Tim Turbo meets: Diplo (Major Lazer)

posted on June 12th, 2009 by in Article, Audio, SEEN, Tim Turbo

ttmeetsdiplo

Whats up lazer kids?

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure to meet Diplo in Berlin on his little media promo tour thingy for the upcoming Major Lazer album. Instead of doing a normal Q&A, we listened to some music together and talked about it. I picked a few songs beforehand, which – in my eyes and ears – document the ongoing dialogue between Jamaican, American and European styles.

It’s Diplo versus the beats. It’s Tim Turbo trying to find the mind behind Major Lazer and it’s hopefully for your reading pleasure!

Tune: Papa San – Dancehall Good To We (Telephone Love Riddim)

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Diplo: „Telephone Love“! I love those drums! That´s what we tried to do with Major Lazer, too: Keeping it oldschool Dancehall on the beat and having arrangements or vocals suitable for the U.S. on the same time. You still got lots of that crossover stuff in Jamaica, like the southern Hip Hop stuff. One of the big riddims in Jamaica right now is the „Collie Monster Riddim“, wich is like just straight up southern Hip Hop. Snappy stuff!

Tune: Mad Cobra – Any Gun (Indian Summer Riddim)

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Diplo: I know this riddim, it’s older, like two years ago?
Tim Turbo: „Indian Summer Riddim“, actually from 2005. I picked it, because in some interview you said, it’s the first riddim you know, that is so close to a European music style, in this case Grime.
Diplo: Yeah, it’s done by a bunch of Japanese kids. They’re really on that style over there, I don’t even like that fast stuff anymore. But all the dancers love this style.

Tim Turbo: What do you think about the dialog between European and Jamaican styles? Like the Grime influences in this case?
Diplo: I think Dubstep will really influence Jamaica soon. I mean, there was always a communication between England and Jamaica. But with Major Lazer we tried to go back to the classic sound, like the „Mad Thing Riddim“, wich is out right now, mid tempo stuff.

Tim Turbo: I think this riddim was not really appreciated in JA, do you think your stuff will be?
Diplo: Mmhh, we’ll start our tour in Jamaica at Quad, Kingstons finest club. We’ll see!
Tim Turbo: With all the artists on stage? Major Lazer Sting?
Diplo: We’ll maybe have some people that I like on stage. But if you play in the big clubs in Kingston, like Asylum or Quad you have to play like 90% dubplates. If you don’t play dubplates you get booed off stage. So this will be very expensive. We gonna spend like 3000$ to have the dubs just to play. That´s how they make the money down there. We don’t have such a big dubplate culture in America like in Europe. We got some main-DJs and they get the dubplates for free, in England maybe as well and Japan it´s more like a money thing.
Tim Turbo: They really have some money over there!
Diplo: Yeah, they keep the culture alive. But Germany, too, man. Japan and Germany still got the biggest Reggae scenes.

Tim Turbo: You got many different artists contributing vocals on the album: Santigold, Vybz Kartel, Ward 21, Busy Signal, Amanda Blank, Mr. Vegas, Turbulence, Jah Dan, Dr. Evil, T.O.K, Ricky Blaze or Prince Zimboo, just to name a few. Did you plan all these features or was it like: „Hey, you are in the yard, we record you!“?
Diplo: We had like a wishlist, but there is a couple of artists that we just could not get, like Tanya Stephens and Mavado. Two people we just could not get, no matter what. Mavado just did this song with Jay-z and was really expensive.
Tim Turbo: This „On The Rock“ remix tune?
Diplo: Yeah, it was not even a big song in my eyes. It was on Hot97 for what? Like a week? But it´s one of the biggest things for a Jamaican artist to be on Hot97. So we could not afford him, even though he would have been perfect for the album. I like how he sings. Like a 80s white persons voice, like Bryan Adams or something like that. He got this new song out. „Neva Believe You“. Great song.

Tim Turbo: (laughs) You are right, great song. That’s why I wanted to listen to it with you anyway as the next song, but in a remix version.

Tune: Mavado – Neva Believe U (Tim Turbo Afterhour Mix)

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Diplo: Atmospheric. (Listens, then the vocals start) I love his „Wohooo“. If you would take a little bit of the patois off then it sounds like a cheesy 80s popsong. He’s just great.

Tune: Ward 21 – Dubby Man

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Diplo: Ahhh, Ward 21! They are my favourite Dancehall producers. We did a Baile Funk track with them for the album, but it did’nt make it. (Keeps listening) Is that one new? You gotta send me this. Is the whole riddim like this? That´s what i talked about before! I love this dialog between the cultures. It’s nearly Dubstep. Some more vocals would have been nice.

