Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 12th 2013 Contents B3
As a member of the buzz-generating DJ
outfit Major Lazer, Trinidadian Chris
Leacock interacts regularly with pop
music stars. Usher, Rita Ora and Ezra Koenig, lead
singer of the band Vampire Weekend, are just a
few of the well-known artistes who have worked
with the trio.
But when asked to name the person he d been
most excited to meet in the four years he s been
with the group, Leacock---aka Jillionaire---pointed
to the comparatively obscure 61-year-old British
radio DJ David Rodigan, who for decades has been
helping to promote Jamaican music in that country.
Rodigan was last year appointed a Member of the
Order of the British Empire for his work.
Rodigan s influence was one of the reasons a
boy from Chaguanas wanted to work the turnta-
bles, persevering despite the hard times many DJs
see, until he s now touring the world, selling out
shows across Europe.
"His music and his style [are] timeless," Leacock
said of Rodigan in an e-mail exchange. "And he
continues to mash up the dance and introduce
new audiences to reggae and dancehall."
This is much like Major Lazer.
The group s second album, Free the Universe,
was released last month to a good reception by
critics and audiences. Featuring a dizzying array
of pop vocal talent, including Wyclef Jean, Shaggy,
and Santigold, the record is a playful showcase of
almost every modern musical style, with dancehall
Their debut album Guns Don t Kill People...
Lazers Do spawned the popular single Pon De
Floor. With Vybz Kartel on vocals, the song was
made into a video featuring eye-popping demon-
strations of the erotic dance moves Jamaicans call
"daggering" and later used to produce the Beyonce
hit Run the World (Girls).
Major Lazer was founded by DJs/producers
Diplo (Wes Pentz) and Switch (Dave Taylor). Lea-
cock met Switch when Switch visited Trinidad in
2006 to work on some tracks with British rapper
"We had some friends in common, and we hung
out and worked on some things," said Leacock.
He later met Diplo and contributed work to
Guns Don t Kill People that didn t make the final
cut. When Switch and Diplo parted ways in 2011,
Diplo asked Leacock and Jamaican DJ Walshy Fire
(Leighton Walsh) to join the combo.
Diplo, who was nominated for a Grammy this
year for his work with Justin Bieber, No Doubt,
Snoop Lion and others, played in Trinidad in 2011
at Show & Tell, an occasional arts and media talk-
shop hosted by the ad house AbovegroupOgilvy,
at the Fernandes Compound, Laventille.
He and Leacock returned earlier this year for
Carnival. The team worked on a remix of Bunji
Garlin s Differentology, overlaying the soca hit
with a hard, throbbing dance beat. They have
been playing it and JW and Blaze s 2010 Road
March Palance at their live shows. (The latter, said
Leacock, is "one of the biggest songs we do in
terms of crowd reaction.")
It s the Differentology remix that has garnered
for Major Lazer the attention of listeners in T&T,
where the electronic dance music scene is growing
but still small.
"I never actually knew that Trinidad cared what
we were up to till we put out that Differentology
remix. And now the Internet won t leave me alone,"
"Which is great!" he added. "Our agent says
we get more requests from Trinidad now than
anywhere else, including South Florida (where
Diplo is from)."
Major Lazer has played Jamaica and a handful
of other Caribbean islands but not yet T&T. That s
going to change, said Leacock.
"We re working with a few friends down in
Trinidad on putting our own show together so
that we can get it just right," said Leacock. "This
is something that we really want to do as soon
as our touring schedule opens up a little bit."
In the meantime, other soca collaborations are
in the works.
"We re working on two tracks with Machel
Montano for our next EP. One is a 4/4 thing with
Pharrell and the other is a power soca. We just
did a remix for [US rapper and musician] Mack-
lemore with [T&T producer] 1st Klase and Swappi.
I m working on something with Shurwayne. And
we definitely wanna work with Kees and that
Jillionaire, who now lives in Los Angeles, will
be returning to T&T for a stint at the Zen nightclub
on May 29. Co-conspirator Walshy Fire will play
Outside of Major Lazer, Leacock is working on
an EP and his own record label, Feel Up Recordings.
Major Lazer, meanwhile, is carrying the driving
rhythm and sometimes-crazy euphoria of
Caribbean music concerts to an international audi-
ence. On April 29, the group tweeted a photo of
a fan in a wheelchair on stage in Utrecht, arms
raised, surrounded by confetti and being given
what looks like a lap dance by a scantily-clad
woman. Smiling, sweat-drenched faces in the
audience look on.
Leacock is matter-of-fact about the excitement
Major Lazer is generating and the modest level
of fame he has attained.
"I m much more excited about being able to
highlight my culture and the work of local artistes
on a global stage," he said. "Trinidad will find
something else to obsess over by the time this
goes to print, but I m just trying to do my little
part to push soca music and our artistes into the
limelight, as clichéd as that sounds."
About the name Jillionaire, he said a friend
"gave me that name as a kind of joke and it just
"Too late to change it now, I guess."
T&T DJ finds Major fame
T&T DJ Chris "Jillionaire" Leacock, of Major Lazer.
PHOTO COURTESY CHRIS LEACOCK
Duchess of Windsor
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