how mike skinner changed walshy fire and jillionaire's lives
We’re on the rooftop terrace of a hotel in Corsica. There’s a warm breeze and free drinks and a sound system. Jillionaire and Walshy Fire, who have replaced Switch alongside Diplo in Major Lazer, have been flown in to play an exclusive Marc Jacobs...
You've just landed to play this party. Where did you fly in from?
Jillionaire: I don't know. Japan?
Walshy Fire: Outer space?
Describe your musical journey in five tracks.
J: Oh, man. Prince, When Doves Cry. I remember recording songs like that and Santana off the radio. And Machel Montano, Big Truck.
WF: Robin S, Show me Love. That changed my life. As a youth, there was this song by Barry White, called Look at Her. To this day, it's one of those songs that if I hear, I have to stop everything I'm doing and take it in.
J: The Streets, Original Pirate Material.
Really? That's kind of unexpected.
J: Yeah. It's definitely one of my top three albums of all time.
WF: It was the first time I heard an English accent, how it normally sounds, on a record. I would listen to it back and try to understand what he had said. That was the first time I ever heard anything like that. You couldn't avoid his dopeness. Then it's this guy just rambling. He's just like "yo bruv. It's The Streets here and I'm having tea. And I'm drinking it. And what what what." And it was like "Yo, he really did that? He really just talked for three minutes?"
J: It was a defining moment.
Have you ever been to Birmingham, where Mike Skinner is from?
WF: Yeah man. Birmingham is where people get punched in the face. It's one of wildest, rowdiest shows we ever did. I got my jacket stolen. By a girl. Who would've punched me in the face if I'd asked for it back. They moshed the entire show. It was one of those things where you could tell they leave with blood on their shirts, like "Yes! We had a great night!"
So you rate the UK music scene?
J: England is probably the most musically rich country I've ever been to. It's so far forward.
J: The thing about the UK, more than anywhere else, is that people are willing to experiment. It's the most diverse place I've ever been: you have Caribbean and African and Latin American influences. They start young, you get these musicians who are like 16-years-old, and they make music across all genres. It always feels about three to six months ahead of what everyone else is doing.
More than New York?
WF: Yah man. Come on, New York is whack. It's one of those places where you feel everyone is either trying too hard or not hard enough. While in London, you're definitely going to have groups of people who aren't concerned about what's happening outside of their circle. They're just making good music and then all of a sudden it gets out. I remember the first time I heard garage, I thought that was the greatest music on earth. I've never been to a garage party in my life but I know from the couple of times we've played in London and dropped a garage song, how the place goes completely fucking bananas - that that was the party you actually went to and left sweaty and stinky but didn't care and the girls didn't care.
What about A$AP and the stuff coming out Harlem?
WF: The New York sound is hopefully trying to find it's way back but it's been gone for a long time.
What happened to the New York sound?
WF: It's strange to meet someone who's actually from New York. It's like "woah, you actually went to high school here?" It's a place that's full of out-of-towners and it's hard for a place to have an identity when nobody's from there. It's cool, but it's not unique.
How has Major Lazer changed shape since you joined?
WF: I think it's just years and years of experience as far as what we've been doing individually, as far as representing Trinidad and representing Jamaica. Bringing that authenticity to what's happening. Not that that wasn't there before in some form. But you're probably not going to find two guys more knowledgeable about Soca and Reggae and Dancehall who are able to incorporate that into a show.
Text Oscar Quine
Photography Kris Maccotta