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Major Lazer Take Aim at Media Over EDM Show Drug Deaths

'Persecuting a festival is not going to help,' says Diplo

Jillionaire and Diplo of Major Lazer perform in Philadelphia.
Jeff Fusco/Getty Images
September 12, 2013 11:15 AM ET

Dance and EDM artists have been enduring an onslaught of unwelcome attention in the wake of the deaths at New York's Electric Zoo and a Zedd show in Boston last month. This was apparent at Boston Calling Festival over this past weekend, where 21 drug-related arrests were made. (Although, notably, none of the arrests were for the drug at the center of the firestorm, molly - or powdered MDMA.)

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One of the bigger  festival draws, Diplo and his Major Lazer crew, had some strong opinions on the media firestorm.

"The generation that comes next is always going to rebel against the generation that came before, and they're always going to be at odds with each other," Major Lazer's Jillionaire told Rolling Stone this past weekend at the Boston Calling Festival. "It doesn't matter what anyone who's 50-years-old has to say about these festivals. How many kids go to a football game and drink too much beer?"

"How many kids drive a car when they shouldn't?" Diplo added. "The drug thing happens, and this is the first time music writers can have something to write about. Electronic music is so young, and these audiences are full of 18 - no, 13-year-olds - and people who are 30, and 30 is old. Music writers and critics are old. When I was younger and living in Philadelphia, there was a crazy heroin problem. I had a lot of friends who died from Oxycontin and heroin overdoses. No one wrote about those kids. When 6,000 kids party for three days and two kids die, it's a story because the writers don't write about electronic music, as it's flat and boring all the time."

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According to Jillionaire, the problem could stem simply from drug inexperience. "It's going to sound weird, but we need to teach kids how to do drugs, the same way we teach them about drinking responsibly and having safe sex," he said. "If you're going to go to a festival, drink water for six days before you get there; don't drink no alcohol. If you're going to do a pill and a half, don't do four more and then pass out, overheat, and die of cardiac arrest. Instead of acting like drugs don't exist, acknowledge that drugs will be at a festival and address them."

"We're such a conservative culture that we'd rather not talk about the things kids want to do, even though they're going to do them anyway," Diplo said. "We'd rather ignore it to solve the problem. In Florida, where I'm from, drugs have been a part of club culture since day one. Kids have always been going to raves in the woods. 20 years ago, Orlando was one of the first places to have rave culture, and we learned how to do drugs. It's going to happen; you can't control it. Persecuting a festival is not going to help it because kids are going to do them regardless. Hell, they'll do them in their houses. That's why crystal meth is a problem in America. Drugs are a big problem in America, because we have money to spend and a culture that wants to be turnt up all the time."

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