News__ Q+A with Diplo

June 11, 2012 | By

Diplo talks about his differences with Santigold, Major Lazer tattoos and his headache

Interview: Zoy Britton

Sweat drips down my back in my attempts to get the perfect shot of Diplo DJing on the main stage at the Fifth Annual Roots Picnic held in Philadelphia, PA this past weekend. This year marked the Picnic’s 5th’ anniversary and featured a plethora of hip- hop, indie and electronica artists like Danny Brown, De La Soul, Mos Def, Shabazz Palaces and Flostradamus (to name a few of our personal favorites). In proper form, the annual 2 day celebration of amazing music jumped off with a bang--and a rowdy crowd.

As all 60 inches of me perch precariously atop a barricade, I can feel jailbait music fans pinching the hell out of my as,s to the rhythm of the girls twerking on stage. After a few minutes of sexual harassment, I attempt to throw a few well-placed bows at their disrespectful faces while maintaining my photo hustle. And all of this preceded the freak thunderstorm that sent Diplo’s solo DJ set to the humid, flooded gas chamber of a tent complete with a perpetual parade of salty sweatdrops flung upon the unsuspecting lens of my camera.

The undulating crowd ravenously bumps to Diplo’s DJ set which included some songs from Major Lazer’s upcoming album (album title TBA) including “Get Free” featuring Dirty Projector’s Amber Coffman and the lead single “Original Don.” The album, which is set to drop this fall, will feature everyone from Beanie Man to Sean Paul and Vampire Weekend. Of course, no trill DJ set would be complete without some Waka drops, which only serve to send the hypebeast of a crowd into rhythmic tailspins. After about 5 minutes of getting jostled by Season 500 of Teen Mom, I got the hell out of there and hightailed it to Major Lazer’s trailer to wait for my interview.

Finally, a sweat- drenched Diplo arrives. After standing in a corner of his trailer for 20 minutes, awkwardly (not) watching him eat, he finally approaches me “You wanted an interview or something, right?”

“Yeah, 10 minutes tops, I promise.”

“Okay let me just change,” he responds before heading into the rather dimly lit bathroom. Several minutes pass before Diplo emerges, looking somewhat refreshed as he plops himself down on a folding chair and beckons me over. “Want to sit?” he says as he pulls over a chair for me, removing a haphazard piece of plastic from its seat as he haggles with one of his DJs about the sets for a club show later on that night.

Diplo: No, you want it? You got an hour and a half, I don’t go on until one.

DJ: Well are you really going to let me DJ or me standing there while you DJ?

Diplo: Either one. I think you DJing is the same thing as you standing there while I DJ.

Dj: Well cool, because I didn’t come for that. [Laughs.]

Your production history tends towards reggae, dancehall and electronica but you’ve definitely rattled things up in the R&B world with Usher’s Climax. What was the inspiration for that, how did it go down?

Well that song seems like a mix of all that stuff, electronica and pop and soul altogether but--

Yo, look at her tattoo, look at her tattoo “Lazers Never Die,” the only one with that besides her? Chris Pauls and me. [Laughs.]

--yeah but that song is a homage to all that stuff so it’s like, I think it’s pretty natural, something that just happens. It amplifies it.

You did a bunch of production work on Santi’s most recent album, Look at these Hoes, Pirates in the Water. You guys always produce magic, what’s the formula there, what’s that relationship like?

Santi’s a real cool girl and we make really good songs together but I don’t know, its really weird, she’s very hesitant to do songs with me sometimes, she has her own vibe but we started doing stuff together when no one knew who we were. She was from Philly, she started doing solo stuff so it was really cool that we linked up and I like her a lot, I like what she does, it's really cool.

Why do you think she was hesitant?

I think that when we do work together, she’s more of a singer/songwriter and I’m more hands-on when it comes to producing. I don’t know, we’re really good friends, we hang out together but when we’re in the studio sometimes it’s just like we’re head to head. When I work with a lot of women either it’s magical or fighting so it’s a very volatile thing when I work with women. But we’ve had some cool stuff together, she did an amazing record on the new Major Lazer album.

You’ve made a lot of magic with a lot of female artists though, Amber Coffman, M.I.A., Santi, who is someone you haven’t worked with that you’re like itching to work with? Like Bjork or some random shit?

I don’t really know, kind of everytime I run into someone it just happens like Alicia Keys and me recently traded some music, so that’d be cool. It would be cool to work with People on the Radio I worked with their producer a couple of times but never had like the whole band and worked with them. I’d do some stuff with The XX that would be cool to do some records with them. I don’t know, I don’t really think about what I want to do I just do it. I’m like a producer for hire, just ask me to make stuff. I mean I do my own thing, I make records like "Express Yourself" and like that’s just for underground, you know?

What are you thinking right now?

I got a headache, I need some Advil. I didn’t go to sleep last night. Anybody got Advil? Tour manager? Oh, that’s it? My bad.

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