Jamie Sitter, aka J. Worra, produces feel-good techno-house designed for the dance floor. Already with releases on Deadmau5’s label and a Coachella set under her belt, she’s still rising. Far from superficial, J. Worra’s tracks are intimate and form a much-needed supportive space for LGBTQ+ youth. Always open for a conversation, today she shares concepts behind her tracks and her personal journey to ‘coming out’ with us.
Her hyper beats transport us to the Los Angeles beachfront, but her journey there has been one of necessity to express her identity rather than leisure. From a childhood in a small conservative town in America to making it in the big city, Jamie is confidently forging both her personal and artistic identity and nobody is getting in her way.
Producing a feel-good atmosphere is key to your releases and sets. Do you aim to create a safe space through music that maybe you didn’t have growing up in a small conservative town?
This might be one of the best interview questions I have ever had. It is very important for me to create not just a safe, inclusive space, but also one that makes people feel like they belong right where they are, in the skin they are in. My journey has shown me the importance of those moments; they may seem small but they can completely change the course someone is on. That’s why I take the time to connect with fans, to give away tickets to shows and festivals I am playing, and respond to emails and DMs. The impact I want to have doesn’t stop when the lights come on at the club. 
How would you describe the Los Angeles house music scene?
Los Angeles is unique because so many incredible artists live here. You can draw from so much inspiration, right in your backyard, and you have the ability to really get to know some of them and build friendships. There is some kind of show every night of the week, and thanks to the diversity of promoters, you can see huge acts that come from all over the world playing in more intimate environments, experimenting and maybe showing a side of their artistry they can’t let out all the time. It is a special place for music.
Speaking to Mixmag, you mention the crowd inspires you to be your authentic self. Would you like to share some anecdotes?
I don’t think the people who follow me really realize how much they do for me, for my personal life and my life as an artist. I do not necessarily have a story to showcase here but I will use this as an opportunity to say that I feel incredibly empowered by the support I get from my fans. They are open to the different directions I take some of my music, and I write my music in a very expressive way based on how I am feeling or what I am going through. I appreciate that openness and them letting me be me at all times, in all capacities.
Recent release On the Run seems to reflect on avoidance of emotional intimacy, something that I’d call a symptom of our modern condition – immersed in endless dating apps and money –driven careers that leave no space for long-lasting connections. Did this criticism come to mind when writing with Kaleena Zanders and Venessa Michaels?
When we were writing this one, I think we all were pulling from different emotions. I had semi-recently ended a long-term relationship in which I felt I had pushed her away and, I guess you can say ran. For me, the way the song panned out was very reflective of a hard lesson I had to learn for myself. I actually went on to write a few other tracks, kind of outside the house vein, as a way to try and cope with those not so fun lessons. PS: those tracks will never see the light of day (laughs).
Do you have other collaborations planned with them?
Nothing planned as of now but we have talked about a follow-up track. They are both incredibly talented, probably two of the best in their lanes, and have been working on additional music together so I would keep an eye on them.
Ride or Cry, released with Deadmau5’s label mau5trap, similar to earlier release Modern Medicine, alludes to escapism through drugs and/or electronica. Can you explain the concept more?
Both of those feature vocals from Dance With White Girls, who is an amazingly talented DJ/producer/vocalist. When I work with him, I really just let him do his thing. I can’t speak for his vision when writing vocals but I will tell you this: he was hit by a car while he was standing on a sidewalk in Downtown LA several years ago. He took the natural route to healing and chose cannabis over prescription painkillers, so my guess is his vocal writing is reflective of his journey. Using cannabis and music for healing and escapism from some of those struggles. It also says a lot about an artist when they can consistently write catchy, memorable vocals. This guy has hits on top of hits!
We were told you support LGBTQ youth charities. What sort of role do you have in this?
Over the years, I have done my best to get involved with charities that support LGBTQ youth. Since my time is limited right now and I haven’t had the chance to execute some of the plans I have, most of the support has been donations. I had the opportunity to speak on a panel a few years ago, which was amazing. The audience was made up of youth that had not been accepted by important people in their lives. Some were homeless and some were living a lie to keep peace.
I think about this topic a lot and how I can do more to help. I’ve made a list of charities in Los Angeles and other cities around the country and I have plans to support them in the future around a tour idea. I really look forward to being able to shed light and play an active role in organizations that help LGBTQ youth. There are far too many that are on the streets, depressed, or even taking their own life because they don’t feel accepted.
“It is very important for me to create not just a safe, inclusive space, but also one that makes people feel like they belong right where they are.”
Did ‘coming out’ influence you as an artist – to be freer with compositions or more at ease behind the decks, knowing you are being open with your identity?
Coming out helped me indirectly as an artist. Being vocal about who I am allowed me to be happier as a person. It also is really exhausting to hide something so significant. I spent many years trying to avoid the fact that I am gay, or trying to cut it out of my life. People would ask if I had a boyfriend and I would say, ‘no, I am too busy for that’, even if I had a girlfriend. It is even painful to think about because the struggles I had impacted not just me but people I loved, people I dated. However, now I am able to use my platform to showcase who I am and set the tone for others who may be struggling.
Following an impressive run of festival spots last year, where will 2019 be taking you?
I have a badass team behind me. My agent, Chad Cohen at UTA, is always on the grind and he is to thank for the platform I had with shows last year. It was incredible exposure for me and helped me catch a lot of people’s attention. This year, I am planning to keep everyone’s attention through my releases. My biggest goal of 2019 is to show people who I am as a producer, the different sides to my sound and how I have evolved over the years. I also have to give a shoutout to my manager, Tom Williams, who has helped guide me on for the last three years or so. It is crazy how much goes into ‘making it’ or being able to have a career in music. I am very thankful to those who support my dream day after day.
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