If you're not familiar with Major Lazer (and Fools Gold's) director of media and marketing, prepare to have your mind blown. Splurt Zillionz, as he calls himself, is becoming an internet phenomenon for many reasons. But it's not just the memes, the funny pictures, and all of the humor associated with his social media platform. It's a movement of spoofing and internet fandom on a whole new level. Even his cat is making a name for himself.
Special thanks for Splurt for taking his time to do this interview about all things Splurt and Major Lazer. Please familiarize yourself further with Splurt's Instagram and Twitter accounts before proceeding.
What is your background, how does one become media manager for Major Lazer? Where are you based?
I knew the Major Lazer guys for a few years when they were just starting out (and) I was always trying to mix electronic music and Reggae (for) as long as I can remember…since at least the early nineties. My life is a story, there's no short answer. I was born in New Jersey and that's where I went to high school. Shortly thereafter I moved to Olympia, Washington and then to Seattle…then I moved to Hawaii, back to Seattle… then eventually I ended up in Atlanta, Georgia where I finished my college degree. After that I moved back to New York City and that's when I really got involved in music on a whole other level. The drum and Bass Music scene was taking off in New York back then and I was a big part of it, sometimes playing five nights a week. I began to tour overseas and that's when I landed a record deal with Virgin EMI Records in Finland…had a hit record in the summer of 2001. Nobody was doing anything commercial with drum and bass so I came under a lot of fire. I've been back and forth from Sweden and New York until finally about five years ago I moved back to New York City permanently and now I live in Brooklyn.
You have created iPad stands. You are “king of gadgets.” What creations are you most proud of?
I have a lot of gadgets that actually make my life better. My iPad rigs are excellent and very functional. The iPad stand is one of my favorites because I can watch movies in my bed and when my head turns, so does the iPad. My movies stay flat. But I did something even better when I got my projector on the stand so I can watch projector movies on my ceiling. That is a really great way to watch movies. I have a lot of different gadgets that I'll combine to create new things that are more functional. But by far my coolest invention ever is my portable DJ rig. That thing is amazing. Basically, I combined a photo tripod, photo table, a sun umbrella, an iPad stand, and a small Numark USB mixer with an iPad and a portable battery-powered loudspeaker. It all fits on a luggage cart. I can take it anywhere and set it up in minutes and have the ultimate battery-powered DJ rig. Not only does it look really cool and fold up really small into a luggage cart or my backpack, it actually is really functional. It supports full Cue in my Headphones and the way I can mix on that is very similar to the way I can mix on any other system…so I would set up on the corner in the subway and do impromptu little james around the city. That was really fun and it created a lot of attention.
How did you come up with “Splurt Zillionz?” What were you doing before this and what are your passions outside of media and creating?
I came up with my name because I felt I was being pushed around by Record Labels and friends that wanted me to do this and do that and market myself a certain way. I had enough of it. I thought, now is time for me to create something for me. I'm doing this from my passion in my artistic vision whether people see it or they don't and I don't care. That's how I came up with the name Splurt Zillionz. Splurt is a Jamaican word similar to split that means “to get out.” The Zillionz came from my last name that starts with a Z. It just fit and made sense to me. It just came to me, it works. I'm stuck with it. It's original so whatever. Outside of work and creative endeavors, some of my passions are snowboarding, diving, and anything that gets me away from technology and in nature.
How big IS major lazer? Walshy Fire, Jillionaire, Lafayette Bless, and Mela Murder.. are there others? What makes up the whole team? How does Major Lazer function? Tell us about the unit. What are your responsibilities. Who is making major lazer dollars for example.
Major Lazer is always changing and it has changed from the start. Back in the early days it was Diplo and Switch. There was Skerrit Bwoy and 77Klash. Then for a long time it was Diplo, Jillionaire, and Walshy Fire (current roster). It's Diplo's group, but (it) is also managed by a great company called teamwork (TMWRK) and they tie it all together. I created Major Lazer dollars. It was my concept and design that really got me involved and noticed by the management team. I'm not the illustrator, that's a guy named Ferry Guow that lives in London. He created the Major Lazer character and all the illustrations. I do mostly all of the internet graphics that you see out there and I'm a big part of the social media decision making. To the outside it may seem like a big company but it's actually a very small team and I think that's why it's also very successful because we're able to keep it very small. I'll give the credit to their management company (Teamwork), they are excellent at what they do.
From left: Diplo, Splurt, and Walshy Fire of Major Lazer
You get some incredible responses from people all over the world. What do you say is your claim to fame as Splurt right now?
