American Way: Aided by electronic dance music’s recent surge in popularity, Major Lazer has evolved from a niche act to a mainstream festival headliner.
Diplo: When we first started, it was like a little hobby — just a way to put out music where we didn’t know where it could go. But now, after almost three years, it makes a lot of sense. There’s a whole culture around it now. It feels like a real group.
AW: The dance-music scene has exploded with DJs who’ve become famous overnight.
D: Nowadays, a DJ just needs to have one song that plays in the clubs and on YouTube and they blow up so quickly. But a lot of times, that’s a flash in the pan. It doesn’t last very long. Ours is more of a slow grow.
AW: Major Lazer’s music is heavily rooted in Caribbean culture. What draws you to the music of that region and, particularly, Jamaica?
D: Growing up in Florida, I was tuned into a lot of reggae music really young. When I listened to Jamaican music — everything from ska to rocksteady to Bob Marley to dancehall — I realized how that music was like a sponge of everything. It was like what I was already doing: always mixing and matching different things up in genres.
AW: In your collaborations as a producer, which artist has surprised you the most?
D: [Justin] Bieber. I didn’t expect it to be so much fun. Working with somebody that young — they really teach you so much. He had a lot of his own opinions, but he was also so interested in learning. With him, it was really collaborative. There was a lot of rap music [we made] that no one will ever hear.
AW: You’ve made a habit of dressing in designer suits at your shows. Why?
D: I think you’re getting paid so much money, you might as well look like a star.