“We’re not making the world smaller,” says Walshy Fire (a.k.a. Leighton Walsh), one-third of the global hit making behemoth that is Major Lazer. “We’re making the party bigger.”
For Major Lazer, which also includes Diplo (Wes Pentz) and Jillionaire (Christopher Leacock), that is a noble mission, and the trio bring a sophisticated fusion of Caribbean and American music to dance floors across the world. Separately, they’re three distinctive artists with unique perspectives grounded in the vibrant culture of the Caribbean, but together, they’re something unique, something greater than the sum of its parts.
Over the last ten years the group has expanded from a notoriously raucous side project into the biggest musical act in the world: a global supergroup for the 21st century crafting wildly imaginative—and imaginatively wild—songs that have raised the stakes for pop music. In 2015 they hit number one in 22 countries with their era-defining single “Lean On,” featuring French producer DJ Snake and Danish singer-songwriter MØ, and “Cold Water,” their rousing 2016 summer anthem with Justin Bieber, went triple platinum in the U.S. alone.
Over the last ten years, the group has worked with artists from every continent (okay, except Antarctica), some of whom are well-known and some of whom are on their way up: Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, Snoop Lion, Pharrell Williams, Vybz Kartel, among many others. By uniting this loose community of similarly adventurous artists, all of whom are helping to expand the party as well as the possibilities of pop music, Major Lazer have become something more than an American pop act. Instead, they’re truly global in their reach, with billions of streams across various platforms and number-one singles around the world. In March 2016, the trio played to more than half a million fans in Havana, Cuba, a historic event chronicled in the new documentary Give Me Future.
“We create this Carnival atmosphere for people, like a Caribbean party where you’re dancing in the streets,” says Diplo. “That’s the vibe we’re trying to create, the language we’re trying to write. It doesn’t sound like anything else, because no one has done this kind of fusion before. Because of that, we don’t have a roadmap. We don’t always know if we’re doing it right, but we’re going to keep doing it.”
In other words, that party is only just getting started.