Before he got onstage with Pharrell at Coachella to perform their hit Aerosol Can, Diplo was chilling at the Sonos house party, DJ’ing his signature blend of world music beats, from Brazilian techno to dancehall and of course, heaps of hip-hop. We caught up with Diplo to talk about his favorite new music scenes, his filmmaking aspirations, and more.
BC: What new music are you digging?
D: There’s a scene in Amsterdam that I love right now with Yellow Claw and Boaz, all these young guys that are doing all this crazy, futuristic, hip hop stuff. I’ve been working with them a lot on the Major Lazer album and on my label, Mad Decent. There’s a crazy underground Amsterdam scene. But, I love South Africa man. So many dynamic things happening there. We did a show in Nairobi, and Kenya has so much cool shit. I was just doing my first shows in Africa and it was crazy to see how developed the music is, how it’s their own identity, it’s so hard. The music that travels to Africa is like a really hashed down American version of hip hop and things. And you have to have money to develop. Right now there’s a huge black middle class in Johannesburg. When you have money to spend in music – not just like, ‘that’s all we have,’ – you can try new things. If you’re barely getting by, you have to make hits. But I think the black middle class in Johannesburg is doing some things that are really exciting and moving things forward.
BC: So what’s next?
D: I want to move more into documentaries next. I did a documentary called Favela on Blast – nobody really saw it, but I really loved that – I want to do more of that. Right now the music is going well and it’s so accessible, it’s a way for me to gain capital so I can create something later. There’s not a lot of money in us creating content because people are always excited about whatever hype shit’s going on. For us to bring something like real artists or real ideas out to the front is kind of a hard sell to kids. But we’re going to try and archive that stuff so people can come back and see that all that stuff exists. Maintain those archives – that’s what Shane [McCauley] and I are trying to do.
BC: Do you think of Blow your Head as an archive?
D: It’s a beginning. What I love is that Shane loves it, and I found a partner who loves to do what he does so hopefully me and him can keep doing it for as long as we can.
BC: Nowadays the music world is filled branded content and sponsorships – what brought you to work with Sonos?
D: The thing about Sonos is – I don’t do a lot of branded stuff but – it’s technology to play music. It’s not like a fucking cigarette or something, so it’s not really difficult. I don’t think anyone’s gonna know one song I play today. But they’ll dance to it and hopefully they’ll remember like Aluna George’s voice or Sam Smith. My label and my ethos has always been about bringing new music to people. I’m just a guy who’s able to translate a good vibe with the way I mix.
Photography by Hadas Di.