As popular as the First Friday series at the Guggenheim has been, no one was prepared for the mayhem that ensued when Diplo (a/k/a Wes Pentz) spun there two weeks ago. Lines wrapped around the museum, and
people waited as long as an hour in freezing temps. Beforehand, I asked the white-hot Philly jock about baile funk, guilty pleasures, and his record collection.
What made you want to be a DJ? In Florida, you gotta decide if you want to be a hippie, a football player, in a metal band, or a gold-chain-DJ type with a lowered Honda. Those are the only four options. I just mashed it all up.
What was the first record you bought for yourself? I bought Digable Planets’ “Rebirth of Slick” on vinyl and “Born to Roll” by Masta Ace when I was a teenager.
How did you amass your record collection? I used to make a living of
buying record collections at flea markets and selling them on eBay as “formerformerdiplodocus.” I got kicked off like three times for fucking up.
What is your most prized record? Maybe Eugene McDaniels’s Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse, or Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. As a club DJ—the Unruly Records’ official bootleg, or “Galang.”
What record is your guilty pleasure? All of ’em these days; I can’t take hip-hop that seriously. I doubt most artists do either.
What is the craziest thing you ever saw at a baile funk bash? Once I saw a rocket launcher on some 16-year-old’s back. At a party. I didn’t understand what the fuck that was for until I saw the armored police cars.
What accomplishment are you most proud of? Finding a way to make money that doesn’t suck.
What do you listen to at home? My space heater.
What was the last good book you read? I lost this one book I started reading on Benjamin Franklin. He was a pimp.
What’s the next club trend? More kids making their own edits and music to take to a club. I make about 80 percent of my own music and edits, ’cause I like to put on something that no one else has. That’s all you got in Brazil. It’s not about us being the vending machine.
What do you think of DJs who can’t mix? It only takes like two hours—max—to learn how to mix records if you have someone to help you. I’m starting to think about the art behind absolutely not mixing at all too. Some of my ex-girlfriends are geniuses at randomization nonmixology.
How do you feel about Serato and other computerized DJ technology? Poor vinyl. R.I.P.
Standard Intrusive Celebrity Question: Did you and M.I.A. both move to Brooklyn?We don’t really live anywhere.
Are you both surprised at the success you’ve had this year? I’m just glad we shook everything up a bit. That’s all that matters. We didn’t sell a lot, and we’re not on TRL, but artists and a&r’s might have to start thinking about grassroots shit again. There are a lot of kids who think popular music sucks.
What producers are you excited about? I don’t know; I guess I’m still waiting. I’d like to hear some more stuff from Bangladesh from Memphis, who did 8 Ball and MJG; Salih Williams; Spike Jonze’s brother, Sam, who did Karen O’s folky stuff for the Adidas commercial; Jay Dee in Detroit; and Soulwax.
What was the last great live show you saw? Need New Body in Philadelphia, the Roots, Deerhoof, and TV on the Radio. The Roots are just weird. I’m so proud that they come from Philly.
What do you think of these odd musical pairings—like the Cure with OutKast? That one just happened to be in tune. The kids in Hollertronix always thought it was a classic. Anything mixes with OutKast. They don’t even count.