Diplo Talks Influences, Being Obnoxious & Making Bieber Cool Again
EDM's top producer Diplo recently sat down with The Fader for a comprehensive interview, discussing a variety of topics at length, ranging from his influences, his twitter persona, and making Justin Bieber cool again.
Diplo's twitter persona has stirred up controversy in the past, and the producer discusses his changing attitude towards presenting his brand on social media.
"I don’t use Twitter to be obnoxious as much as I used to. I never considered Twitter to be anything more than just a joke for 10 years, then all of a sudden it was a news source for people. The fact that I even became peers with people like Taylor Swift and pop stars, like, I never could even fathom that those people would look at my Twitter and be affected by it. That’s when I realized I was disrespecting my records. Now I’m trying to put all of my energy toward music positively, through doing the right videos and doing the right shows and doing the right artwork and viral things we can do. Just being obnoxious on Twitter only gets you so far, and then people don’t take your music seriously."
Diplo and Skrillex's smash hit "Where Are Ü Now" has been the topic of constant attention this year, and he reveals the challenges of trying to make Bieber cool again."I met Bieber a few years ago, producing a record for him with Ariel Rechtshaid called 'Thought of You.' I’ve known his manager, Scooter, for many years—he used to manage Kelis. They showed me respect back then and were really nice to me, so I always just kept them within arm’s length. They trusted me when I asked for a vocal. It was like a no-brainer. They had hit a place where nothing was working for them, and Justin had kinda hit rock bottom with things, like from the press, from jail, and from, like, taking his pants down at an awards show or something. I wasn’t even paying attention, but I know that he wasn’t very cool. And I was trying to really help Skrillex rebrand his own project, too. If nothing else, I thought working with Bieber would be the most noticeable thing we could do. It would be a great record, and it would make everyone really fucked up. It would make them really disappointed in themselves, and really confused, like, 'How do I like this record?' Even from day one, as I started to develop, I saw people’s perceptions of me as a producer, and they always want to put me in one box or another. Maybe that’s why I’m a target for things, because I don’t belong anywhere. If I make a record that makes people think that Justin Bieber is cool and makes them dance to it—which seems to be one of the most daunting tasks ever—then maybe people will rethink the way they think about music, you know? It’s not so dry and clear, what’s cool and what isn’t. Good music is going to be good music. He’s somebody you don’t want to like, but you like it."
Known for his free usage of a wide array of influences and sounds from across the globe, Diplo talks about his influences and explains why he's happy to take inspiration in whatever form it comes in.
"At the end of the day, I’m a DJ. It sounds silly, but people like Afrika Bambaataa are my heroes because nobody was doing what he did before he did it. No one told him you can’t play Led Zeppelin. This was a guy who was mixing German records, rock records, electro records, and making his own records out of all that didn’t exist beforehand. I loved DJ Premier, DJ Shadow. I loved groups like The Pharcyde, Wu-Tang Clan. Stuff from my middle school days really inspired me, like hearing Brand Nubian sample a slowed-down guitar. I was like, 'Wow, there’s no rules to hip-hop at this point.' I was raised on dancehall too. I loved this guy named Lenky, who produced the Diwali riddim for Sean Paul. He was sampling little bits and pieces of culture, like Indian music or Western soundtracks, or soft rock guitars. I just loved the idea of anything goes. Who fucking cares? All this shit could get thrown into a pot and make something amazing."