10 Minutes with: Dillon Francis

DIllon Francis, Chicago, Photocredit: Flickr

DIllon Francis, Chicago, Photocredit: Flickr

Beatrice Cook
Writer

Producer, DJ, and all-round funny guy Dillon Francis is set for big things this year. Hailing from Los Angeles, Francis has a serious stake in the world of EDM right now; a protégé of Diplo, a key player in the insurgence of moombahton music, and with backing from huge labels such as Mad Decent and Fool’s Gold, it seems like he can do no wrong.

Francis first garnered widespread recognition back in 2011 with his track ‘Masta Blasta’, which, alongside a collaboration with EDM heavyweight Diplo, led him to move in to the world of moombahton and moombahcore. The genres, a fusion of house, dubstep and reggaeton, provided a platform for Francis to step away from the repetitive EDM domain. In 2012, Francis became the first moombahton artist to take the number 1 spot on the Beatport chart with his EP ‘Something, Something, Awesome’, signalling his rapidly growing popularity over in the States.

Having toured with the likes of English dubstep giants NERO and Flux Pavilion, Francis has garnered further fame from his remixes, including that of Canadian electro-funk titans Chromeo. His rework of their track ‘Jealous (I Ain’t With It)’ has racked up close to 3 million plays on Soundcloud alone since its release last year, only a tiny example of Francis’ success in the past 12 months.

Additional support has been found in the form of Radio 1 legend Annie Nightingale. Francis dropped a guest mix for her last year under his famed German, deep-house loving alter-ego DJ Hanzel. A man of many talents, Francis is also known for his strong internet presence, with comical clips of life on tour, his other numerous DJ personas and general inane hilarity posted regularly on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.

2014 saw the release and subsequent success of Dillon Francis’ debut album ‘Money Sucks, Friends Rule’. The album is a proverbial powerhouse of standout tracks, with ‘We Make it Bounce’ and ‘All That’ providing the goods.  ‘Money Sucks…’ sees Francis teaming up moombahton madness alongside incredible collaborations with Martin Garrix, Major Lazer and label-mate DJ Snake, and off the back of its release came an absolutely insane transatlantic tour, with Francis bringing the noise to The Arches in Glasgow back in January.

The Glasgow Guardian got to chat to the man himself prior to his Arches show; playing high society in the lobby of the Radisson Blu Hotel, we talked Buckfast, unicorns, and defining ‘listenable’ music. Time to go one deeper with Dillon Francis:

Guardian: How was the UK tour?

Oh, great! This is my first ticketed tour through Europe, so we’re really happy with it. Selling out Koko in London was probably the coolest thing ‘cos that’s the first place I played with Diplo.

How did you start creating and producing music?

I was listening to a lot of punk and metal at the time, and that stuff never really went anywhere else, ‘cos no one was really making good punk music. Then my friend played me Bloody Beetroot’s ‘Ill to Destroy’, the remix they did for Metallica, and that’s what really started getting me into dance music. Then I heard Rusko’s remix of [Kid Sister’s track] ‘Pro Nails’, and that’s what made me want to produce music. I made shitty music for like, a year and a half, until I finally found out about moombahton, probably about a year in, and I started making that a little bit, and then sent it to Diplo.

What was the decision into moving into the moombahton genre?

I’d been making everything else and it wasn’t working. Style-wise, it was me copying other people. I heard all of Munchi’s stuff, and that was crazy new, because no-one was doing it. If you think of drum and bass, it’s very hard to do it, not only because it’s been done for so long, but because there’s a certain production style, like, you have to have your snare at some hertz level, and some people won’t play it unless everything in that track is at a certain sound quality.  For the moombahton stuff, there were no rules yet; it opened up this whole thing for me to try and do whatever I wanted to do.

How did you first get involved with Diplo?

I heard that Diplo liked moombahton, so I was like [to my old manager], ‘Hey, send him this song {‘Masta Blasta], I bet he might like it’, and he sent it to him immediately, and [Diplo] was like ‘this song is awesome’, so then I hit him up on Twitter and was like, let’s hang out.

And with Martin Garrix?

I was watching MTV Clubland, [and] I saw a track with him, Sander van Doorn and Julian Jordan, and it said how old they were, and I was like ‘…Fucking prick.’ He was 17 at the time. The song was really good, [so] I looked at his Twitter, and he was following me. I followed him, and he sent me a bunch more of his music; it was really, really good. I was blown away that it was some 17 year old kid, in Amsterdam.

