Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Jul 29th 2010 2:30PM by Shelley White
The UK producer, DJ and 'fidget house' pioneer became well-known as one half of the dynamic duo who helped propel M.I.A. to stardom by producing her albums 'Arular' and 'Kala.' Switch and Philadelphia producer/DJ Diplo then struck musical gold by fusing their love of Jamaican music into the clubby dancehall project Major Lazer. Their latest release is a five-song EP called 'Lazers Never Die' -- and fans will get to hear the new stuff live when Switch and his co-horts take the stage at this weekend's Osheaga Festival in Montreal.
Switch reunited with Diplo on M.I.A.'s newest LP, as well as teaming with pal John Hill to produce four tracks on Christina Aguilera's latest full-length effort, including title track, 'Bionic.'
Spinner caught up with Switch to discuss daggering, his future career in cartoons and being an underground guy in a mainstream world.
Diplo has said that what you guys do, the mainstream catches up with a year or two later. Do you agree?
There is some truth in that. Maybe it's catching up with us a bit quicker than it used to because of the Internet. It doesn't take new music as long to break as it used to. I also feel like the mainstream is more in touch with the underground these days and more people are checking out what we do, which is nice and a compliment. It's also a pain in the bum sometimes, but once something's out, it's out, right?
Do you feel ripped off sometimes?
Yeah, it can be a double-edged sword, it can be annoying. But if they are ripping us off, it means we must be doing something right.
Working with an artist like Christina Aguilera, does that make you feel like you're part of the mainstream, in a way?
I'm not scared of making commercial music. Me, John [Hill], Wes [Diplo], none of us are scared of doing mainstream records. We are all big fans of pop music, as well as the underground, and so it feels like a natural progression. And the way the iPod has changed people's musical selection and the way they buy music -- it's led to everyone's tastes being wider and more varied. So that's cool for us because we like to push the boundaries a little bit.
Do you think dance music is coming back in earnest in the US? You could make an argument it already has, if you look at stuff like Akon and David Guetta's 'Sexy Bitch.'
I definitely think so. America hasn't really had a big dance music movement since disco. I think the progression of hip-hop has been taking dance more into the mainstream, by dance producers using big stars that American audiences are familiar with. Hip-hop was not really very inventive a year ago, and now there's a new generation of artists, a new generation of fans who seem like they're looking for something other than just straight hip-hop and R&B. And it seems everyone is quite happy to go in a club, dance-y direction.
That's why it's cool for Christina Aguilera to come to us and say, 'Just do what you do with other artists.' And artists like her, who have real commercial clout, when they come out with records that sound out of the ordinary, it helps people get exposed to different forms and presentations of music, which is cool.
Major Lazer stemmed from your love of Jamaica and dancehall music, is that still what's turning you on right now?
The best thing about dancehall is that it reinvents itself every six or eight months, it's never stale. The rate they turn music around there is astonishing. So every time we go back out there, there's always something new -- a new movement or a new sound or something -- and that maintains our interest and we'll always be into that. We'll always find something new from Jamaica.
Your video for 'Pon De Floor' video caught some heat, with some people suggesting it was offensive. What was your aim with the video?
We're representing music and the culture around it. We're record producers and part of that is to document what is going on. And that scene, the daggering and all that, is controversial, especially in Jamaica. But it is a big scene, especially with young kids in New York and stuff, which is where we found Skerrit Bwoy [who stars in the video]. We found it entertaining, and people are interested in it. But we're not trying to make any statements about it.
In general, you don't seem worried about pissing people off.
The commercial market has a tendency to mask over things that people have a genuine interest in. And I feel like because we come from a pretty strong underground background, we are pretty confident -- we honestly don't really care if we make it commercially or not. We're more about the music than where the music ends up going or whatever. Without having that interest in pockets of culture, it becomes boring and we end up making boring music, so we just like to stay interested and exposed to new things.
Tell me about the cartoon version of Major Lazer you are doing for 'Adult Swim.'
That's one the most exciting things that have happened with the project. It stemmed from the 'Hold the Line' video where it was kind of like an old episode of 'He-Man' with a 'G.I. Joe' advert. And 'Adult Swim' approached us to see if we were interested in developing that. Me and Wes will not only have input into the cartoon, but we'll write the music for the soundtrack, which for us is, like, a pretty fun job. We're going to link them up with some of our friends in Jamaica to do some of the voices. It's pretty much an open platform and they're very open to us throwing ideas at them. And again, the whole point of the Major Lazer project was to expose what we like about Jamaican music and Jamaican culture, so if the cartoon gives us a bigger platform to do that, then we feel like we've accomplished something.
So many of the artists you've worked with in the past have blown up (MIA, Santigold, Amanda Blank). Is there anyone you're working with now we should watch out for?
We're definitely trying to put more male artists on our list, we need to balance the score sheet a little bit. There's a guy who's actually out in Los Angeles with us working at the moment, he doesn't have an artist name yet. He's amazing, a real soulful guy from England that we're doing some interesting stuff with. Getting back to real sort of music, but with an electronic side as well. What's good about this project is that we were told to run at this with as much creative input as possible; we're not working within any boundaries, and I think that's where me and Diplo can really kind of relax and have fun. We get our best results, when we're not trying to please too many managers and A&R people.