Walshy Fire of Major Lazer – In A Major Way
A Moment with Walshy Fire
By D’annie Grandison
Whenever you want to know who a person is now-a-days, you can “Google” them and if their life is measured by any commercial success, you will find them on Wikipedia. When I started this interview with Walshy Fire, that was one of my first questions. I wanted to know how he describes who he is to people who do not know about him or what he does. His response was simple. “I am a Global Citizen who does many things”. Beyond the Jamaican adage of having ten jobs, he is a man of many talents. He is a producer, MC, selector, journalist, musician, one third of the world famous Major Lazer, and a sharp businessman.
Reflecting on his success, humble beginnings, and the legacy he wants to create, we talked about the pieces of him that ultimately give a glimpse into the mind of this man who is on a mission to educate people through music and chant the spirit of Bob Marley’s “one love, one heart” philosophy while using the universal language of music to promote peace and happiness wherever he goes.
Walshy Fire was not always the man he is now, conscious and focused on his craft. Like every story of hard work, application of self, commitment, dedication, and overcoming obstacles, the fruit of success is yielding it’s rewards. Walshy Fire takes nothing for granted and explains why he won’t rest on his laurels.
How did you get into music? How much of that is in your DNA verses a skill you learned and mastered along the way?
I was always into music. Music was always into me. I have been blessed to be in places like Kingston and Miami that cut your navel string with music.
When did you begin to feel famous and how hard had you worked for that feeling?
I don’t feel famous and never will.
I get the humility, but was there a time like for example when you saw your picture with Rhianna and Katie Perry celebrating your birthday on Wendy Williams’, “HOT Topics” or any other time when you felt like, “Ok, I’m a little more than a regular guy. When did it sink in you were a part of something big?
No, I never felt famous. But, I definitely felt like I was a part of something bigger the first time I did a Major Lazer show in San Francisco. I had never felt that energy and unity before.
You and I are friends so I know you have always been working on your dream. But, I don’t think people are aware of the fact you have a master’s degree. What role would you say continuing education played in your success?
A huge one. I was able to step outside of my box and get to meet people from cities that had their own musical scene. DC Go-Go, Detroit Juke, New Orleans Bounce, etc. I learned it all in college. It still helps me continue to understand the differences we have in this world.
Tell us about some of the people you’ve worked with and which ones made an impact on your life?
Pharrell had a big impact. His work ethic was unmatched. Made me feel like I’m not doing enough. Diplo and Machel Montano as well. They both are amazing inspirations. Huge, Huge.
List a few projects you’ve worked on and share with us some of your favorite collaborations.
The last two Major Lazer albums and my collaboration with Chronixx on the, “Start A Fyah” CD. I also hosted the Vice series on reggae Noisey Jamaica II where we placed the spotlight on some of the new younger generation of positive, influencial reggae artists like Chronixx, Protoje, and more. I’ve been really blessed to have worked on collaborations I am gratified of.
What projects are you currently working on and which ones are you looking forward to in the future?
I am currently doing a Ski Movie soundtrack and the next Major Lazer album. I also have a radio program on Apple Beats Radio.
What are you the proudest of in your life, career wise? What makes you feel like a success?
Having Major Lazer’s “Lean On” be #1 in the world.
Getting to number one in the world must not have been easy. Frederick Douglass once said, “Without struggle there is no progress”. What are some of the struggles you had to overcome in order to get where you are? What lessons did you learn during those struggles?
A lot of struggles. I am from straight poverty. Everyday is a struggle.
Tell me a little more about that.
That concept of knowing someone is working almost 20 hour days just to get you to America to be with your mom is my life. My mother was working all those hours while I lived in Jamaica with my grandmother just so I could come to America for a better opportunity at life.
Was it the “American Dream” when you were able to move to America back then?
Landing in America was a different kind of poverty.
One was bricks. The other was zinc fence but the same struggle.
You’ve performed in front of millions of fans and you’ve toured the world a few times over. How incredible has that been? What have you learned about cultures and people?
We are all the same. Just one human race.
What would you say to someone who only thinks about America as the backyard of a successful music career?
With the internet, they can get exposure anywhere in the world. This is a new day and age for exposure. Having YouTube pays now and you can get live show money. The structure for an artist is completely different. So, you can be in the farthest corner of the world and still get heard.
What do you think the difference is between the fans here in the US and the fans abroad?
America runs the entertainment industry so fans abroad always passionately want to see their favorite American acts while in America fans see these people in the mall.
I have known you since high school. We went to the prom together and when I see how hard you’ve worked to accomplish what you have, it makes me feel proud of you. It reminds me anything is possible. I know your family must be proud. How does your family help you to stay grounded?
Yeah, high school was fun. Thank you for making my prom vest, lol. As for my family, my twin sons humble me every day.
We grew up in Miami and looking back at our graduating class, I would say you are the most famous. In a way, I can’t say I’m surprised because there was always something about you. I remember when you did that Slick Rick, “Once Upon A Time Not Long Ago” video parody. Everyone could not stop talking about that. It was hilarious. You were creative then and I’ve watched that creativity blossom into this amazing legacy you are building. What would you say to that kid reading this article who believes a life like yours is an unreachable wish?
I really need to take that video off of VHS and upload it to the internet. The world needs to see that. Shoot, where is that? I did a few music videos back then. Wow, high school was fun. Big up North Miami Beach Chargerrrrrs #4life!
I would say to all the kids and even adults, everything is possible. Just work. Don’t think about it. Work. Don’t sleep. Work. Don’t go waste time with stuff like smoking, drinking, gangs, and hoes. Just work and you will definitely see the reward. The most important lesson I learned is if you can stay focused to the task, you will be great. Do not get distracted from your goals.
Seh smoothen fi di fans dem (yardies)
Say something for the island fans out there (others)
Mannaz and Respek. Believe me, I come from nothing. A place many only want to see you suffer. Believe in yourself. Pick yourself up any time you fall and keep going. Stay focused. One Love.