Internationally renowned party DJ and electro funk icon Diplo (otherwise known as Diplodocus, Wes Diplo, and Wes Gully) heads up the Mad Decent traveling caravan of cutting edge artists from various strains of punk, electro and hip-hop disciplines. The Tropicália-inflected underdogs of the LA post-punk scene Abe Vigoda, along with Boy 8-Bit, Paper Route Gangstaz and NYC abstract electro duo Telepathe fill-out the bill on Mon., Nov. 10th, with a roster of divine sounds, and fringe art-punk and hip-hop thats more concerned with pushing the party envelop than anything else.
Though his real name is a closely guarded secret, Diplo is known to friends, fans and journalists the world over as Wes Gully. Born in Mississippi, raised in Florida and now living in Philadelphia, he has been making inroads into the world wide music brain since the 2004 release of his Piracy Funds Terrorism, Vol. 1 mixtape with M.I.A.
His debut album, Florida (Big Dada), features a wash of sounds flowing through moments of inward journeys and fluid melodies. Heavily layered with an arsenal of samples, some of which are more familiar than others, Florida is the product of limited means, rather than a guerrilla tactic for using samples as a political means.
Did you pick the line-up for the Mad Decent tour to be like a traveling caravan of sorts?
Not really. I just wanted to throw a line-up together and get some bands who wanted to tour and are friendly. Telepathe are old friends of mine and Abe Vigoda are really cool. I just wanted to have a rock band on the line-up to change up the comfort zone for people who normally come out to see DJs and hip-hop. I wanted to break it up a bit. But also, they don't sound like anybody else. They got a punk, garage sound that's just really cool. We got some more rock stuff coming out on Mad Decent this year. We're doing a 45 at the end of next month with some kids from Philly that I really like. I can't say who it is just yet, but it will be good stuff... Fun.
Your Hollertronix parties are internationally known for being off-the-hinges, which is a sharp contrast to the typically boring reputation of live electronic music. What sets you apart?
When I was growing up I was hanging out in a lot of hip-hop clubs, and I was a hip-hop DJ. I think a new generation of kids who were born on hip-hop are expanding their musical vocabularies and getting into electronic, rock and experimental music, but these kids also want to party and have the same attitude that a hip-hop DJ would have, but want to dance to all kinds of music.
I think Mad Decent represents a real punk attitude toward making music. We're not MashUp. We do things like with the Paper Route record where we sample really off the wall records, or like stuff from the M.I.A. record. People want to hear this fuck you kind of attitude toward mainstream music, which is what we do. Even though we're becoming mainstream with artists like M.I.A. , it's still a fuck a you attitude, and that's what get's people into the spirit.
You take a lot of risks with some dangerously recognizable samples by the likes of Nirvana and even the famous bass line over which David Bowie tried to sue Vanilla Ice, and lost. Have any of them come back to bite you?
I can't really be held liable for the stuff that appears on the mixtapes because not much can traced back to me. If they want to take away the money I've made from mixtapes they can but it won't be worth their legal fees. Mostly the artists that I'm sampling are happy that I've used them on mixtapes.
If it's something like the Florida album or like what I did with M.I.A.'s album or like some track that I produced for a rapper the samples have to be cleared.
Has anything come back to bite you?
George Harrison is pretty much the only one that I've had a problem with, really. I did a bootleg of "Twist and Shout" by the Beatles that came out and I probably made more money off of that than anything else. Then later his estate tried to sue me over a record I did for a British rapper where I sample an Indian girl who had cleared the sample, but it was a cover of George Harrison's song, so they wanted rights for that. They were going to get a writer's split of like $1,000, but it would cost way more than that to peruse it, so it's more legal work than it's worth for their Beatles team or whatever.
It would make more sense to sue me for the actual "Twist and Shout" bootleg that I did but they can't really trace it back to me, so whatever...
You have two more recent releases that are kind of flying under the radar right now. They are Blow Your Head and Top Ranking: A Diplo Dub. Can you tell me about them?
Top Ranking is a mixtape I did with Santogold. It's kind of like M.I.A.'s Piracy Funds Terrorism, so it's like me doing some production and remixing some of her work, and some collections of us collaborating. It's reggae, punk, hip-hop and dub step... It's like a bootleg that came out a couple of weeks ago. Blow Your Head is just a 12-inch of me doing a James Brown track and the b-side has a Pixies track with some remixes.
Will you do another album of original arrangements and songs, similar to what you did with Florida?
Yeah I'm working on one right now. It will be like trip-hop stuff that should be out next summer.
The Mad Decent tour featuring Diplo, Abe Vigoda, Telepathe, Paper Route Gangstaz and Boy 8-bit comes to the Masquerade on Mon., Nov. 10th. $12. 8:30 p.m. 695 North Ave. 404-577-8178. www.masq.com.
(Photo courtesy of the Windish Agency)
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