Five Minutes With… DJ Diplo
Presented by BAMP Project
» Where: NextDoor, 43 N. Hotel St.
» When: 9 p.m. July 7 (doors open at 8 p.m.)
» Cost: $20 general admission; $25 for ages 18 to 20 years old (presale tickets available at all Local Motion stores on Oahu)
» Info: www.bampproject.com
Mississippi-born Thomas Wesley Pentz has turned his love for spinning records into a full-time gig traveling the world as mash-up master DJ Diplo.
Named Spin Magazine’s “DJ of the Year” in 2005, he’s since grabbed his share of the spotlight as one half of the DJ duo Hollertronix and through a creative partnership with female Sri Lankan rapper M.I.A. Over the last five years, he’s also produced remixes for tracks like Three 6 Mafia’s “Stay Fly,” Justin Timberlake’s “My Love,” Daft Punk’s “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” and Britney Spears’ “Circus.” He also continues to produce mixtapes, including 2010’s “Diplo Presents: Free Gucci” and “Major Lazer & La Roux Present: Lazerproof.”
The Star-Advertiser sent questions last week via e-mail to Diplo, who is currently on tour in Asia before playing at Chinatown nightspot NextDoor on Wednesday.
QUESTION: Your sets can be two hours or more of constant motion, as your music and DJ style involves a lot of intensity. How do you build up the energy?
ANSWER: I channel the energy from mother Earth.
Q: The Major Lazer connection with its frenetic, high-saturation sexiness and global references — hip-hop, dance and pan-African music — seems to have reached critical mass, partly because it is so overtly sexual. (The Major Lazer videos with their “daggering” have become notorious.) Of course, you’ve long emphasized funk and sexy music, as with “Favela on Blast.” What about music gets a crowd going, in your opinion? Is it important that music be “hot”?
A: Why do (you) go out? To look sexy, dance sexy, make out maybe (and) hopefully have sex. I mean, I guess this is just gettin’ to the basics.
Q: Your work is building increasing buzz and reaching deeper into previously uninformed pockets. What are you doing to get the word out?
A: I just keep doin’ what I feel like doin’ and kids support me. Theres not a lot of hype around mad decent crew. We dont follow trends — we make ‘em, and they usually take a while to catch on, but people (who) follow us know what’s up.
Q: What parts of the world are you looking to for new music these days? What’s coming out next from you?
A: I just did a show in Cambodia and I loved the culture. I loved the band Dangue Fever and the vocals on their records — it’s already a hybrid of surf/rock and psych and Eastern music from back in the ‘60s. Things like that make me keep searching for new music … but yes, right now, just local stuff. L.A. is crazy right now.
Q: Are you familiar with Hawaii’s indie rock scene? If so, are there any bands you’d be interested in working with?
A: Nah, I dont know much about it.
Q: In televised/video interviews, you come of as informed, intelligent and thoughtful — but your Twitter persona is like a cat on the make on an international stage. In other words, it appears as if you like to play the wildman and downplay your smarts. I think we know the answer, but does that act attract more fans, and is that why you do it?
A: Ha! Twitter is just like 180 (characters) or something. It’s usually just me practicing haikus on cheap wine or mediocre drugs.
Q: You first gained popularity with DJ Low Budget as Hollertronix and reportedly stepped in to work with M.I.A. after you two had a falling out. What is your current relationship? Are you still working together?
A: I never had a falling out with Mike. He just didn’t want to DJ the same (kind of) music. Hollertronix was one thing, Favela on Blast another, Major Lazer another. I do lots of things.
But Mike helped ground me in the early days. i was definitely not experienced enough to develop my own thing in Philly back then, (and) M.I.A. was just someone I was interested in (working) with. She was like the vocal version of what I was doing with the wierd mix of music.
Q: In a New York Times article on M.I.A. from May, there seems to be a lot of conflicting information between M.I.A’s viewpoint and your own quotes. What do you think of the story? Is it an honest portrait of the situation?
A: Maya is complicated. She’s an artist 100 percent. If (you) take the politics too serious, (you) all just lose because its much more complicated then just wearin’ a watermelon and bombs on a shirt.
I’m in it for the music, not the politics, and I think it (addressed) that pretty much. But (yeah), that lady made it seem pretty rough. And it’s just gonna make her hype (bigger).
Q: What’s your favorite part about visiting Hawaii?
A: Surfing. Hiking. Corny tourist (stuff), but I love the sun (and) I hate being in the studio.
Q: Do you own an iPhone? Are you planning to buy the new iPhone 4 now that it’s available in stores?
A: Naw, BlackBerry forever!