One of the biggest highlights of this year’s Ultra Music Festival is sure to be the worldwide debut of Jack U, the collaboration between superstar DJs Skrillex and Diplo. Separately, each artist is capable of selling out the most popular clubs on the planet, so together it would seem the sky’s the limit, both creatively and commercially.
Diplo, real name Thomas Wesley Pentz, is in town for the Winter Music Conference for only a few days, so catch him while you can – solo at Ultra on Friday, and as part of Jack U on Sunday. He talked about his friendship with Skrillex, their musical philosophy, and how he chose the name Diplo.
What’s Jack U all about?
Me and Sonny have just been really friendly for about three years. We met on Twitter and I just started talking to him before “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” came out, and we just met in a club one day in L.A., and we just hung out. We’ve been friends and have always been collaborating on different things, and did some shows together. And Skrillex opened for Major Lazer in Jamaica in December, and that was like our first really cool thing – we made the whole show ourselves, and it was really a cool vibe. We complement each other’s style a lot when it comes to DJing.
When you perform live, is it like a tag-team, or do you take the stage together?
We’re gonna parachute in together with turntables, and we’ll be connected via WiFi, and we’ll be DJing from up high, 100 feet in the air. That’s the plan, but we have to rehearse – I don’t know if it’s gonna work.
What does each of you bring to Jack U?
We just wanted to make something that was super-hyper, and with no influences. Like making some stuff out of nothing, you know what I mean? Like a 160-bpm record or just some of the things no one else is doing right now. Whether it’s great or not, it’s our ideas that we really love, and we wanted to make them real strong. The whole idea is not to recycle anything, just to come with the freshest ideas, and I think we complement each other in the fact that we just have that energy –we have that outsider feel about music and stuff, you know?
Is there an easy way to describe your solo sound?
I guess really danceable. I bring a lot of that slow-bpm part to the party – stuff like “Express Yourself” or “Earthquake,” and those records that are just like fun and sound crazy. Away from like the whole fist-pumping and cellphones in the club – it’s all about dancing and girls dancing. So my attitude is about bringing dancing back. But I guess you could say that all the things I do, like the R&B records or Major Lazer, it’s like really attention-deficit disorder, the style I have. It’s all over the place.
You’re playing Ultra on Friday and then Sunday with Skrillex as Jack U. Are they your only Miami gigs?
There might be some other gigs on Saturday, but I can’t talk about them. But there are other affiliations having parties, like Mad Decent and Major Lazer, so I might pop in on those. And I’m staying after that – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week, to work on the next Major Lazer album a little bit. We have a studio in Little Haiti we use.
How did you choose the name Diplo?
I meant to always change it, but I never had a good idea. It was something someone gave me, and it was the name of a dinosaur, and it stuck with me.
What did you love about dinosaurs?
I just love that they were giant and weird and crazy, and that they were real. Something that was fantastic and outrageous and crazy.