So then, I was travelling to Amsterdam, and was like ‘Hey man, lets hang out’, and we ended up hanging out for three days and started ‘Set Me Free’. He played me the chord progression for ‘Animals’ and when I heard that, I was like ‘Oh man…I’ll see you later!’ That’s a really good chord progression!

How does ‘Money Sucks, Friends Rule’ compare with some of your older music?

If you listen to my really old stuff, and then listen to that album, you can see that I’ve really grown as an artist, that understands chord progressions and how song structures work, and being able to present a ‘listenable’ song, instead of a just club track. I mean, you’re not going to listen to a club song that many times throughout a day; for me, I’d rather listen to [Ariana Grande’s] ‘Love Me Harder’ than a club song that many times. Porter Robinson’s ‘Lionhearted’ is amazing, and you can listen to that over and over again; that’s what I mean by ‘listenable’.

There are some negative connotations surrounding the EDM genre – is that something you’d you agree with that?

I agree with that. I tried to space [my album] out as much as possible with club songs and quote/unquote listenable songs, like, radio and pop songs. People have done the whole club song-club song- club song album.

If you present it that way in an album, a lot of the songs get lost because it’s just too crazy, and it’s monotonous, and that’s what I didn’t want to happen on mine. I didn’t want it to be ‘Oh right, it’s just another annoying club song after annoying club song.’

What’s your favourite track from ‘Money Sucks, Friends Rule’?

My favourite is ‘Love in the Middle of a Firefight’ [featuring Brendon Urie]. That was a dream come true to be able to work with him. I loved his music when I was going to high school. When I got into Vine, I saw that he was doing Vine as well, and I thought that he was a funny dude on there, so then on Twitter I was like, ‘Hey man, would you be interested in making a song?’ He already knew my music and said yes. I knew that I didn’t want to make a four-on-the-floor song, I really wanted to do something that was, like, M83-ish.

You’ve created several different alter-egos, and post frequently on Snapchat and Instagram – what was behind using these social media platforms as an outlet for you?

It’s pretty much just stress relief for me. I just like laughing at myself, making jokes, making other people laugh, so if it does, I’m happy.

Your shows here in the UK have been 14 years + – any thoughts on playing to a younger crowd?

(Laughs) A fourteen year old crowd! Is this like a new thing that’s happening? It’s so weird. I did not say ‘Hey guys, I really want to play 14+.’ Pretty sure that was my booking agent…I didn’t know till we were playing in Brighton. I mean, I don’t notice that they’re fourteen, I try not to look and be like ‘Oh my god.’ That kinda sounded weird…They drink milk, it helps them grow faster.

How was playing New York and Las Vegas?

New York was great, and Vegas is getting really good now. Vegas is a very different machine than the whole rest of the world. It’s hard to build up your name there ‘cos most of the people that are coming in to town are just travelling out of nowhere, they may not even know any of my music. It’ll probably be 50 of my fans there. I think that [the venue] Surrender holds 8,000, so there’s 50 out of 8,000 people that are solid fans, so whatever that is…um, minus 50, that aren’t my fans. Now I think it’s really starting to turn into [me] having my fan base there, or that my fan base is growing more so.

Crazy tour stories?

Oh yeah, being in a car in India. India’s cool, but they drive like…they don’t even need a separator in the road because they drive like there is no separator in the road. They’re just passing every other car, and you’re playing chicken the whole time you’re driving, and driving very fast, and I don’t think we had seat belts on…because I don’t think the cab had seatbelts, or they didn’t work, you know, why would they work, why, why would you need seatbelts?

Final thoughts?

Everyone just needs to drink Buckfast. I hate haggis, I’ve tried it, I have definitely tried it. But I haven’t had Buckfast, I’ve just found out about it this year.

How do you guys feel about unicorns being your national animal? It’s weird, right?

‘Money Sucks, Friends Rule’ is out now.

Recommended Listening:

‘Make It Bounce’ feat. Major Lazer and Stylo G – (‘Money Sucks, Friends Rule’, 2014)

‘Clouds’ Dillon Francis x KSHMR feat. Becky G – (via SoundCloud, 2015)

‘IDGAFOS’ – (‘IDGAFOS’, 2011)