The versatile artist visits for a May 4 workshop at UW-Madison and a May 5 show at Robinia Courtyard. (Photo by Khalid Farqu.)
Dancer, DJ, choreographer and producer Sirr Tmo sees Chicago footwork as a melting pot, an attitude that is readily apparent on the two LPs of original productions he released in April, Silk Road and Yogi’s Retreat. Both releases stay broadly true to footwork’s rapid-fire, stutteringly syncopated interpretation of house music, but Sirr Tmo, real name Reginald Cosper Jr., constantly reaches in other directions across the album’s combined 34 tracks, incorporating elements of dancehall, jungle, gritty techno, even a sample of comedian Tiffany Haddish. One track on Yogi’s Retreat is titled “Future Footwork,” perhaps reflecting Cosper’s determination to aggressively advance his own creative process and the evolution of electronic music writ large.
“Silk Road and Yogi’s Retreat are basically under-produced projects,” Cosper says. “I wouldn’t release it on certain labels. It’s under-produced for them. But for me, and for Bandcamp, it works.'” Rather than aim for the aesthetic or audience a given label has already established, he says, “I’m actually creating the market.”
Cosper first came to footwork as a dancer, and is a member of Chicago’s TekLife crew, founded by the late DJ Rashad. He has spent a good part of his 2019 in Europe, working on a contemporary dance production in Belgium and living for a bit in Liverpool, where he’s found a ripe audience for footwork music. He’ll be visiting Madison for a May 4 production workshop at UW-Madison and a May 5 show at Robinia Courtyard. He also invites anyone who’s interested in collaborating with him while he’s in town to DM him on Instagram.
At the workshop, Cosper plans to help participants get more from his music software program of choice, Ableton Live. “I’m going to show them different processes…I can teach them everything from arrangements to production from a little bit of mixing to a little bit of engineering,” Cosper says. “I want to get them to do something right then and there, recorded. I want to try to get some instruments so they can work on that, put in some samples so they can learn some stretching and sampling techniques, show them some of my effects maybe, how I modulate in Ableton.”
Cosper currently has two new albums of house music in the can, and is about to start working on two more LPs, each for a different label. He’s also starting up a label of his own, and thinking about moving to Europe on a more long-term basis.
The show at Robinia will likely incorporate some music from Silk Road, but could possibly reach across a little bit of everything he’s picked up from across his time in Chicago to his recent weeks in Liverpool.
“Typically I’m being booked for a footwork set,” Cosper says. “I think they’re ready for footwork out there [in Madison],” he laughs. “I may just play all footwork, but it really depends on the energy that I get from the crowd. I might play some old dusties, or I may play some disco or soul or some Afro-house. I’ve got a lot that I’ve been putting in my bag of tricks since I’ve been out here.”