I think my claim to fame is something fairly new being an internet personality/brand across different platforms… people know me for a million different reasons whether it's my cat, my music, my Youtube channel Splurt.tv, my association with Major Lazer, my designs, my gadgets, my portable DJ rigs, my hashtags, my memes… there's just so much that I try to hit people with. They know me for different things and basically it just reaches a level where people are overwhelmed and think, “who the fuck is Splurt?” But lately I realize the value of humor and I really think it's important to make people laugh. I never considered myself a comedian and I never knew I had this talent to make people LOL.
Currently the new fad is the Splurt Face, you say “this took years to create”. Tell me how the Splurt face started. Are you surprised by the explosion of Splurt faces? Are the celebrity splurt faces coincidence? How big is this getting. What is the future?
(Lots of laughter) Yeah, that surprised me… I wasn't going to post that first selfie and my friend me, “that's funny, you've got to post that”…so I posted it and people went nuts over the picture and (it became) actually more popular than I ever thought. I've pushed it a little bit and it's just starting to catch on. It was a really weird thing, I never expected it to catch on. I think I lost a lot of followers from it as well so some fans created some Splurtfacez accounts (accounts dedicated to the Splurt face selfies). It was a really interesting phenomenon that got me noticed by a lot of people. Because of the way I'm able to engage with fans and utilize Snapchat with Instagram I think it was unique and I think that's what makes me really good at (using) the internet to be able to move digital media swiftly across platforms and engage fans.
What is a Splurtian? Who are your fans?
I just wanted to come up with a really unique name for my fans. It started out with women that were sending me sexy A.M. pictures on Snapchat. I wanted to post a lot of those and I needed to call them something so Splurtians sounded like Martians or Russians. I think the Splurtians are all crazy like me and they relate to me. If they are anybody (in particular) they are the internet people or nerds, the outcasts of life, the technological people, the unusual people, and much of what the internet culture represents. I definitely represent internet culture for whatever that is, it's my culture. I'm not saying I'm a nerd and I sit around online all day, I'm actually very different from what someone would think of a nerd. I'm intellectual, I might be a geek and into a lot of geeky stuff but I'm in good shape, I exercise, I dance, I'm very social, and get along with people. Whatever.
How has Snapchat changed your social media life? Where do you think social media is headed? What do you like/dislike?
Snapchat is really weird. I can't figure out how to unfollow people. There isn't a lot of ways to do stuff on Snapchat, it's limited. What I don't like about the internet is all the fronting! I get annoyed with people who use instagram like a blog because I started on Instagram and it was a place for photographers and we would share 10-20 pictures a day perhaps. I was there from the very beginning. If you see, I have posted over 23,000 photos on Instagram. It started to get really popular when they opened up the front facing Camera, that's no coincidence because of all the selfies and all the narcissism began… and there's a lot not to like about that. That's why I created the Splurt facez to make fun of all these selfies.
I think I'm on the frontline of where these things are headed, but it's always about how you use the tools creatively and use things in unorthodox ways which is the basis for so much in our culture. From using an electric guitar to make it overdrive, it wasn't supposed to be used that way and that created rock ‘n roll and heavy metal. Using a sampler the way you were not supposed to use a Sampler created jungle drum and bass music. So for the most part, using the internet in unorthodox ways is the way to create new things. But if we're looking for a real long term vision for where all this technology is going, I believe that it's all about sharing your dream and your visions in the most elaborate way with somebody else in an instant. If you could think of holding your wildest dreams and imagination and all its dimensions in a tiny ball and then throwing it at someone with all the sights and sounds and visions…whatever's going on in that person's head in an instant, that's where (all) this is leading.
It's also making us much more intimate, especially if you look at music business and celebrities. Before it was always about a big brand that you felt you had no connection to. The celebrity was just this name out there. Now celebrities have hundreds of thousands of followers and are sharing little bits about their life. They are becoming closer and closer to people so it's bringing us closer together at the same time we have this distance created by our phone screen. It's a lot of illusion but it is definitely bringing people together and information is traveling much faster. I also think memes are playing a huge part in the evolution of the internet and where it's going. Big ideas can be spread in an instant so I think we'll have sensations in viral videos and big things that will just happen overnight. It's almost like Andy Warhol prophecized: 15 minutes of fame for everyone.
How do you find so much great material (without giving away secrets)? Do you think you have the most humorous content on the web or do you think some others are on your level?
