Walshy Fire on Dancehall Vibes and Major Lazer

Major Lazer is a global phenomenon. They’ve conquered both the EDM world and mainstream music, with their blend of world music and spine tingling drops. Together, Walshy Fire, Jillionaire and Diplo have enscapsulated all the borders they’ve travelled, in their songs, taking listeners through genres like moombahton, baile funk, soca and dancehall.

The latter may have been heavily influenced by the introduction of Jamaica native, Walshy Fire to the group in 2011. Walshy had already been playing dancehalls as part of the group Black Chiney for years, and his addition to Major Lazer solidified their sound, as they prepared to Free the Universe. For Walshy, the growth from playing basement dancehalls to crowds of up to 120,000 people at Pukkelpop was instantaneous. His meeting with Diplo couldn’t have come at a better time, as he’d given in his resume to be a substitute teacher, weeks before he joined Major Lazer.

If there was anything that could have prepared him for his new jetset life, it was his time in the Dancehall. It was there that Walshy picked up the mic, and in the tradition of the Dancehall, would speak to the crowd frequently and intelligently, something he still does at Major Lazer shows. It hasn’t been the norm for DJ’s in North America, they’re usually a quiet lot, save for the same “get your hands in the air” quips that fire up the crowd. When Walshy speaks, its endearing and funny and smart, and completely not something you would expect while half-convulsing to songs like Watch Out For This and this summer’s viral hit Lean On. Walshy really brings a balance to Major Lazer, he brings the good vibes of Dancehall to the group, and has been responsible for organizing a few of the trio’s collaborations with Jamaican artists.

The trio released Free The Universe in 2013 and their follow up Peace is The Mission is due in coming weeks. It’ll be interesting to see how their sound evolves, as a quick look at the track listing for this album is stock full of features with artists from different genres like Pusha T, Travi$ Scott and Wild Belle. Major Lazer are definitely the most genre blending EDM artists around right now, and if the viral reaction to Lean On is any indication, it’s sure to once again soundtrack our summer.

We sat down with Walshy after his solo set, and talked more about the successful pairing of Caribbean and Dancehall music, and how Major Lazer was able to bridge the gap between the two.