Diplo Talks Hip-Hop's Pop Takeover: 'All Pop Stars Are Struggling to Have Great Hits'

Diplo, 2017
John Parra/Getty Images for LARAS

Diplo attends The 18th Annual Latin Grammy Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on Nov. 16, 2017 in Las Vegas.

Diplo is a busy dude. He claims to spend about 150 days a year in the studio, and he says he makes two songs a day on his laptop. Add to that about 300 performances a year, fashion shoots for the newly signed model, and the fact that he's a dad, and the calendar becomes a mess of color-coded insanity. Still, he found time to open up to Vogue Italia in a recent interview that touched on his influences, his mission as an artist and the struggle to make something real in an ever-changing musical landscape.

"When I moved to L.A., I tried to write pop records, but to be honest I did not know how to do it," he told Vogue Italia (all quotes have been translated from their original Italian for the purposes of this article). "I started doing my thing and building my brand. In the end it was successful, but in my own way. I realized that if you are completely independent, you have more power. In L.A. [everyone is] copying each other. All the big pop producers fight to get their first place in the standings ... I do not need to make the record that is first in the standings."

He said the state of pop music is "really bad."

"All pop stars are struggling to have great hits," he said. "Taylor Swift just had to surrender the first position to Cardi B, a rapper, and then Post Malone, another rapper. ... If five years ago you said that would happen, I'd never have believed you."

He thinks it's because streaming opened the lane for kids to pick their own poison. The grip labels once had on pop's direction wanes with each passing season as the industry scrambles to figure its way through post-internet uproar, but for producers like Diplo, that's a good thing. It leaves more room for experimentation, which is the principal tenant of Diplo's approach.

"I've never really been part of the EDM world," he's quoted. "I took advantage of the EDM term when it was very successful to do more concerts, but I've always been an outsider. My first tour I did was with Justice, and that was the first electronic music band that toured America on a bus. Trends last very little, so I never wanted to trap myself into a genre. And it was a bit my strength: If you can be something more than a kind, then you're successful. However, most of the new music-producing boys have never been DJs; they did music with the computer, and they learned after DJs. In the end, they have to change genres because electronic music is so fickle, like hip-hop. All genres are, except pop."

It also opens the door to competition, which Diplo says keeps him on his feet. As long as he's having fun with the music, he promises he'll keep going, and if it ever stops being fun? He might open a pizzeria or something. Mad Decent slices do sound delicious.

Read the full interview via Vogue Italia.


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