Switch Talks Major Lazer, the New Album, and the Ultra Fest

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Left to right: Switch, the Major, and Diplo
What do you need to know that you don't already know? Over the last few years, Switch (real name Dave Tayor) has become one of the most massive masterminds of mash-up music in this new-ish millennium. He and Diplo (real name Wesley Pentz) were the guys behind M.I.A.'s Pineapple Express-powered hit "Paper Planes." He also produced parts of Santigold's self-titled debut album. And, last June, he and Diplo teamed again to launch Major Lazer, a zombie-slaying, prosthetic-limbed, laser-armed hipster dancehall project.

Just last week, Switch fielded some questions from the New Times on subjects like evil bloodsuckers, concept albums, the Ultra fest, cartoons, and Skerrit Bwoy.

New Times: Where's Major Lazer right now? Off hacking vampires into chunks or something?

Switch: Yeah. That's exactly what we do everyday.

With the character and back story and the complexity of the whole thing ... Is Guns Don't Kill People, Lazers Do a concept album?

I guess it's a concept. But really, at the end of the day, it's an excuse for me and Wes [Diplo] to indulge a little bit in our fascination with everything dancehall. And it's a good excuse to get out to Jamaica and have a party.

You and Diplo will be dropping some Lazer tunes at the Ultra Music Festival here in Miami. When was the last time you performed this stuff in concert?


It must've been like during last summer over in Europe. We did a huge tour for all the festivals and stuff.

And that was the tour that coincided with the release of the first album.

Pretty much. I'm kinda hoping this time around more people will know the music. It's not a lot of fun touring a first album when people haven't had a chance to sort of soak it up properly and become familiar enough to have fun with it. I feel like people have given the record a chance now. It's gonna be good fun going out on the road this time. People actually know the records. Fingers crossed, we'll get a good reaction.

The Ultra date is kicking off the new Lasers Never Die tour, right?

Yeah. It's actually the first comprehensive American tour that I've personally ever been on. We're looking forward to that. We're taking Rusko with us. We just got back from Kingston on Friday and we've been out there recording the new album. So we're gonna have a studio on the tour bus to finish up.

For the new album, who have you worked with?

So far, we have Beenie Man, Elephant Man, Sean Paul. We took Lykke Li out to Jamaica. People like Gyptian and Bugle ... Too many, really. It's still in development. But we definitely feel a lot more confident about this album than the last one.

Will any of the new tracks worm their way into the show?

Definitely. I mean, me and Wes always work like that anyway as DJs. You know, whatever we're working on gets road tested. Especially since in the tour bus studio we'll be developing and working on stuff before and after the shows.

Do you have any other gigs during Winter Music Conference week -- Major Lazer, solo, or whatever?

No. I think we're only there in Miami for two days. But there's a Mad Decent party where everyone and his mum are gonna play. I'll probably grab a little half an hour and play some George Benson. (Laughs) It should be cool.

Has the Major Lazer live experience evolved in the 10 months since you dropped the debut album?

To be honest with you, the live show side of things is mainly down to Wes more than me. I'm more in the studio. But we are putting something together that'll be pretty special. We now have Skerrit Bwoy who's proven to be a little superhero. And Adult Swim is making Major Lazer into a cartoon series, which should premiere sometime next year. So we're having Ferry Gouw, who does all the artwork, put a specific DVD animation thing together for the show. And, obviously, Skerrit Bwoy is more than enough entertainment as a front man.

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