Major Lazer is a collaboration between globetrotting electro DJ/producers Diplo and Switch, but the project is fronted by — and named for — a yet-to-be-seen “Jamaican commando” whose background includes losing an arm in the secret Zombie War of 1984. He was rescued by the U.S. military, given a laser-powered prosthetic limb (“the BMW of lasers,” he told us), and now leads a double-life as an undercover renegade soldier working “to protect the world from the dark forces of evil” and a burgeoning musician and owner of a dancehall night club. The name of Major Lazer’s debut album, Guns Don’t Kill People … Lazers Do, may lend itself to some debate about which weapon is most lethal, but one thing is certain: Major Lazer have spent 2009 bringing dancehall to people across the globe. We spoke to the Major about his work with Diplo and Switch, his laser limbs, and why he hasn’t been appearing at any live shows. (Sorry, translation not included.)
Tell me how you hooked up with Diplo and Switch.
Switch come ah mi yard fe work pon M.I.A. record. And we jus keep de vibes flowin’ from den.
How would you describe working with them?
In a word: dem bredda dem “different.”
Your particular brand of dancehall bangers has become wildly popular with people who don’t normally listen to dancehall. Why do you think that is?
Me rule dancehall ting. Diplo rule club ting inna Merica, an switch rule ova Inglan. Me put my magic and bless de vibes wha dem ah create.
Where do you find inspiration for making music?
Me live ah bush. So more time mi jus bun a bighead sploof an lissen di birds. Or rain an beat down pon de roof. Or di dog dem ah bark. Everywhere have inspiration.
Does your military background lend a specific element to your music or the way you go about making it?
Yuh nuh see say everybody waan put drums and horns inna dem ting now? Me know how fe mek hit after hit!
You haven’t been part of the tour thus far. Would that be mainly because having lasers for limbs is looked at as a hazard to crowds by the venues?
Nah, man. Me neva too hype pon de stageshow ting. When de man dem ah play small venue wit easy crowd, den mi ago deh deh. But de shows ah get mad down. Thousands ah people. Skerrit pon him ladder. Jillionaire ah throw wata pon de fans. Diplo ah DJ. More time me deya mi yard and ah watch de videos dem and say, “Bwoyyy, me cant keep up wit dem yute.”
Your love of partying is notorious. What are the key ingredients of a rager?
Before you leave out ah yuh yard, bun a big head jus to level the vibes. When you inna de dance, jus go sip some white rum. Sip mi seh! Ah nuh greedy ting. And whole night ya feel nice.
I’ve heard that aside from conquering the world musically, your other big objective is to fight the forces of evil: vampires, zombies, etc. How’s that been going? I imagine it’s been especially tough with vampires and zombies taking over pop culture lately.
Bwoy. Jus de odda day me tell Switch it look like we make de zombie dem famous again. From Andy Millionakis sing de zombie song, me hear say dem have zombie movie. Vampire TV show. Whole heap ah ting deh. Mi nuh undastan wha gwaan. But mi gwaan make de whole ah dem guh dung same way!
You seem to have been blessed by powers of precognition, especially when it comes to dance music. What do you see coming up in the future?
Two tousan ten mi ah tun movie star.
Any artists you’re dying to collaborate with?
Mi nuh really dead fi nuh artist. Right now dem ah run we down. But big up de man dem inna Jamaica whe ah take dancehall music to di world. Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Busy Signal, whole ah dem yute deh.
What’s up next for you?
Right now me ah work pon some nex releases, and maybe ah TV show an some next ting deh. Me nuh really decide yet; jus ah take some time fe cool out and reason out mi next move.
What’s your idea of the perfect day off?
Badman nuh tek day off. If yu waan money inna di bank yu haffi hustle twenty-four seven, forty-eight fourteen.
And finally, please complete this sentence: The thing people would be most shocked to learn about major lazer is …
If me tell unno, world aguh stop turn.
Photo Credit: Jason Bergman/Prefixmag.com