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Diplo Interview - Florida's Finest

Author: Guido Farnell
Monday, 19 December 2005
There's few hotter than Diplo these days, what with his baile funk connections, impressive remixes and close links to MIA, but have the pair split up recently- It would seem so...

Diplo is arguably the hottest DJ/producer to recently emerge from the America's underground dance scene. A DJ with broad and eclectic tastes, Diplo's mixes reveal an inventive DJ who knows exactly how fun party music should be mixed up. At first it was the shock of the new with the now classic Hollertronix mixtape 'Never Scared'. Then there is the unforgettable riotous energy of the 'Favela On Blast' mix, which essentially put baile funk on the map last year. This was quickly followed by the brilliance of 'Piracy Funds Terrorism'. It was essentially a mixtape that leaked much of M.I.A.'s album 'Arular', which got delayed for release as her record label XL got busy clearing the mountain samples deployed on the record. This month sees Diplo deliver the 24th chapter of the 'Fabric live' mix series and predictably it demonstrates a highly developed sense of what constitutes good old fashioned party music.

"I can't think of anything more boring than sitting around an talking about a mixtape", says Diplo who is currently on tour with Rio's DJ Marlboro. Graciously, Wesley Pentz or Diplo as he prefers to be known, talks while simultaneously doing a sound check. "I think we really should be talking about politics and aliens," he laughs. Yet as he is coaxed into sharing his insights, talking music with Diplo is fascinating. "The Fabric mix attempts to provide a history of the Miami bass electro sound but of course I could not resist and throw in all sorts of things like Cat Power and The Cure. I think it all sort of fits together."

"I have always thought of the Detroit scene's upbeat electro sounds as being an offshoot of Miami bass. I guess this is why I included a couple of ghetto tech tracks like DJ Deeon's classic Freaks. Juan Atkins is an old favourite. I grew up with Cybotron's Clear and Model 500's Nightdrive, which are also just classic. Detroit isn't what it used to be. Like everywhere in America, underground music is just dead. You just don't have underground culture like raves and stuff like you used to in Florida and Detroit. Everywhere you go you have this homogenised mainstream stuff that is really boring to me. Baltimore has a real scene happening there at the moment and that's kind of exciting. Lots of people over there are really getting into that Baltimore house sound."

"Yeah, mainly what I play it is just club music from Baltimore. It is like house music with breakbeats and a lot of bounce. At the moment they take use a lot of hip hop sounds and edit them at 106bpm. It's like the same tempo as the Brazilian funk stuff. Marlboro is looking at me and scratching his head right now. I am not sure he knows what to do with it. Nah, Marlboro definitely does not like the stuff. Like baile funk, it is based on breakbeats but has more of a house flavour to it while baile funk is more directly influenced by electro and Miami bass. It is really big around DC and Philly but it kind of bombed when I played it in Brazil. It is called party music where I am from and it's what you hear in clubs at two in the morning."

Baltimore house couldn't be further away from Rio and I wondered how he discovered that city's notorious baile funk sounds. "I got a baile funk mixtape from someone about three years ago. It was really lo-fi stuff recorded onto CDs and it featured some of the old anthems from that scene. I loved it so much that I just had to go to Brazil to learn more about this music. Lately I have been touring a lot with DJ Marlboro who has been making baile funk since the late '80s. I left Brazil three days ago and now I am in San Francisco to do a show with him tonight."

The lure of Brazil proves irresistible to the 26 year old Diplo but if you're thinking tasteful Tropicalissmo and groovy bossas, forget it
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