If you've been to a Major Lazer show recently, you realize that their name has become a bit of a misnomer. Not that we're complaining–after an endless summer of EDM shows spent watching one identical laser-light party after the next, it's nice to see a group take a notably different route in their pursuit of crowd entertainment. From booty-clapping dancers to basketball mascots and Caribbean flair, the group's current lineup–Diplo, Jillionaire and Walshy Fire–are out to create more interactive kind of party to go along with the new batch of hot, sticky, island-inspired songs they've created for their latest album, Free the Universe, which is out in February. On their final string of North American shows, the group rolls into the Observatory in Santa Ana this week to excite and educate the populace on their new direction inspired by some of the old dancehall and reggae masters. We recently spoke with Jillionaire who talks about the band's new direction, the new lineup and his flair for unique Twitter handles.
OC Weekly (Nate Jackson): I've noticed these days you go under the Twitter
handle A$AP Romney. Are you showing some not-so-subtle support for your
boy Mitt in this year's election?
Jillionaire: Because I'm from Trinidad I can't vote, but I have
been following politics closely and if you live in America, you have to
follow. If I could vote, I don't think I'd vote for Romney. I was
actually sitting on my couch watching a bunch of A$AP Rocky videos and I
wondered why no one put those two names together. A$AP Obama seemed
The forthcoming Major Lazer album carries your single “Jah No Partial” that hinges on a dancehall sample from legendary singer Johnny Osbourne. What was the motive behind reaching back to some of those Jamaican and Caribbean roots for this record?
I guess what people have to understand about [Walshy Fire and myself] is that we come from a Caribbean background and we try to represent that at all times we don't say we're creating a new sound from the Caribbean it's just our take on reggae music. It's just our opportunity to highlight people who've made an impact on us so it's really exciting for us to do this record and hopefully it educates people on some of the old stuff. Unless you're like a staunch consumer of reggae, you're not gonna be familiar with Johnny Osbourne. It makes it cool to adapt those sounds for the next generation of dancehall fans and dance music fans in general.
Describe how things have gone in the last year with the reformed Major Lazer line-up as far your chemistry and the sounds you're coming up with.
We had a really hectic year, we've had a whole new show we've been rolling out its a work in progress, we wanted to take some of the visual elements of Caribbean live show, or a soca concert and apply them to our set. You go see these types of guys, they have full backing band, dancers, fireworks, a huge show. I don't wanna say dance music is boring because it's not but it can be very linear and predictable with limited interaction and not compelling. It's like you know there's always gonna be like a laser light show. I want people to come out and see the dancers and all the participation on stage and we want to improve the stuff we have now.
So in other words, you're trying to produce a different experience than most EDM acts out there right now?
I think that a lot of times some acts they don't feel like they need to overextend themselves, and play they play same old records and remix the same songs over and over. It's hard to differentiate one from the next. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Avicii and Calvin Harris, but we wanna put something else in there so people can walk away saying “Yo, that was something else, that was something I've never seen before.”
Nate Jackson is the gatekeeper to your dreams of local dive bar stardom. If he writes about you, expect your band to be offered at least one more drink ticket than the rest of the bands on the bill. Get his attention with some groovy tunes and he might just do it. Then, boy will you feel special.