To celebrate the BACARDÍ Legacy Global Cocktail Competition, a roundtable was hosted with Major LaZer’s, Jillionaire & Walshy Fire, Ivy Mix, a legendary female mixology boss (her nickname is the Mixtress) and bartending heavyweight, Steve Schneider. Spotify's Zach Pentel led the conversation with what fuels them within their respective industries. They discussed the hustle within the music game and the parallels in the bartending world.
EARMILK got the chance to kick it with Walshy Fire & Jillionaire before they headed to DJ the “ultimate house party”. Right as I walked up, they called out my leopard jacket, but I had also been planning to let them know how incredibly flav their fits were, so they beat me to the punch.
EARMILK: Wait before you say anything let me first off say, the all white fits? So clean. Ok now what you tryna say about my jacket?
MAJOR LAZER: We like it (laughter).
EM: Let’s get to some questions, shall we?
ML: We shall.
EM: So boys, what can we expect from “Music is the Weapon"?
Walshy Fire: I don’t even know if that’s the name anymore. People keep asking that question.
EM: OK cool, let's change the name; we’ll just refer to it as “the next album”
WF: You know what, to be honest witchu we have so much going on with “Light It Up” right now, which is a single that is doing a lot. You know, I think that’s just the focus right now. Summertime is coming; we already got something we want everyone to party to. Let’s do that. Then we’ll probably get back to the album and really come up with a final name and all the stuff. As far as I know, "Light It Up" is out, the song is BAD, chu know bon up road (Jamaican stuff). You don’t know, so everybody, that’s the most important thing right now. Which was not off the last album. It was extended and re-added, a version point 2 kind of vibe. So a lot of people might now know that. They might think that was supposed to come off the next album.
EM: Speaking of "Light It Up" I was just watching the video the other day for that track, it’s a really raw vision, what drove you guys to pair that aesthetic with that specific sound?
WF: I didn’t have anything to do with that treatment or that video but when I heard about the idea I really like it. Me as an African, I don’t really think I’ve seen a video that’s made for the pop world, shot in Africa.
WF: Ever. But I think that’s what we do though. Yo, what’s not happening?
EM: It’s groundbreaking.
WF: Yeah mon. Let’s see what’s not out there. And doing stuff and be really creative about it. Fuse, who is one of the artists on the song, is from there, happened to be there. He was going there for a wedding or a funeral.
Jillionaire: Yeah, he’s always out there.
EM: Ghana right?
WF:Yeah well you’re right, he lives out there. But we felt it was a good time to do it. So Nila flew out and they made it happen. To me, I love that video. I know a lot of people don’t like it, I know a lot of people don’t really understand it, I know a lot of people don’t want to see that.
EM: They’re not used to seeing it yet, which is why it’s the best thing to show them.
WF: Yeah, you know and I know that for a lot of artist that a big conflict. Like do you give something that people are going to be like, yo what the hell was that, I’m so over it. Or do you give them something that is original. We shot an original video for that. Here’s the original video, just to show you how completely different than the one that is out. The first one was lots of fireworks. Basically they had a drone, it’s like a Levis ad. It was a bunch of white kids who are trying to look really…. destitute. I don’t know if you remember the Levis ad with the guy speaking, it was a real popular speech, the fireworks coming up after the guy gives his speech. Honestly Google, “most popular Levis ad ever”
J: Just search, “Levis, fireworks”
WF: The video was just like that. But WAY cheesier. Like I ended up meeting one of the models. They put them out in the desert, tried to make them seem troubled out in the world. So one of the models, I end up going to a nightclub in Miami and met him. He was like, “yo I’m one of the models in the video!” And I was like “yeah I remember seeing you you were definitely one of the most handsome guy I’ve ever seen in my life!” He was like, “yeah I know I really can’t wait for the video to come out!” And I had to break it down for him like, “yo listen that video was cheeeesy bro. I don’t know why we did that.” He was so hurt, I told him like come sit over here with me, we are going to have a good time and just get over this together. So basically, that video is what you may have THOUGHT when you hear the song. Fireworks, light it up. Then you see that video, a funeral. Like a body burning at the end, Light it Up? That shits heavy.
EM: Right. And since we are on the scope of videos, can we talk about "Pon De Floor" for a second and the creative direction of that, Was that Eric Wareheim?
WF: I actually wasn’t part of Major Lazer for that yet. So I have no clue.
J: Yeah that was Eric Wareheim.
EM: Does he just come to you with some shit and you guys are like, “yeah that’s dope, lets go with that.” Or what?
J: We did a trilogy of videos with him, “Pon De Floor”, “Keep It Going” and “Bubble Butt”.
EM: We want to elaborate more on the cheesy factor with your last comment. At EARMILK we like to say we straddle the line underground and mainstream. And one of my favorite things about you guys, is you do that musically. You’re conscious of mixing things people haven’t heard and then hints of things they are familiar with.
WF: Yeah mon, you got to be conscious of it. Not any other group comes from where we come from. No other group has the dynamic we have. Not to diss nobody. Yo, I wouldn’t do that.
EM: But real quick…
J: It’s not dissing. To put things in context, you spend your whole career, hot to put Caribbean music in context. I tell people I play Caribbean music for white people. It’s not to be discouraging to either genre or audience; it’s just what it is. So we have created context, which is able to bridge the gap between what people understand and what they don’t understand. To what you said, mainstream and underground. Mainstream is on the radio. The underground, some people may say yeah it’s cool but I don’t really get it. But we sit in the middle and straddle that line and pass it from one to the other. It’s just about creating context.
EM: What underground artist do you guys really fuck with right now? Someone that’s not mainstream and someone that you’re keeping to yourself.
WF: **Searching for his phone to find the names of people*
EM: Jillionaire you got anything? Give me someone from Trinidad.
J: I listen to a lot of demos that kids sent me. To be honest with you though, there is this group “JusNow” I really fuck with what those guys are doing. It’s two young kids, one guy is from London and one guy is from Trinidad. So it’s like progressive. I’ve been listening to a lot of hip hop from Trinidad recently, I fuck with a lot of Trinidad rap artists. On a global scale, I don’t know. I listen to anything anybody sends me. You put it in my email, and I’ll probably listen to it.
J: You never know when you’re going to find the jewel, something that really stands out.
WF: I do too. I listen to everything that people send me and everything on my soundcloud feed. I do want to answer that question better though, I just gotta open up my laptop, I just downloaded some good shit.
J: I also really like with Kamasi Washington.
EM: You guys actually kind of look alike.
J: Yeah I fuck with him. As terms of shit people would know, that’s who I’m fucking with.
EM: Alright anything else? I know you like pizza a lot.
J: Nah I had to stop eating pizza.
J: Nah they say I’m going to be fat and old.
WF: Yeah you can die now or later.
EM: Ok lastly, is there any connection between your projected album name, “Music Is the Weapon” and the movie about Fela Kuti called “Music Is the Weapon?
WF: There’s a movie?
EM: Yeah! Just tryna see if Kuti had any influence on you guys.
J: I’ve seen it, it actually changed my life. My boy put me on to that shit in 2006 and that’s when they did a remix album. Like updated tracks, Mos Def did one and a couple other people, I was like holy shit this is bananas. I went back and got a lot of old stuff. I was listening to a lot of broken beat and new jazz at the time like Nordic soul type stuff. All of that was heavily influenced by what he was doing in the 70’s. This dude is crazy.
Photo credit: Josh Edelson/AP Images for BACARDI