A-Trak & Diplo One-on-One: 12 Fun Facts Every Superfan Should Know
Earlier this month, Diplo invited “RealDJing” purveyor A-Trak onto his Saturday night BBC radio show to show newcomers how it’s done. A-Trak, the last of a dying breed of hip-hop bred vinyl-scratching disc jockeys, put together a flawless session in veteran form, and then followed up this week with a little reciprocation away from the decks. Fast forward.
A-Trak interviewed Diplo for a feature on his Infinite Legroom travel blog, aptly titled “The Infinite Interview,” and its stocked full of fun and out-of-the-ordinary facts about the pair of industry-leading taste makers. Going one-on-one, Diplo with questions and commentary from A-Trak reveal 12 things all superfans should know.
1. Diplo got into Nashville’s graffiti and breakdancing scene at age 14.
“Before I moved to Florida, I lived in Nashville during high school… Nashville’s not really a hotbed for hip-hop culture, but I started doing graffiti there really hardcore and breakdancing. Well, I was trying to breakdance, but I was never any good. This is when I was like 14.” – Diplo
2. He fell in love with hip-hop after hearing a Jimmy Castor Bunch record on Egon’s local Nashville radio show.
“I used to listen to Egon’s show on Vanderbilt [College] Radio… Egon always had guys like Count Bass D on his show and one of those guys had a hip-hop shop that sold paint cans and graffiti markers and stuff. When I started breakdancing the first record that would come on during the dance circles was “It’s Just Begun” by Jimmy Castor Bunch. The beat was sick but the lyrics to that song were so dope. I love hip-hop because I love that song. It was a revolutionary song to me.” – Diplo
3. Diplo hated disco and The Beatles and preferred obscure rock and soul music.
“I hated the Eagles. I hated the Beatles. But I loved all these crazy-ass old psychedelic rock records. I got into soul and R&B a lot. I hated disco until I was like 30.” – Diplo
4. Black music, rave culture and Miami bass of Florida influenced his early DJ days.
“When I moved back to Florida to finish high school, I started trying to DJ… I was in all these shitty outskirts of hip-hop culture, like third wave cities. But Florida was probably the biggest state for DJ culture in America… Rave culture—but also black music. Miami had this black soul music culture. They had disco on lock. And on top of that, Miami Bass! Today, I feel like all roads lead back to Miami Bass.” – Diplo
5. A-Trak tipped Diplo off to disco and mixing but was “too famous” for him back in the day.
“Then, of course, I met you. I think you were a big turning point for me because you got me into a wider array of non hip-hop. You were one of the first DJs I met that was able to do hip-hop—you were like a hero from a hip-hop background—but you were playing other music. I was kind of doing the same thing but you were really in that world. You would mix records in a way where you wouldn’t think twice about it.” – Diplo
6. A-Trak recalls toggling between Ludacris and Britney Spears with Diplo during one of their first show together.
“I remembered something about some of the early shows that you and I did together; you really had routines, in your own way. One time I was playing a set with you and I was about to play Ludacris “#1 Spot” and you’d be like “No, no, please don’t play this. I have a routine with it.” You had transitions of three joints in a row; I remember you had one with Britney “Toxic” and it was all worked out.” – A-Trak
7. Stretch Armstrong, A-Trak and Low Budget taught Diplo his street smarts.
“Low Budget taught me how to DJ for a Philly crowd, which is way tougher: more street, you have to mix quicker and do a lot of call and response and basically be better than all the other DJs in the city. Then Stretch showed me the next level. How to take that style and take it to a bigger audience. And then you showed me the international style, in my opinion. Those three guys are the ones who transformed me more than anyone.” – Diplo
8. Blaqstar, Shadow, and Primo shaped the Mad Decent ethos early on.
“Blaqstarr was the first artist where I was like, “This guy is a prodigy, he could be like Dr Dre.” What he was doing was next-level shit. I still feel like he was the most inspiring producer to me. Blaqstarr, DJ Shadow, and DJ Premier. They would do things that made me feel like, “How do you come up with this?” I wanted to put Blaqstarr’s music out, so “Shake It To The Ground” was the first big single that we put out our own way. That was one of the first videos of that wave that got a million views.” – Diplo
9. A-Trak spotted Diplo’s creativity on Myspace after hearing a mash-up sampling The Simpsons.
“I really remember hearing your creativity and your talent on a production level before it was even really production, when you were doing mash-ups. You would post mash-ups on your Myspace, like I remember when you put that Bart Simpson acapella over [Kinfolk Kia Shine] ‘Krispy.'” – A-Trak
10. RJD2 took Diplo under his wing — where he’d learn production.
“In the beginning all I had was a cassette desk and a SP1200 that was Duey’s. Then I got a SP12 that had more sample time. I learned everything through Acid. RJD2 was the first person to teach me how to put things in a scale. He was a big influence on me, man. He took me under his wing a bit as a producer. I think by accident. I don’t even think he liked me…” – Diplo
11. Diplo was once an elementary school teacher and made a mixtape with his students.
“I was a teacher at Birney Elementary School in Philly. If you look at the artwork on the Hollertronix mixtape, I made that mixtape with those kids. That captured our culture, with me, Low Budget, my boy Tony Larson, who’s Triple Double.” – Diplo
12. Trips to India and Brazil gave Diplo new perspective to follow a career path as a DJ.
“I went to India for six months. It was my first time out of the country, when I was 20. I worked for the Red Cross and then I just bought a motorcycle and rode around and smoked weed. Then there was the Brazil trip. My first trip there was like an extension of Hollertronix. I was starting to DJ more and I wanted to quit my job. It was driving me crazy.” – Diplo
Original interview via Infinite Legroom.