I wouldn't say it's anything too crazy, like I don't have any secret sources. I use Google and the regular search engines, but I think what makes me different is that if I see something like on Facebook or on my phone I know how to quickly turn it into digital media and into a format I could use on Instagram. That's what makes me technical, because I can see anything, anywhere, on any type of screen or format, and most likely I can convert it very quickly and easily to a format that will work on Instagram. So if I see something I want to share I can do that very fast and easy.
For the loyal fans, tell us more about Catstradamus. He seems an influential part of Splurt.
Well about a year ago my brother wanted to get a cat for his girlfriend, and he said if he's going to get a cat he doesn't want to get a little cat he wants to get a lot of cat. So he found this type of cat called the maine coon. It's a cool cat because it has a history and it's nothing like a typical house cat, it's actually one of America's oldest breeds. They come from Maine and nobody really knows the origin. Some people suggest because of their similarity to the Norwegian Forest cat, they descended from those cats who came over on the Viking ships. He's got really big paws designed for the snow and little tufts on his ears that make him look like a lynx or a bobcat. He does really cool stuff…like he knows how to play fetch, he will play fetch just like a dog. He also waits by the door for me when I come home, and does lots of interesting things that normal cats don't do. Basically my brother was very busy and he could no longer take care of him, so he gave him to me. Now I am trying to make him an Internet cat celebrity, and so far it's working. It's also done wonders for my love life.
OMW2SYG, booty had me like, They said I could become anything…. What has been the most fun phrase trend? What are your personal favorite memes ever / What is your favorite find lately? I am noticing a strong presence of 60's spiderman.
I discovered memes kind of late, I was just curious about all these funny pictures I saw on the Internet that had a particular style. I wasn't fond of the style I thought it looked very cheap and from a graphic designer's point of view bad design. As I started to learn more about them I became fascinated with the spread of ideas and cultures through this format. I think it's probably the most spectacular cultural trend in the in the last century. I don't have any particular favorites, the reason I like meme's is because they they spread by getting slightly altered from person-to-person, so they are mutable. As you know the Internet is full of whacky and crazy stuff, and that's what I like I've always had that type of humor and taste, and it just happened to have come into vogue recently…which makes things easy for me… people don't see me as a whacky or crazy guy anymore. If they do, it's a good thing.
Are there boundaries for you? The Brazzers logos on people with pets.. was that an original idea? What are you original posts? How long have you been using animations and messing with things? How much of your instagram is your stuff?
Like I said I have a pretty twisted and sick sense of humor. But when I look around on the Internet and I see other stuff people are doing, I feel quite normal myself. I think that just being able to be yourself and have the balls to take risks chances and not be afraid to take those risks, basically just not giving a fuck is really important… not caring what other people think about you. It has been the single most life-changing thing that I have done, and created a lot of benefit in my life just not caring what people think about me. If I could attribute anything to my recent Internet fame it would be just that.
How do most fans submit things to you? I am specifically curious about the Indian community that is teaching children about you and the dude in jungle attire.
Over the past six months I have got more fan submissions that I have ever gotten before. I don't like all of them and then some of them I use but I forget where I get them from… and then people can get angry that I didn't give them credit. But they forget that they stole them from somewhere as well. We're all stealing from each other here and that's the whole meme game. As far as all that stuff in foreign countries and Sri Lanka, all I can say is that the Internet is the World Wide Web and nothing is stopping some guy with a phone in the jungle from discovering Splurt and becoming one of my fans. And that's exactly what happened.
I first discovered you when my friend replied to you about getting 100 bugattis for your followers and having a sloth sanctuary… Do sloth sanctuaries exist? What does your dream home look like?
Yes. There is a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica, it is an actual place where they nurse wounded and injured sloths. I was planning on going there this winter, but it just never happened. My dream home would probably look like something from a James Bond movie or Dr. Evil's lair. Like a hollowed out volcano with a fly in driveway and a secret laboratory with lots of glass elevators and escalators. But currently I have my eyes on a mobile marketing studio, it's basically a very small compact van with all the gadgets… a bed small kitchen and the bathroom so that I can take Splurt Technology on the road, I'm currently looking for a sponsor to skin the side of the van and I'm saving up to get that van soon.
What kind of B.S. do you have to deal with because of this online reverance. How do you deal with trolls. Who deals with trolls the best? What is the best response to negative comments online?
Actually dealing with the bullshit online is becoming a lot easier as I become more popular. It used to bother me and I would lose followers. Now I get at least 300 followers a day and sometimes I lose 300. Nobody can expect me to reply to them personally anymore as I have so many followers, so it's gotten a lot easier. I don't even see the comments, I have little time to go looking through my comments and actually read everything. I do try to pay attention and reply when possible. Best response to the negative comments online is just to ignore them, they obviously don't mean anything if it not coming from somebody who's paying you or cares about you… or is close to you and knows you personally. They are meaningless, I only cared about them when I wasn't popular because I wanted to be popular. Now that I have all of followers, it doesn't bother me in the least bit.
