Walshy Fire 'makes the world smaller and the party bigger' 

Major Lazer's electronic Jamaican dancehall shakes up Garf's

click to enlarge Playing with fire
  • Playing with fire

Walshy Fire of Major Lazer is holed up in the Brandsville Hotel in Guyana waiting for his next show, having just flown in from a big night at Mas Camp in Jamaica.

It's a kind of Caribbean milk-run tour of electronic dancehall, with partying and palm trees and ocean waters at skin temperature. It sounds like clubland perfection.

The producer and DJ has never been to Whistler before and to him it seems like a world away — there are other gigs in the Cayman Islands and New Year's Eve in the States first. He performs at Garfinkel's on Thursday, Jan. 9.

"It was a totally wild show in Jamaica, I performed, Diplo, Skrillex, Shaggy did. We were totally supported by the fans, there were so many people," Fire says.

"We're trying to make the world smaller by making the party bigger. It's really what we're trying to do."

Major Lazer is an electronic dancehall project formed in 2009 by Los Angeles-based DJ, Diplo.  Described as a "selector extraordinaire" and MC, Fire joined Major Lazer in 2011, coming from Grammy Award-winning Black Chiney of Miami. Jillionaire is the third member of the group.

"I still perform with Black Chiney when I get the chance. It's difficult because we're so busy," Fire says.

The three collaborate together and perform separately, with that flexibility that allows them make music beyond a pigeonhole. This means there are a lot of talents producing music with Major Lazer in free association, including Beyonce, Rita Ora and M.I.A.

There was one album in 2013, Free the Universe, which came out in April, with hits "Watch Out For This" and "Get Free." A Major Lazer Presents mixtape featuring Fire and Chronixx called Start a Fire came out earlier in the year.

The sounds run from the smooth, soulful singing of collaborator Amber from The Dirty Projectors in "Get Free" to the bizarre twerk-fantasy-parody of "Bubble Butt," put together with the capable assistance of Bruno Mars, 2-Chainz, Tyga and Mystique.

Upcoming releases include a mixtape called Suns of Dub, done in collaboration with Addis Pablo, which is being touted as part of the reggae revival movement.

As well, there is a new Major Lazer EP coming out in the summer of 2014. They are solidly busy.

"The EP, we don't have a name for that yet but it's all new material. We've been in and out of the studio, then gigs. It's been nonstop, man. We did 30 tracks in a few weeks. Crazy," Fire says.

Out of that mother lode of potential, half will make the cut, he adds. Being experimental, even avant-garde, is important to Major Lazer.

"Some of the tracks shout out at you but it's very hard (to choose what makes the final EP). When it comes to our work we are blurring all lines, taking away the genres, just making great music," Fire says. "It's really funny how it hasn't happened on a bigger scale yet, everybody sticks with their genre. In my opinion, it's really weird when you think of how far we've come. Hopefully, everyone else is doing it while we're doing it now, and will continue just to make great music that is genre-less."

Whistler will get a definite taste of this through Fire's gig.

"People in Whistler are going to get a little bit of everything. We're going to play some reggae, dancehall, hip hop — I really like old school hip hop — so there will be plenty of that. And, of course there's going to be some dance music and the mash ups," Fire says.

Andrew "DJ Scovie" Brown, who is bringing Fire to Whistler, says Major Lazer's overall work is "on a whole other level."

"It is hard to describe them in some ways. You have to come to the show and figure it out for yourself," Brown says.

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