Major Lazer's Walshy Fire Advises "Dress for the Mess" at Mad Decent Block Party
Florida has been getting a bad rap lately. And though it may seem at times like we're a lost cause, that assessment isn't entirely fair. We're actually a global cultural force that spawned Major Lazer, one of dance music's most inspiring and original outfits. Members Diplo and Walshy Fire are home-grown goods, the latter coming straight from Miami-Dade County. Along with their buddy Jillionaire, these guys travel the world bringing Caribbean-style beats, peace, and love to the masses.
Photo by: Ian Witlen
And of course, their favorite thing to do is to bring that lovin' right back to the place where it all started.
Major Lazer played both weekends of Ultra Music Festival in March, and for Miami's Walshy Fire, it was a new high. National media outlets helped spur interest in the group's highly entertaining live show, reminding partiers that Walshy -- born Leighton Paul Walsh in Kingston -- was one of the only Miami-raised performers at the fest.
"The second one was definitely the greatest moment of my life," Walshy confesses. "It felt so good to represent Miami globally and go everywhere -- and represent the Caribbean also everywhere I go -- and then come home and see all those flags. All those people that were like, 'Yo, you're from Miami? We had no clue.' It was the highlight of my life, no question."
Major Lazer is successful because of its full package. Its live performances are literal hype machines. It's a colorful, quirky experience full of island dancing, confetti, stage-diving, hamster-ball-walking -- you kind of have to see it to believe it.
"We are, at its foundation, a representation of the Caribbean, and if you are Caribbean yourself or if you know anything about Caribbean culture, you'd know that it's so interactive," Walshy points out. "If we didn't add those elements to the show, it just would not be true to the foundation that we're mixing EDM with."
But it's not just Caribbean culture they integrate into their music and shows. Walshy prides himself and his crew on bringing in a little bit of everything, thus becoming a reflection of everyone.
"People have called me 'the ambassador of culture' just because I'm so good with languages and so good with different cultures, and I know so many things about so many different people," he admits. "I want you to walk away and feel so proud that you are what you are and so proud that we're onstage representing for you, no matter where you come from in the world."
Unfortunately, in modern dance music, this makes Major Lazer the exception, not the rule.
"Looking at other people's EDM shows and just realizing that their show is probably 95 percent just lights, and I don't know how long you can do that," he said. "How long can you watch that before you figure it out?"
It's true; EDM has gotten stale.
"For some reason, it kind of is the big elephant in the room," Walshy reflects. "How can we not acknowledge that dance music has definitely slowed down and stalled?"
Of course, the only reasonable response is to become the antithesis of status-quo mediocrity.
"I'm so thankful to be a part of a team full of people who are constantly seeking out new sounds and new ways to distort sounds and new ways to inject new vibes into EDM," he says. "If I wasn't, man, I'd die already. I would have killed myself. I would have jumped off of the last Holy Ship. I would have said, 'Hey, everybody at Ultra, this is my last show,' and I would have just retired, because I can't continue to do the same thing over and over again and still be satisfied."
What would be a death warrant for Walshy Fire reigns supreme in the dance music world, but for how long?