Snowboarding level? How good are you?
I've only been snowboarding for about three years, I tried it a few times when I was younger. I'm not that good but I'm not that bad either. I can definitely get around the mountain and I have a really good time just surfing the mountain. It's the best way for me to get away from technology and just be on my own. I really love being out in nature and just finding myself on the top of a really cool mountain and being able to get down on the Snowboard and I just think it's a really great experience. Sometimes I listen to music and it's pretty much the best feeling I know.
It is hard to tell, but it seems that you and Diplo are very close. Is this true? What impresses you most about him? How thirsty are the hoes? What kind of things are happening on tour?
I met Wes sometime around 2008 or 2009, he knew a bunch of my friends already. You know how it is in the music community, we all know each other. We never really got to talk or anything so it was always a little bit awkward, but I had gotten to know the other members of Major Lazer and they have also seen me around at so many events that I was already kind of part of the family. So it was a natural thing for me to join forces with them especially when I got go into graphic design and marketing. The thing that impresses me most about Wes is that he stays humble and that's a really difficult thing to do for somebody in his position. I've seen him act a little cocky at times but nothing compared to other people in his position. I can tell you from my experience that the hoes are always the most thirsty before the show, and before the time that they can get onstage to twerk. That's always a very dangerous time to be near the stage. I've gotten scratched at one show by a girl fighting to get on stage.
How much time do you spend on Tour? Do you like being on Tour? Do you get burned out?
I spent hardly any time on tour, I spend most of my time at home working on material. I would like to go on some tour dates and that may start to happen this year but for the most part it's me at home with my cat and the Internet.
When other members of Major Lazer post funny things, are you helping them? How much do people steal your stuff? Is it frustrating? Or does it tend to be Mad Decent family?
I really dont have any real problem with people stealing my stuff, but sometimes it bugs me when they don't even like the meme they steal or they don't give me credit and they just take it. But for the most part I don't have time to notice anymore.
What are your future goals as Splurt? Splurta? Where is this all headed? Notable Splurtians?
I always started my brand and everything I'm doing with a vision, that's all I have. Sometimes there are some small plans along the way and some strategies, but it all starts with a vision and the vision can be very loose but I see it like I see the horizon and I move towards it. That's all I know. I don't know exactly where I'm going with all of this all of the time. I do have some top-secret plans, but you have to be adaptable in this digital era because things change so quickly, so I like to look at my technical skills as the real value I have right now because it gives me that ability to create things in response to whatever's going on.
How has your instagram evolved? I am most curious about the use of sloths. Is or was your sloth obsession unhealthy? Have you consciously cut back on sloths over time?
Like I said I was on Instagram before most anybody. I was on it the first week it came out, so for me it started as something very different from what it is now. It was just about taking photos on the rear facing camera of cool stuff like clouds and regular things and applying filters to them, and we were doing that all day to show off our photography skills etc. there was a time where I was obsessed with sloths, I never knew much about them but just became very interested, if you follow my Instagram you know that I go through phases, and sometimes I stick to a phase for a while before I can let it go. The biggest thing with Instagram is that I never knew I had an ability to make people laugh out loud, it's not like traditional comedy but you're making them laugh through this digital media. Its a very different dynamic but I never knew I was so good at it, many people write me, and tell me that they never laughed so hard in their life, my Instagram makes them laugh every single day. That gives me a lot of pride… that makes me really happy that I can make so many people laugh. Laughter is the best medicine.
Message for your fans? Anything else you'd like people to know about Splurt and/or Major Lazer?
I don't really have any special messages to my fans that they don't get to see every day anyway, just to follow me and keep following me and I promise to keep them entertained and do the best Job I can at making them laugh and showing them the coolest stuff that I can possibly show them. But it would be fun if they start showing up at some shows with some Splurt banners and Splurtface cardboard cutouts so that the promoters can recognize me and I can start to get some DJ gigs.
What are some things we should know about you that we can't learn from social media?
In many ways Splurt is my alter ego, it's sometimes what I want to be, what I'm afraid to be, an extension of my creative self. Just like everything else on the Internet, it's very introverted and extroverted at the same time. There is definitely another side to me but as I am developing my social media platform, I have found ways to integrate the real me into it as well… so it's not so much a split personality anymore. Perhaps we can call it “Spurt personality.”