Pop music is increasingly dominated by producers – the people who shape the sound of a recording. A lot of that sound is coming from the world of electronic dance music, or “EDM.”
Their working hours aren’t conventional – often midnight to 5 a.m. The work has an unconventional range, too, from DJing large Las Vegas nightclubs or festivals, to time in the studio with pop superstars like Beyoncé and Justin Bieber.
Grammy-nominated producer Wesley Pentz wears these hats and more. He also runs a record label.
“It’s really hard to stay alive. We almost folded a year ago,” Pentz says.
But Pentz’s career is very much alive. His fans know him better as Diplo.When Pentz was a teen, a friend nicknamed him after his favorite dinosaur, “Diplodocus.” Back then, he says, he sold mixtapes door-to-door in Florida. He loved music but wasn’t really cut out for a band.
“I was never good at playing horns or guitar. But I thought, ‘Why would I want to play guitar when I could play guitar forwards and backwards, mix it up and sample it?'” Pentz said, adding, “I also thought being a DJ was the future of music.”
Maybe that’s hindsight talking. Selling albums was once the music industry’s lifeblood, but EDM with its high-production-value live shows, dense sound and up-to-the-minute remixes fits the current model, where live tours prop up the rest of the industry, and buzz builds through free tracks shared online.
Pentz also runs Mad Decent records, where he distributes his music and a wide array of up-and-coming artists. His label shared a sampling of music on themes of business and the economy. Check out the playlist below.
Listen to the full interview in the player above.