By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
Ever look around at all these kids in too-tight fluorescent jeans, cheapie Ray-Bans and musty-smelling thrift-store wear and wonder, "What the hell happened here?"
There's a simple answer for you: Diplo. Or, more accurately, it was the Philly native's Hollertronix duo that championed the club mash-up in the early '00s and sent the youth of America into an anything-goes music and fashion frenzy. Heralded as the king of the kitchen sink and turning out the EDM scene with his Mad Decent label, Diplo (aka Wes Gully) took a moment to talk to us before his appearance at the Palladium Ballroom on the last tour of his very, very busy year.
Why did you choose live bands Telepathe, Boy 8-Bit and Abe Vigoda to open for you on this Mad Decent tour?
Abe Vigoda are just loud and garage-y, and they bring the noise. Telepathe are old friends, and we definitely need women on the tour bus! Plus, I've already done the club circuit to death and have played pretty much every city in a dance club, so I wanted this tour to be more grimy and bring it back to rock venues. Really bring it back to the people. I kept it all-ages and kept ticket prices low so kids could hear new music.
What kind of boss are you when it comes to running your label, Mad Decent?
I kind of sit around and help or work on random projects, but mostly it's the big kids who run the day-to-day stuff and smoke weed in our garage. Oh, and we play Grand Theft [Auto] a lot. It's in an old mausoleum I bought in Philly that we turned into headquarters. We have some shows there too—it's been mad (no pun).
Let's talk for a second about politics. I'm sure everyone is asking you about this lately: Were you supporting a certain candidate?
I went to see Obama [speak]. I was really excited and got goose bumps—so many kids were trippin', and I've never seen a politician do that. He opened up with Earth, Wind and Fire and Curtis Mayfield the same day Palin was at a Flyers game and got booed so bad! Poor girl. Even the hockey fans in Philly don't like Miss Hockey Mom!
How were the Hollertronix days different from today (aside from the fact that you're solo now)?
I'm a lot better now—I think I had the ideas back then, but we were really bootleg about it, renting a small place and passing out homemade flyers ourselves. But the bottom line is that we started a little movement with the sound and ideas from the party that was carried on. We are about to put out the 10th Hollertronix mix in December, and then it's time to retire. But you can always hear the attitude of that party in my production. Anything goes. I still go to DJ parties with kids getting naked, swinging off the lights and pouring drinks everywhere. It's just bigger now, and they have light systems and stuff.
And now you have your own crazy setup and light systems.
Oh yeah. For the tour, I invented this really cheap light table that is totally gonna blind people.
This year has been a busy one for you, so what do you think (or know) 2009 has in store? Anything planned you can tell my readers about?
I'm going to do more production stuff for my crew—Amanda Blank, Spank Rock, Blaqstarr, Kid Sister, M.I.A.—and there will be big Mad Decent releases from Paper Route Gangstas and MAJOR Lazer (Diplo & Switch). Plus, my Favela on Blast film is coming, and hopefully I'll get some of my own music done.
So, speaking of M.I.A., are you still friends after breaking up?
She's my girl forever, and we are both mad lucky to be where we are.
And what do you say to media that have proclaimed the two of you Mr. and Mrs. Hipster King and Queen?
Pssh. Where's my crown?