What we can learn about collaboration from Major Lazer’s DJ Jillionaire

You may not associate Christopher Leacock aka DJ Jillionaire with being a career guru but the Trinidad-born DJ, entrepreneur and now restauranteur is full of sage career advice, especially when it comes to collaboration.

As one of the members of the EDM trio Major Lazer he is constantly working as a team with Diplo and Walshy Fire on putting out hit after hit. He also started his new record label, Feel Up Records, for the purpose of highlighting new artists.

And now he has ventured into yet another collaborative project with his new Williamsburg bar, Clyde’s Caribbean, the only Trinidadian owned cocktail bar in Williamsburg. He talked with Ladders about why he prefers to work collaboratively rather than solo and dealing with failure in your career.

Two heads are better than one

Leacock told Ladders that he approaches the bar, which he works on with renowned bartender Cyllan Hicks as well as restauranteur Fallon Seymour, the same way he approaches music production.

“Not only is collaboration important but it is also fun. It’s way better to do something with friends. Two heads are better than one. It’s just easier. I much prefer to have 50% of something than 100%,” he said. But a good collaboration “allows us to all grow our own individual visions.”

He also looks at these collaborative efforts, whether it be producing music or building a restaurant, as a platform to highlight the work of other Trinidadian artists and provide the rest of the world with context on his people and their culture.

“We want them to see how we get together and how we celebrate,” he said. Clyde’s offers a menu completely ideated by Trinidadians. The beverage program is lead by Hicks and based off of vintage recipes, containing ingredients local to the country, and named after local place names, songs, and other cultural ephemera. 

Though he hasn’t had many failures in his long career, Leacock says he definitely has experienced some and though “it serves you well to not forget it. Get yourself together and keep it moving. Try not to become too jaded.”