Trinidad & Tobago native THE JILLIONAIRE fuses the Caribbean sounds of Soca and Reggae with influences of various music genres from around the world. JILLIONAIRE’s brand grows in demand both in collaboration and in his own right. Alongside Diplo and Walshy Fire he is an integral member of Major Lazer, As a solo act he’s had multiple tour runs throughout Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. In the studio JIllionaire frequently teams up with other talented producers including Brooklyn-based producer Richie Beretta with their remix of the Dolls’ Summer of ’93, a breakout remix with rising-producer Phat Deuce for MNDR hit single FEED ME DIAMONDS and his first original release came out earlier this year on Island/Universal with Swedish producer Salvatore Gancacci featuring Sound Boy Sanjin in the summer festival anthem FRESH. The track already has the DJ support from Nervo, Chuckie, Steve Aoki and playlisted on both BBC Radio 1Xtra and Australia’s Triple J.
Can you also talk about the importance of the music industry scene as how you’ve experienced it? How do you see it evolving in the next five years?
There has always been this generational complaint of “Oh, the new music is trash,” or “Oh, the music that came before is whack.” Music is going to continue to evolve and there is little that we can do to stop that evolution. The most we can do is try to give a little bit of ourselves, to have a little bit of input so that we can contribute to the process.
What are some things that you’ve learned about yourself that comes out in your music?
I like to travel and experience new cultures and ideas that reflect itself in the work I produce. All of the tracks that I have worked on have been collaborative and have featured artists and producers from all around the globe. My next single, “Sunrise,” features Fatman Scoop from New York City and Fuse ODG from Ghana, West Africa. It was recorded in London on a beat that I worked on with a Polish producer named Worldwide.
What were some moments from your recent travels that will forever stick with you? Why?
This was a super busy travel year — I went to Cuba for the first time, took two trips to India, really checked out New Orleans and played a bunch of festivals. I also had the opportunity to visit Tel Aviv for the first time. I know a lot of people would say, “Don’t go to Tel Aviv! Don’t go to Cuba!” — but there are young people everywhere that are inspired by our music and just want to have a good time. Partying and feeling good are universal.
What was the first song that you ever wrote entitled? Can you talk about what it has come to symbolize since you’ve entered into the professional life?
I really can’t remember… My production partner Richie Beretta and I have worked on so many songs that never seen the light of day. I think [that] we were too critical of ourselves — we would spend days working on a track and then come back to it and still not be satisfied. After a while, you get more confident and learn to let go and tell yourself that this is done and I am happy with it and it is ready for the world. The first single I ever put out was called “Fresh” and I worked on it with Salvatore Ganacci and Sanjin, who are both from Sweden.
How do you get over any anxiety before hitting the stage to perform live? What are some lessons or tips that you’ve learned from others about doing a stage show?
I don’t really get any anxiety before getting on stage. Whether it is 50 people or 500 people or 50,000 people — you still have to give it 100 percent — nobody out there cares if you’re having a bad day or didn’t get any sleep the night before or got in an argument with your mom. You gotta hit that stage and give the people what they want — once they give you give them that energy they’ll give it back to you a thousand times over.
What was the inspiration behind remixing Charly Black’s “Gyal You a Party Animal”…?
I wanted to deliver something that was catchy and radio friendly, but still maintained a feel-good Caribbean aesthetic.
As part of a musical act that is a global force for good, can you talk about how you see yourself and Major Lazer dominating?
We want to consistently put out good music and work with new and exciting artists from all corners of the globe. Whether it is an up-and-coming artist from Trinidad like Freetown Collective or global superstars like Justin Bieber and Ellie Goulding — we want to continue to shine a light on emerging talents and bridge the gap between the underground and the mainstream.
If you weren’t traveling the world and creating colorful sounds for us to digest and appreciate — what would Jillionaire be doing?
No idea… Probably working at Wells Fargo or somewhere with banging AC and a health plan.