Tim Turbo: You recorded all of the stuff for the album in just 7-10 days, right? How does that work out in Kingston? Did you have a schedule or was it like: let´s bring our cell phones, some instrumentals and a bag of money and leave the rest up to coincidents, improvisation and already existing on-the-ground links?
Diplo: Basically, we’ve been in the studio and some people just showed up. Some recordings we didn’t even use. Like Macka Diamond, another Vybz Kartel and Spice. We didn’t have enough beats. We recorded like 7 vocals in 10 days, I had already recorded 5 vocals on previous Jamaica sessions and some of the artists we recorded in America: Ricky Blaze, another Kartel, Mr Vegas and Jovi Rockwell.

Tim Turbo: What´s your favourite combination on the album?
Diplo: Having Jovi Rockwell and Mr Vegas together was awesome. They just had a great charisma and she is really brilliant. Also Future Troubles on top of a Black Flag punkrock plus Dancehall beat is really cool. Next song!

Tim Turbo: Now we got the other side speaking in the culture diaolg: European House music influenced by Dancehall vocals.

Tune: Jamtech Foundation vs. Yellowman – Tell It To Dem

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Diplo: Oh, they play a lot of House now in Jamaica, too. There was always a small House scene. (Listens) Yellowman! And it’s a new recorded vocal, nice. He sounds like that today, a little tired and old. Where is that song from?
Tim Turbo: Stockholm, Sweden. They go by the name of Jamtech Foundation.
Diplo: We could have done that for Major Lazer, too, you know, but we decided to do it straight Dancehall and let somebody from a blog or something like that do the House remixes. Everybody does the remixing now. So why not let them do it?

Tune: Modeselektor – Weed Wid da Macka (Modeselektor Mix)

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Diplo: Who´s this on the vocal?
Tim Turbo: Ninja Man. The tune is by Modeselektor from Berlin, Germany.
Diplo: Ah, I like these guys. Really cool. But they don’t do stuff like this anymore, right? Now they doing more housy, faster stuff.
Tim Turbo: Yeah, more Techno Electro stuff like it is all over Berlin.
Diplo: But Berlin has a real dynamic scene! You got stuff like this and you got some Dubstep people, but it is still Techno city, ain’t it?
Tim Turbo: It is.
Diplo: And this Boyz Noise Electro House sound, I like that, too. They did like a Dubstep remix for Black Eyed Peas’ „Boom Boom Pow“ recently. Big tune!

Tune: Schlachthofbronx – Good To Go

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Diplo: Who´s that? I heard this style of producing before.
Tim Turbo: Schlachthofbronx from Munich, Germany
Diplo: Yeah, right, know that name. Do you have more of them, sounds a little bit like Radioclit? They also did this really cool Kuduroish remix of Timberlee’s „Gunny Gunny“. We posted it on the Mad Decent blog. Cool stuff. You gotta give me that, too.

Major Lazer – Hold The Line (Tim Turbo’s 20 Riddims MegaMashup4000)

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Diplo: (Smirks) I know that tune somehow. Oh, the freakin „Taxi Riddim“. And another riddim, but I don’t know the name. And another one. How many are on there?
Tim Turbo: 20. I did it.
Diplo: You gotta give me that one, too. Good remix. It’s different from all the House remixes some other guys did. I like that. It takes it back where it came from, or something like that.

Tim Turbo: Thats the intention. I got no more songs to play. But I got one more question on your upcoming documentary „Favela on Blast“: What about doing a similar movie project in Jamaica?
Diplo: Mmh, people have done documentaries about Jamaica before. „Favela On Blast“ was important, because nobody had done that before. But it would be cool doing something in Jamaica. Maybe something like „One Day Inna Life“: Looking at someone´s life and what it is like to do that Dancehall stuff in Jamaica. Maybe a dancer or following a dance crew. Actually a good idea. And it´s more accessible, too, in Jamaica to do something like that. Brazil is really hardcore, I mean Kingston is hardcore, too. We’ll see.

Tim Turbo: Thanks for the listening session. I hope you enjoyed yourself.
Diplo: Definitly. Thank you, too.

Notice: Major Lazer‘s album “Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do” is in stores on 16th of June 2009. Prelazer it here. Watch them lazer down your town on the album release tour, wear the best T-shirt of the year so far (watch out for the new seen. stuff) and listen to the whole album on their MySpace.