Major Lazer's Walshy Fire on Most EDM Stars: "These Guys Aren't DJing"

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A longtime Miami-area club DJ and radio personality with 96 Mixx FM, Walshy comes to Major Lazer after years revving up crowds with Black Chiney Sound, the local reggae DJ crew known for dusting off sound bwoys worldwide with their wicked selection of dancehall dubplates and hip-hop remixes.

Crossfade spoke with Walshy about his new role in the group, why most EDM shows suck, and which part of Florida Diplo really comes from.

Crossfade: What has the experience been like coming from a sound system like Black Chiney that is doing mostly reggae parties to being in Major Lazer, which is touring rock and EDM festivals?

Walshy Fire: It's just been great education. Where I come from is the Miami bass world and the reggae world, and you travel the world with somebody like Diplo, who's traveled the world like eight times and really grasps what's going on out there, it's the best college you can go to. Right now I'm at the Harvard of music. I know things that no one will ever know just because of being with Major Lazer.

Explain your role in Major Lazer. Today when people hear "MC," they usually think "rapper," but that's not what you do.

Major Lazer is basically a Jamaican sound system in its roots. Everything that we do is always rooted in something dancehall or reggae. On your Jamaican sound systems, you have a selector and you have your MC. Basically, [Diplo] is the selector and I'm the MC. He's the one that picks the records and mixes the records and I'm the one that's out front and presents the records to people, makes speeches that makes the records make sense, and pulls up the records. I give the crowd humor when it's time to give them humor, emotion when it's time to give them emotion, and just keep the whole vibe intense throughout the whole set.

Describe what a Major Lazer live set is like.

If there was a word that was more unique than unique. It really is anything goes, but it's all a familiar language. Just with our interpretation of it. To give people, I think Diplo would agree, what people want, which is something different, man.

I want to really stress, these [EDM] guys aren't DJing. They pre-mix the whole set. This is why there has to be so many lights for so many of these guys. Because they don't have anything unique about them, and they all actually play the same songs, just their remix of it. Some people that's fine for them, they're happy with that. I'm not mad at them. After going to so many of these shows, I see why everybody across the world likes it. It's so basic, you don't have to think hard, and you don't have to know the language. But after a while you kinda go, "So for all you guys who like this but also like other stuff, why don't we do something for you?"

At an EDM festival, I think we're the only group that plays a salsa song... and the place goes crazy. I see other DJs look at us and go that got a lot of love. So yeah, play the hits, but put something else in there and do something different. I think that's what our show is all about. Our delivery is unique, our music is unique, and our fans are unique people.

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Jesse Serwer