Earlier this year I spent several months trying to get an interview with Dave Taylor, otherwise known as Switch, but time wasn’t on my side. Switch is a busy dude. Not only is he recognized for producing under huge names such as Beyonce, Santigold, MIA, Amanda Blank, as well as being ½ of Major Lazer with partner Wes Pentz, AKA Diplo but at the time, his tour for Major Lazer and for Hard Summer Tour were still in effect. Major Lazer has arguably been responsible for a major shift in electronic music, beginning in 2009 with the release of their first album Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do, a heavily reggae influenced full-length, featuring a handful of vocalists mostly from Jamaica where the album was recorded. To add to the hype, his newest song “I Still Love You,” (just played on the Annie Mac Radio 1 show) has received only positive responses. But as luck would have it, I did finally get to catch up with Switch—on Route 5. Here is my story:
We’re on a road trip from L.A. to San Francisco for the Outside Lands Festival; me in the backseat, Switch on the passenger side and Danny Taylor (Dave’s brother and tour manager) driving fast. Dave doesn’t notice the speed and I don’t mention it. Eventually, I fall asleep out of fearand exhaustion—we’d been up most of the night in Switch’s studio, listening to new and past productions. Half an hour later, I wake up feeling better and less scared and we start talking about different TV shows that we’re into. At a quiet moment, Dave turns around and says “So when are we going to do this interview?” I suddenly feel flushed and can’t speak properly. He repeats himself and I say, “I’m nervous and I feel unprepared.” His response is “Why? We’re friends now…we’ve driven almost 200 miles together” He is laughing as he’s saying this. If you’ve ever been in the presence of Dave, you’re laughing roughly half of the time. I ask Dave to describe his surroundings and he says: “my surroundings right now, they don’t have enough toilets in them.” We all laugh and the interview begins.
Okayplayer: At what point did it hit you that this was no longer your hobby but your career?
Switch: When I didn’t have to borrow money off people anymore.
OKP: How did you and Diplo meet?
S: I met him in Camden in London he was DJing for MIA, who I had been doing some stuff with. He was her tour DJ for a while. He had already done a remix of ours and I was like, Oh shit! We only did that a second ago.
OKP: If you could describe him in one word what would it be?
S: Dinosaur. Big, long-neck dinosaur.
OKP: I enjoyed listening to “Throwing Stones” a lot, have you always been a Madlib fan?
S: Yes! Ever since he was invented. There aren’t many people in the world that are unique like him. He’s so good at interpreting pedigree shit that people have overlooked. The way that he samples and puts things together is way in advance. How hip-hop was spawned out of people copying favorite parts of other people’s records–Madlib took that even further. He’s an education.
OKP: You recently came back from Jamaica, were you working on a new project?
S: Still Major Lazer, the album. The album is going to have 1,094 records on it and we’re going to get it remixed (Laughing).
Okayplayer: Why the name Switch?
S: It was a switch from kind of being deep and serious about stuff–we wanted to kind of take cool stuff exactly the way that hip-hop came about. We would take the best bits of something and put our twist on it and make it more it more entertaining and less static, less serious–and so we came up with the name switch. It was an amalgamation of everything we loved at the time, across the board from Fela Kuti to Aretha Franklin.
OKP: Next to each name you’ve produced under, please describe the sound:
Switch – “Switch” was originally Trevor Loveys and I when we were working together. It was set up to be more of a fun project. Everything at the time was serious and deep. It was around 2002 but we were mad into New York, Chicago, any of those alternative dub versions of garage house music. We were listening to a lot of that. Big influences were Basement Jaxx, Derek Carter, Armin Van Helden, all those guys were keeping us entertained. Little pockets of really cool shit; broken beat, that whole west London, Phil Asher, Bugz In The Attic. All those dudes.
A Brucker- At the time I was in a weird place that I couldn’t get out of. So I made up a pseudo name. It was more underground and experimental. The name just came to me.
Solid groove - Was very debated about. Worst name ever. It’s very New York. That for me was the first time I was trying to make music. And realized that you can’t make a living at doing the type of music you like if it’s so underground.
Modular- Was more of a techno sound.
OKP: You still produce under those names?
S: Yeah I do. Still doing Solid Groove. Modular, I haven’t done anything in awhile but now that you’ve reminded me…
OKP: Why not produce everything under one name?
S: I think at the time…I don’t know. That’s a pretty good subject. You can see the reason for doing it; working with different people. For Wes and I, when we work we do it as Major Lazer because it has turned itself into a concept. It gives it a label…like branding it. The reason why I started doing different names for different styles? That’s kind of indicative of how English dance culture was at that time; you had your drum & bass culture; you had your hip-hop culture.
OKP: Weren’t you into drum & bass?
S: Yeah I was. Drum and bass was the first music that I ever had signed, it was on Moving Shadow. It was so different.
OKP: Who would you like to work with in the future?
S: You know who I think is really amazing is Little Dragon. I don’t think they need anything from me. Maybe I could do a remix for them.
OKP: Is there a “go-to” album or artist that you listen to that motivates you to write music?
S: Whenever I get stuck I always go back to whatever made me want to make music in the first place. Nightclubs and kind of watching what people dance to and what people get excited about. Or I listen to the radio. Like Gilles Peterson, who has been on Radio 1 forever. Whenever I’m stuck, I always go back to that because that’s what inspired me in the beginning
OKP: What kind of music are you listening to now?
S: Getting way more into stuff that’s coming out of London future garage, broken beats. I’m always listening mainly to more underground. No matter what scene it is, that’s the stuff that you learn from.