Lazers Never Die
By Evan O’Brien and Malcolm Doak
Wes Pentz started out in Tupelo, Mississippi, grew up in Florida, and later settled in to the Philadelphia scene, adopting the name Diplo along the way. Teaming up with DJ Low Budget, the two began creating events under the name Hollertronix; their events exploding into an east coast scene. Signed to Big Dada records, their Never Scared mixtape was one of the New York Times Top Albums of 2003. In 2004, Diplo's first full-length solo effort – Florida – placed him firmly on the map. That same year, his team-up with M.I.A. – Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1 – cemented his place in the spotlight. Named as DJ of the Year by Spin magazine in 2005, Diplo also launched his Mad Decent label that same year. An extension of his Miami Bass roots, Diplo is credited with promoting Baile Funk (Funk Carioca) to an international audience. We caught up with Diplo after the release of Major Lazer's Guns Don't Kill People, Lazers Do!
KORG: How did you being your journey as an artist/DJ/producer?
Diplo: I started as a DJ and was not very good. Then I made weird music (all I could do with no skill) I in fact had a Korg microKORG, played stuff on that – even borrowed an old [Korg semi-modular circa 1978] MS-20. [Next]I was DJin' full-time and back into production with some minor hits; now doing both full-time.
KORG: Guns Don’t Kill People, Lazers Do! is out and banging. How did you team up with Switch for Major Lazer?
Diplo: He's been a partner for years, and he just excels at mixing; while I've got a lot of good hair-brain ideas.
KORG: Any moments that stand out in your head from working on this?
Diplo: Workin' at Tuff Gong; going out to parties in Kingston; seeing how DJs mix on their boards as DJs … The actual yard sound systems sound way better than what I'm used to in a fancy club in the USA! But just being out here … right now we are working again. This time with Santigold and Lykke Li and others; it's pretty sick. We're getting some good songs.
KORG: Any Diplo collaborations, Mad Decent releases, etc we should keep an eye/ear out for?
Diplo: YES! A big new ML EP is coming out this year, and some Diplo tracks just after – one big one with Lil Jon. I think it might hit; sort of dubstep meets tear-the-club-up rap. There will be assorted collaborations and productions with artists like Snoop/Robyn/M.I.A./and some newcomers.
KORG: Let’s talk gear. You’ve recently picked up a KP3 Kaoss Pad, some nanoSERIES controllers, and you’ve had your Kaossilator for a while. What made you choose Korg?
Diplo: To be honest, I'm not a big in-studio person. I travel around so much. But I really like the utility of the Kaossilator to demo-in sounds; the KP3 Kaoss Pad as well. I use a lot of Korg [Legacy Collection] VSTs in my laptop as well. So I got the whole Korg catalog pretty much in just one bag! The two pieces of hardware [Kaossilator & KP3] are great to use live. Everyone always asks me what it is!
KORG: Do you have any approach to developing new music or is it different every time?
Diplo: Everything I do is an accident! That's my secret.
KORG: Do you use any other Korg gear?
Diplo: I would use all the keys if I had space!
KORG: Thanks, Diplo! Anything else you want to add before we go?
Diplo: Mad Decent! It’s the family!
Find out more at maddecent.com