Billboard’s Fall Music Preview gives credit to the man who is truly everywhere in music (except country) at the moment: Diplo. From drunk recording sessions with Madonna to a week in the studio with Usher, working with Skrillex and Chris Brown, it’s all here—along with, of course, his own music and tours and residencies. (Diplo is on track to top last year’s 221 live performances.) Over the course of the interview, the Mad Decent label head goes into detail about all of the above and proves that not only is he a compendium of musical knowledge, but really does have, as the cover line says, “the Midas touch.”
Discussed at length is how spending his teen years in South Florida, a densely varied music scene, still shapes his approach to music: the more diverse, the better. It’s clear from who he works with (Madge and Skrillex go as well together as bare feet and broken glass) as well as what he puts out himself, from dance tracks to his reggae-inspired group Major Lazer to Jack U partnership. He doesn’t understand people who stick to their genre bubbles. Speaking of the EDM community in particular:
“All the DJs were at my Vegas night one night—I’m not going to name names, but all the big EDM guys—and I played a Juicy J record,” he says, shaking his head. “They’re like, ‘Where do you get these records?’ I’m like, ‘They’re on the radio! You can buy them off iTunes!’ They really have no idea. They live in these bubbles. I’m like, ‘Damn, dudes, use your imagination a little bit.’ “
And the picture that overwhelmingly emerges is one of a savvy, nomadic businessman. Most of his earnings are invested back into Mad Decent or savings accounts, Mad Decent HQ is itself a bare-bones building, and home is wherever he keeps his “stuff” (he does not own a house); he scoffs at the notoriously lavish EDM lifestyle, “A lot of DJs don’t realize they’re here today and gone tomorrow. They’re literally taking jets to every show. It’s crazy how much money they’re spending.” Instead his—and many a current musician’s—most valuable possession is the backpack where he carries his two laptops, the storage facility for hundreds upon hundreds of tracks.