18 and I still have them. That’s basically all I have.

AF: What was the first track you ever made?

WG: In 2009 I finally released some stuff.  I’d been trying to make tracks for 4 or 5 years but wanted someone to release them on vinyl, but most of the people I sent stuff to were not willing to do vinyl.  But,  eventually Frankie J agreed to release Sea Lion Woman on Flapjack. I made some tracks for Juiced Music in 2009 and 2010 I gave them several tracks. Flapjack and Spatula City and Juiced Music in 2009 and 201 were my first releases… I was the 2nd release on Flapjack.  (A.F. sidenote to readers.  This blows my mind and I have to take a moment to collect myself and get my breathing under control again, as this is a huge fucking deal….)

Wattie

AF: Do you keep up with the “latest charts” on Traxsource and Beatport and the like?  How do you stay current on what’s coming out, or do you; and do you use those as any sort of guideline when you’re making new tracks, or do you just not care and do your own thing?

WG: As a DJ I’m supposed to, but I really do not.  I don’t keep up.  Every now and then I go through the top 10 or go to the Jackin’ top 10, and be like “I know that guy”, or I already have it or I ask them to send it to me… I only play stuff that people send me. I don’t pay attention to those websites… I play them when I get promos, but most of the good stuff that is top 20 in the genre I get most of it already, People are putting out stuff I love, but I hit them up and ask them….”Here’s my new thing, let me get that one thing.”  I really don’t keep up with all that stuff, I’m lucky if I get on line for 20 min every day… I am blessed that people send me promos… The only stuff I play live is the stuff people send me or stuff that I’ve made.

Wattie Green’s Beatport page

Wattie Green’s Traxsource Page.

AF: So what’s up with this cave stuff?

WG: Actually – me and my grandfather and my father, our pastime was to hunt for arrowheads…this was in Paris Tennessee, there is this land between lakes and between the rivers, and we’d find cave openings while hunting for arrowheads.  In middle Tennessee, we have some of the largest concentrations of caves in the US. I took up caving and repelling, well it’s been over 10 years that I’ve been doing that.  I’ve been members of caving grounds, it’s a big hobby of mine.  There are about 400 different caves I’ve been to.  I’m a member of Tennessee Cave Survey, Georgia Conservancy and Alabama Cave Survey. I am in this group of people who take notes and when they find caves they turn in coordinates and map them; it’s a big thing where I live.  A couple times of year we get together and share new information and digital information about new caves found, There are 11,000 caves in TN alone; they have more than any other state in the US.  So, it’s not only like a family tradition, a lot of my friends and I did that straight out of high school as a big hobby. I grew up in west Tenn.  there aren’t any caves there, but my grandparents were from Paris, and that’s where the caves start and we’d go canoeing down rivers and look for arrowheads and I went out on my own and took my friends and it was our hobby. There are lots of caving groups in upper Cumberland grotto, in the college town I live in.  I don’t do it as much as I used to, but usually when I do, it is revisiting things….so yeah, it’s been a family tradition and one of my major hobbies. (WATTIE:

AF: If you had to go spelunking with any people from history, musicians, actors, artists, etc., which 3 would you choose?

WG: You, Thomas Barr, who wrote the original book Caves of Tennessee in 1961 and Hunter S. Thompson, Robert Anton Wilson.

AF: What inspires you to make new tracks? Is it methodical and pragmatic for you, or do you just kind of go with the flow and create as it comes to you?

WG: I just spend time digging through old music, researching who, or what guy from this genre jazz or disco or whatever, search for other people like them, dig through old music, find something that lends itself to house music then I use it. I spend time researching and learning about old jazz, funk and disco music and when I run across something that lends itself to house; I try to work it in.  The library of Congress Recordings from the 20’s-60’s have been a giant influence to me… Alan Lomax is a big influence to me; one of the first people to do field recordings for Library of Congress.  Anything from jazz to bluegrass, the type of stuff I do is directly motivated and influenced by super old stuff I come across digging through old obscure things from folk to blues to jazz to funk and disco.  I try to go back and do something better that’s already been done.  I have a lot of respect for people who can make house music without using any samples from old music.  The main things people know from me and that I’ve had the best results with, it’s from is digging through old house, disco and funk music.

AF: Coolest show/venue you’ve ever played?

WG: Earlier this year in San Francisco at the Monarch with Mark Farina…this place was giant and packed and I got to rock…The Smart Bar in Chicago last year with Frankie J .and the dude that owns Gramaphone and South of Roosevelt. playing Bonnaroo, guitar on the street outside the big stages and bass…  and it’s like right down the street from my house….

AF: Place you’ve never been/played but really want to?

WG: I’ve never played anywhere in the pacific northwest .  Seattle or Portland or Eugene…

AF: Your biggest musical influences.  Name as many as you want.

WG: Derrick Carter, Sneak, Paul Johnson, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Joe Sample, Rhodes piano players, Wes Montgomery, Django Reinhardt

AF: If you could play a show with anyone, who would it be?

WG: Miley Cyrus. Well….(I laugh hysterically) I’ve gotten to play with most of the people I wanted to… I’ve played with Sonny, Mes, MarkFarina, Sneak….   so Daft Punk or Basement Jaxx or Green Velvet or Cajmere….

AF: Wild Turkey, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam or Makers Mark?

WG: Yes please…   (Wild Turkey).

AF: What’s up with the debt ceiling debate?

WG: During the government shut down, the only national park in TN was closed down and that sucked…I would rather not speak on that.

AF: What’s up with Obama care?

WG: I have no idea; I don’t know what to say about the debt and I don’t even know what you just said.

AF: Is there any track or record you’ve done that you’re MOST proud of or that means the most to you?

WG: I used to ghostwrite for Jodeci but they never gave me any royalties and we don’t speak anymore,  I also was an original member of Menudo, but due to personal differences we don’t talk anymore. I guess the ones I put out on vinyl with Flapjack and Spatula City.

(AF Note to readers:  At this point I was laughing so hard I almost peed on myself)

 Soundcloud

AF: Someone you haven’t ever seen perform, but really want to; name up to 3.

WG: Project Pat, Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx.

AF: Three artists/djs/producers who are rocking your world right now; doesn’t have to be “new” and doesn’t have to be any specific genre.

WG: Mark Funk, my young buddies from Philly: Maggs Bruchez, Oh and Geraldine.

Wattie and Geraldine in Detroit at The Works the night before DEMF...like 3 years ago or so?

Wattie and Geraldine in Detroit at The Works the night before DEMF…like 3 years ago or so?

AF: If you could take private lessons, on any instrument, from any musician–past or present–who would it be and what instrument?

WG: I’d want to take banjo lessons from Earl Scruggs

AF: Anything to tell the people as to what they can expect from your show at RISE?

WG: Expect to see me get half way drunk, and then completely drunk afterward. Yeah, I’ll be playing my stuff and playing stuff from labels I’ve been on, the labels I’d like to be on. Expect jazzy funky disco house music; that’s what I do.

One of my favorite Wattie Green tracks, “We Can Funk”  

See you at 247 Skybar this Friday night 10:00 p.m.-3:00 a.m.  Don’t miss this monumental night!