'Great party' in the works for star DJ, producer and hit-maker Diplo

To the general public, Diplo's work is a bit of a musical ninja — stealthily appearing in plain sight in the form of pop hits and featured on commercials and films.

In the realm of electronic and dance music, Diplo has nowhere to hide. The artist born Thomas Wesley Pentz is a bona fide star, building his own brand as a DJ and producing dozens of hits with the world's top pop and hip-hop stars.

The effort to bring Diplo to Alaska was a shared venture between ShowDown Productions and Williwaw. He had previously expressed interest in performing in the state, but the timing worked this time as Diplo's popularity has heightened.

"He'd originally wanted to come up a few years ago, but didn't have the mainstream success," said ShowDown co-owner Hellen Fleming. "Now he's got over a billion YouTube views and the record for greatest number of streams for an independent act (for the song "Lean On"). It became apparent this act can work in any market, including a smaller market like Alaska."

[Related: 8 Diplo songs you should know]

Fleming expects the show to be "a great party for Alaska" with some added production value for the live show and a second stage curated by Alaska performers.

Diplo cut his teeth DJing on the New York and Philadelphia scenes, but he didn't gain notoriety until he started working with British hip-hop artist M.I.A.


Diplo and M.I.A. collaborated on a number of recordings, most notably "Paper Planes," which was a massive hit in 2008. Through M.I.A., Diplo also met British DJ Switch, and the pair formed Major Lazer, a producer conglomerate that involved a number of big-name artists in a variety of genres (they even produced a Snoop Dogg reggae album).

By the time Major Lazer took off, Diplo was firmly entrenched as a producer. He formed a production company, Mad Decent, and in the past half-dozen years has produced a seemingly never-ending string of hits for artists including Shakira, Bruno Mars and Gwen Stefani of No Doubt.

Mad Decent has also advanced the careers of artists outside dance and hip-hop, like indie rockers Peter Bjorn and John.

"Diplo has his hands in everything, from the Justin Bieber tracks to being an owner of (soccer club) Arizona United" Fleming said. "He's everywhere. You really saw that jump with Major Lazer and now he's a household name."

The successes of Timbaland as well as Skrillex, who formed Jack Ü with Diplo, have helped ignite a star turn for producers, once relegated to the background.
That success has allowed producers to establish brands and distribute to fans and listeners directly.

"You have to be able to have one foot in creating the music and also in the creation of the media around the music and the way your show is put together," Diplo told Charlie Rose in a 2015 interview.

The Jack Ü debut album, "Skrillex and Diplo Present Jack Ü," included a range of heavy hitters from 2 Chainz to Missy Elliott and Justin Bieber.

"Electronic music is collaborative," Diplo told Rose. "With me and (Skrillex) I'm always mixing my music with things you wouldn't expect, like a rapper, a rock singer, a country artist, somebody who does pop. We're always working with different people, different voices."

Diplo took that theory into the production of Madonna's "Rebel Heart," in 2015, co-produced by Kanye West and Avicii, which included everything from house music to gospel.

"Alaska doesn't have to be stuck in the '90s anymore," Fleming said. "We have the internet. We're relevant. We're into cool things. As a state, we're becoming way more open to different kinds of music and newer acts. The fact we can pull off Diplo is going to open up so many more doors to bring up relevant acts."


With RL Grime, LOUDPVCK, Astronomar

And local guests DJ Spencer Lee, Tony H, Clint Samples, Satz Uma, Tourmaline, DJ Gre, DJ Livingston

When: 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: 609 F St. (Humpy's Outdoor Venue)

Tickets: General admission 18-20, $45; 21+, $40; Williwaw Access Pass 21+, $70 at

Chris Bieri

Chris Bieri is the sports and entertainment editor at the Anchorage Daily News.