8 facts we learned in Diplo’s interview with Oxford Union
DJ, producer, songwriter, and entrepreneur, it’s no question that Thomas Wesley Pentz, aka Diplo, has risen to A-list status in the music and entertainment industry. So, it’s only fair that The Oxford Union — one of the world’s most prestigious debating societies — welcomes him as a guest on their Q&A series. Oxford Union has hosted a wide range of international guests at the University, ranging from prominent political figures to the Game of Thrones cast and John Mayer.
“I never imagined my career would take me somewhere like this.” – Diplo
In this 56-minute long Q&A, Diplo essentially sits down in front of a room of Oxford students (most of whom are itching for him to check out their USB or at the very least sign it), and explains who he is, what he does, and how he got there. For those readers who are unfamiliar with his back-story and are interested, this is probably as good as it gets. But for those who are well-informed on all things Diplo — DA has picked out eight facts that we found interesting about Pentz in this Q&A.
1. He almost drowned in the Ganges River because his crazy friend Brent said it was safe to jump in.
“I was for sure I was gonna die in this river…I remember seeing a little girl pointing at me from the riverside screaming that there’s a dead guy in the water.” This story stems from Diplo explaining his early days as a 19-year-old collecting records in India. “I decided I had to get rid of Brent, he was crazy.” (@ 3:30)
2. He paid for a $1000, 6-month trip to India by selling vinyl records in England.
He starts the Q&A by talking about his first time in England (in perfect context), explaining how he managed to travel around the country and sell 100 vinyl records that he collected from the depths of India. “Back then, people were actually buying and selling records.” (@ 6:00)
3. He never thought being a DJ could be considered a career.
“When I was younger there weren’t people that said you can make electronic music or you can be a DJ and that’s how you can live your life.” This stemmed from explaining why he moved to Philly after growing up in Florida, since you “kinda go there to die.” (@9:30)
4. To this day, his father still thinks he deals drugs.
He gets into talking about how as a young person it’s hard to get into a truly creative job while affording to pay the rent and such. He then asks the room if their parents are happy with them pursuing creative careers and while some are, it appears Mr. Pentz Sr. still doesn’t quite understand how his son pays the rent. (@11:15)
5. A writing opportunity for FADER turned into a trip to Brazil where he learned how to produce music.
After writing a cover story about Atlanta hip-hop, Pentz was given an opportunity to write about Brazil for the editor of FADER. However, the editor decided he was a much better writer and would write a story about Diplo going to Brazil. “I was fascinated by this music called baile funk…it’s a combination of almost heavy metal and miami bass.” He utilized the premise of a big magazine story to get into the studio with Brazilian artists and, without knowing any Portuguese, was able to communicate through technical music terms and learn production programs. (@ 13:00)
6. Tiesto experiences jaw pain from smiling so much.
No, we cannot actually confirm this, but damn if he doesn’t look so happy up there.
He did actually ask Diplo how he performs without the smiles, since (as fans will know) he’s always looking so calm and collected on the 1’s and 2’s. “Tiesto came by to me and he’s like ‘how do you always DJ…and like…you don’t haveta smile the whole time like I do…’ It’s a show sometimes…but it’s still fun for me.” (@22:30)
7. His very first gig involved “tape cassette DJing” and scaring families away from the pool.
A student in the audience asks about his very first gig, to which he explains how he had no idea what he was doing an ended up getting cut off by the hotel. “I played whatever records I had…I didn’t realize you had to create a rhythm and an environment.” He goes on to say how back then there were no real examples of who he could look up to as a DJ or how to make a living out of it. (@39:00)
8. His longest day job was at Subway…and he didn’t like it very much.
“We got robbed so many times I had to quit.” He reminisces on that experience in explaining how blessed he is to make music for a living. (@46:30)
Diplo’s California EP is out now along and he continues to release music via side projects LSD (with Labrinth & Sia) and Silk City with Mark Ronson. See him perform at this summer’s biggest festivals including Tomorrowland, Moonrise, HARD Summer, and more.