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Diplo hits ’em with the dab in Paris. (DMahoney)
The attention makes sense. Since 2015, Diplo’s groups have scored two worldwide hits: Major Lazer and DJ Snake’s “Lean On” featuring MØ and Jack Ü’s “Where Are U Now” featuring Justin Bieber. The tracks have amassed more than 758 million and 3.4 million combined streams and sales, respectively. In March, Major Lazer performed a historic concert in Cuba, becoming the first US act to do so in decades. Now, the group is working with Bieber and MØ together on “Cold Water,” the lead single off Major Lazer’s upcoming fourth album.
Here’s what we learned from the interview:
1. He’s focused on producing for his own groups now.
“Beyoncé is the only artist I’ve produced for the last year, because it’s more lucrative for us to make our own music now. When we put out a song with Beyoncé, cool, we’ll get a fee, we’ll get some [publishing] splits, but Beyoncé is going to make a billion dollars touring it. If I make a song and it’s my song, like ‘Lean On,’ we’re going to make money off the synchs, the Spotify and we get to headline festivals on it. That’s the model I want to explore.”
2. He’s still an independent artist at heart.
“It’s complicated because we just want to [release ‘Cold Water’] indie. And convincing Team Bieber to do that is hard. We don’t need to have some guy tell us, We don’t need to have some guy tell us, ‘Oh, this is what the market research says.’ I’m on the ground. I see it.”
3. He finds greater purpose when performing in places where other big American acts don’t go.
“In Pakistan, people were in tears. I’m not like the Red Cross, but the kids in Pakistan and Cuba want this. It feels like I’m doing something that’s important — I’m helping them create something that wasn’t there before.”
4. He doesn’t like the EDM scene.
“The DJ world is the corniest f–ing group of people. We’re not celebrities, we’re not famous for any good reason. We’re just … really lame. Besides people like Dillon Francis, who makes fun of the whole thing, or Calvin Harris, it’s a sinking ship. It’s a really lame culture. I’m sad that I’m part of it, but I play the game.”
5. He uses Spotify and his own shows to find the next hit.
“I think Spotify has been killing it with playlists. With Mad Decent we’re putting out like 400 songs this year. And we’re just doing it because we can find out which are playlist-friendly . . . Labels pay a lot of money for market research. I get it for free. Just give me an afterparty to DJ at.”