It's always a pleasure to catch up with old friends in L.A.—the sunshine and preponderance of good taco joints makes it difficult not to. But when that old friend happens to be the musician Jake Troth, well, the whole experience takes on a tinge of the sublime. As an artist, he's done everything from jam on Letterman to produce hits for Big Boi and Kylie Minogue; as a man, he's pretty much mastered the art of the classical yo-yo . . . yep, even "Walk the Dog." While paying a visit to the La Brea Guideshop, we caught up with this Renaissance man to talk about his recent album Double Black Diamond. What was supposed to be a trenchant, insightful reflection on post-modern pop paradigms devolved after several cerveza-style beers into this:
EQ: So what's it like playing on Letterman? And what's really in those coffee mugs everyone drinks on talk shows?
JT: Letterman was a dream come true, especially when he said my name. I was nervous, but not about my clothes—that gold blazer looked great on camera. The mugs? That's only for us Letterman alumni to know...
EQ: Intriguing. So what's the strangest or most interesting thing that's ever happened in a recording studio?
JT: I think every single time I'm in a studio, something strange and interesting happens. That's where the best material comes to life. There was a moment in Atlanta when I was surrounded by most of the best hip hop producers to ever come out of that city: DJ Toomp, Jazze Pha, Mr. DJ, Justice League, Sonny Digital, and T.I. They were all in there listening to my music at the same time. It was surreal.
EQ: Speaking of music legends, who are your own biggest musical influences? What songs do you sing in the shower?
JT: The Beatles, David Bowie, Frank Sinatra, Kanye West, and Rick Rubin. I sing whatever song I'm currently writing whilst scrubbing my unmentionables.
EQ: Have there ever been times when you needed a break from music? Or has it always been a constant in your life?
JT: I need a break from music every day. It consumes a lot of my emotion and thought, so I try to focus on painting or writing to take my mind off of unnecessary musical ruminations. The best songs I've ever written were the ones I didn't think about. I try very hard not. to. think. about. music.
EQ: When you are thinking about it, what are the best music venues in L.A.?
JT: The best musical venues in L.A. are house parties. Only there am I free to be myself and directly interact with the audience. There are no time limits or sound barriers. Anything can happen, and I always go home with a huge smile and a new experience afterwards. After that, Hotel Cafe, the Echo, and I've heard the Hollywood Bowl is dope.
EQ: What was the greatest night of your life as a musician?
JT: A couple of years ago, I kicked in the door of a gourmet restaurant in Beverly Hills to sing comedian Jason Mantzoukas "This Is How We Do It" for his 40th birthday. Best gig ever. Every time I see him in the neighborhood, I scream "THIIISSSS IS HOWW WE DOOO ITTTTT!!!!".
EQ: What's a typical day like for you, then?
JT: I could just tell you, but I think this video captures it rather nicely.
Photo of Jake Troth by JUCO Photo