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Being one of the most sought after producers in today’s music industry Diplo’s been in heavy demand for a hot minute now. Offered is an episode of the newly launched series The Creators Project highlighting the producer’s creative mind while meeting up with him at Bob Marley’s legendary Tuff Gong Recording Studio in Jamaica. Diplo delves into subjects like his recording procedure, his label Mad Decent and its philosophy. He also expands on his Major Lazer-project with his partner Switch and the correlation between modern music and the internet. Below you can find an excerpt for the accompanying Q&A. Check out the full piece here.
The Creators Project: So, Diplo, how did your journey into the musical stratosphere begin?
Diplo: I guess I began doing music in Florida when I was in high school—I was just trying to make a pop record. I didn’t have any samplers, just an old turntable-mixer that had a like a three second stamp on it, so I’d loop things and then try to cut samples over top of the record. That was the first time I ever made anything—three-second loops.
How long did it take for you to start putting together mix tapes and stuff like that?
That took a while. I had a little Gemini mixer and I’d be buying and trading stuff like an XP-1200 or an F-20, which were different samplers. And I would sell my turntables and buy a whole bunch of turntables back, and then sell samplers and buy them back. I kept selling and buying and trading until I was about 21. Then I moved to Philadelphia and decided to do more DJ stuff, because it was a way to make money. I’ve also worked as a school teacher and at places like Subway and at a movie theater.
Why Philly? A lot of people in your situation would have chosen New York.
I couldn’t afford to move to New York. Besides, Philadelphia is really a good city and a pretty creative place. I guess it’s tougher than New York in terms of the competition because everybody hates each other. If you can make it out of Philly, you have pretty tough skin. I also got a scholarship to go to university there, so school was another reason.
And while you were there you eventually put together the Piracy Funds Terrorism mix tape with M.I.A., which was a pretty major stepping stone. Why do you think it was so successful?
The M.I.A. mix tape came out about five years ago, and it was a big hit because no one had seen an artist like her in that context. There were no rules for that. She’s one of the artists who really broke through the ideas of underground hip-hop and club music.