The Philly DJ heads to Brazil to document the frenzied Carioca sounds. View clip from the film, below.
BY A.D. AMOROSI
Everything that Wes Pentz – a.k.a. Diplo – does at this point in his career is soaked in the theology of the lodger, the expansive traveler who makes each world his own. All of his production and DJ work speaks volumes toward that end: look it up. His recent excursions with his electro Jamaican warrior outfit Major Lazer, Lazers Don’t Die delves further into that whip-smart fast dub-a-dub heart of darkness sound he started with Guns Don’t Kill People, Lazers Do. Only now, he’s got Busy Signal, M.I.A. and Miss Banks to do the dirty work of toasting. Meanwhile, his just-released mixtape, Blow Your Head – Diplo Presents: Dubstep (reviewed here) makes a dark, delicious noise while serving up decadently dippy beats.
Yet another recent release, Favela on Blast, goes harder, dirtier and more forward into the darkness – that of Rio, Carnivale, scarred frenzied Carioca sounds, and the harsh and frantic lifestyle around it. Favela on Blast is Diplo’s first “official” documentary film (second if you count the DVD that came with his debut solo album Florida which he barely does), a claustrophobic Herzogian excursion into bright leafy environments, murky shadow worlds and menacingly pulsating sound.
i caught Diplo mere blocks from my house (he, like I, lives in Philly) as he was readying one of several Mad Decent label block parties around the country.
BLURT: Documentary film styling was something more crucial to you than music/DJing at first. What happened?
DIPLO: I’ve always wanted to make films. I went to school for it. I was just broke and my movies sucked. I’m just lucky to have been doing music this long and found an avenue for all of it. If I start to suck at music too, then I hope I can be good at something. Maybe voiceovers?
Give me your fifteen-word-or-less review of Florida‘s DVD film.
Too many drugs plus music experiments make me feel funny.
When did documenting Brazil become an idea for you? What did you see first that captured the cinematic eye?
If you have no talent at all as a cinematographer or a director, I suggest going to Brazil. It makes everything you shoot look 700 times better because it’s better looking, shadier, scarier, hotter, and busier then anywhere else in the world. Plus the fact that we were shooting hotter, busier, scarier places helped a bit!
Are you a fan of Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo? Favela on Blast has that look…
I love all of Herzog’s films, especially his shorts. I love his sense of humor as well as his subject matter. He’s Leandro’s [Leandro HBL, Diplo’s directing partner] favorite director.
How do you see this cinematic exploration of Brazil/Favela culture and the hard Jamaican dagger-happy jam that you’re doing on Major Lazer?
The only real connection is that they both concern dance music outside of America yet have roots in American music. I like that my projects have identity. Major Lazer is a crew, about 20 of us. It seems more like a punk band the more I travel with it. Favela is the beginning of my crew doing films, I hope. I just had to make enough music for people to pay attention to me, so I hope it keeps moving forward.