Major Lazer


Written by Johny Chhetri
09 Monday 09th August 2010
Diplo and Switch are the producers behind Major Lazer, the transatlantic dancehall duo who deal in an unholy mix of reggae, dub and hip-hop. We cornered Diplo for an interview ahead of their London show at Notting Hill Carnival, we talk God, zombies and cute girls – just the important stuff.
For those who don’t already know (somehow), could you explain who you are?
This is Diplo from the Mad Decent crew, Florida, Philadelphia, and now LA. I make music. 
How did Major Lazer come into the world?
It’s one of the projects I been working on that actually came up in a concise way. It’s full functioning in its own universe. It’s a dancehall reggae party that dwells in progressive universe full of zombies and vampires and hot girls.
Your live sets are pretty hectic, how do you prepare yourselves for it? Prayer circle? Therapeutic massage sessions?
I pray to my god who is named ZULE - from the top of the empire state building... besides that I’ve been so lucky to have a audience that’s blessed with good taste they are ready to go whichever weird place I can take ‘em most times I got the wrong direction... But every once in a while I rock out and pick up cute girls.
Skerrit Bwoy, is brilliant, he’s quite the entertainer and one of the best daggerers I’ve ever seen. Where did you find him? Doesn’t his body ache from doing all that daggering (especially from off a ladder)?
Skeritt is 90 percent muscle and 10 percent Hennessey. That allows for a lot of momentum and as far as meeting him he was already living in this new universe that Major Lazer is from. It’s sort of half punk rock and half dancehall... and he’s all Bronx which makes him a sort of outsider like me.
Congratulations on the success of your last album, what was the inspiration and concept behind it?
I think the sounds are just what we do as producers, but when it comes to the vision. It’s all 80s Jamaica, dub and ska and everything else digital. King Tubby, Scientist and the great Jamaican visual artist named Luminous who did a lot of the artwork that we were inspired by the Green Sleeves album from the time.
What can we expect from your latest offering?
The EP has only two new songs although big ones. MIA and Busy Signal and a great one drop with Collie Budz that ladies will hopefully like and then we enter the bizarre world with our remixes that range from kicks like a mule, Thom Yorke and Buraka Som Sistema!
The mixtape you did with La Roux was pretty awesome, how did that collaboration come about?
I’m never one to back down from a challenge and I love the vibe of making mixtapes – especially for the summer! So me and Switch got into it. We were actually in Jamaica at the time and we handled this thing, I hope to work with her again on her new record.
Are you hoping to do anymore mixtapes with other artists? I’d love to hear one with... let’s say, Motörhead!
Motörhead would be great but I dunno how much I can offer. I need artists that have a colour palette that I can, you know mix and paint, Motörhead is all black already. But you will see what we can do…
You’re scheduled to play Notting Hill carnival; it’s a pretty special and unique event. Are you ‘pumped’ for it? What do you expect the crowd to be like?
London crowds are already some of the weirdest/most diverse that we play for. I think they get this whole project. Red Bull helps us put on the maddest party (three years running now) and I think this year will be nuts – we have David Rodigan and Lee "Scratch" Perry!
Could you give us a brief outline of the music-making process?
Get some white wine, turn on the computer invite over a friend with drugs and listen to what happened once you wake up.
What are your favourite dancehall tracks?
One of my favourites of this year was 'Hold You' from Gyptian, which we did a mix for. But of all time? I like a lot of reggae, stuff like Toots & the Maytals and Hugh Mundell. But dancehall... I say off the top – 'Memories' by Beenie Man is pretty serious.
Who does the best Jamaican accent between you and Switch?
Both of us do a terrible one that we digress into sometime in the studio and embarrass ourselves. As he is English he is closer – Jamaican patois is just a faster Irish I think.
What are your future plans? Wilder live sets? New mixtapes? New daggering techniques? etc.
New single out before the carnival for the DJs, and lots of productions coming up. You will have to wait and see
Have you got any wise words for the mislead youth of today?
If you’re ever feeling bummed read about Colton Harris Moore.

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