'Late Late Show' Bandleader Reggie Watts Unveils New Music
The instrumentalist and James Corden bandleader joins a veteran producer to form Wajatta.
Comedian and musician Reggie Watts has a new single for Wajatta, his new musical side project with producer John Tejada. The duo on Friday dropped their new single "Runnin’" on Comedy Dynamics Records, combining Watt’s improvisational lyrics with Tejada’s layered dance-driven audioscapes.
A mashup of Watts and Tejada’s names, Wajatta will officially release the single next week.
"Runnin'" is a mix of electronic dance with roots in Detroit techno and the Chicago house music scene, infused with '70s funk and soul. Much of Watt's vocals were improvised, showcasing his looping skills and wide range for unique vocal noises and non-words, paying homage to influences like Cocteau Twins singer Elizabeth Fraser.
"She was really the first one that when I heard the music, I was like, 'What language is this in?'” Watts tells Billboard. "She has this weird mixture that oscillates between sounds. I think there's something more interesting about hearing something that sounds kind of close to something else, but you're not sure what it is, until you start to develop your own meaning.”
Nearly all of Watts’ vocals were improvisational, responding live to Tejada's compositions, with Watts saying, "it's hard to find people who like to work like that. I like to freely improvise and rely on John and his sense of curation, and have someone whose tastes I trust.”
Tejada describes Watts' vocals on "Runnin’" as “male house diva,” and while both had concerns about releasing a straightforward music album on a comedy label, Watts says Comedy Dynamics has been supportive of the duo’s vision.
"I've wanted to be involved in some sort of electronic project for a very, very long time — just because it's my favorite music to dance to,” Watts explains.
Watts, who currently is the bandleader on CBS’ The Late Late Show With James Corden, says he had been a fan of Tejada’s music and met him at one of his shows in Los Angeles and eventually teamed with him to record an album in Tejada’s home studio in Sherman Oaks, using loops Watts created for Lot Radio Brooklyn. Tejada is a Vienna-born, Los Angeles-based electronic music composer and in-demand remixer for The Postal Service, Bomb the Bass and Télépopmusic.
"I have so many loops stored and we pulled them in that session, picking and choosing,” Watts says. "And then he went in and really attacked it, and I just laid down a bunch of random vocals.” Watts adds that he and Tejada had a similar creative process, working quickly, "being able to just flow what was in my head in response to his music and him locking onto that and crafting something great around/with it.”
Watts says he is "so excited to finally release music that I think will inspire people to move and expand on the dance floor or groove in their headphones."
The music is a progression for Watts, whose 2017 Netflix special Spatial was called “a giddy rush of escapist nonsense” by The New York Times, which dubbed him “the most influential absurdist in comedy today.”
Watts has performed at the Bonnaroo, SXSW, Bumbershoot, Just for Laughs and Pemberton fests and recently finished a 70-episode run as co-host opposite Scott Aukerman on the critically acclaimed IFC variety series Comedy Bang! Bang! He also co-starred alongside Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and Skylar Astin in the Universal musical comedy Pitch Perfect 2, which garnered over $287 million at the global box office.
This article first appeared on Billboard.com.