elektro exclusive interview with Dillon Francis
The crowd pulses with excitement, exploding into a frenzy as Moombahton superstar Dillon Francis is introduced by his alter ego, DJ Hanzel. The irresistibly danceable combination of Reggaeton and Electronic fuels a frenzy of massive proportions; the ranks of EDM fans at Hard Summer’s Harder Stage swell into the tens of thousands. Ninety minutes of madness ensue, fueled by hits like “Masta Blasta” and “Bootleg Fireworks” mixed with old school jams by Biggie and Missy Elliot. Girls in fluffies and bikinis scream and bounce to the funky wobbles spewing from immense speakers; Dillon Francis’ face reflects his larger-than-life portraits grinning throughout the audience.
Ten minutes later he’s back in his trailer excitedly discussing ambitions and future projects in a hushed voice. Bassnectar stalks nervously back and forth outside before hopping on a golf cart to close out the Main Stage. Zedd comes by to congratulate Dillon on his set, and finally, Dillon ushers everyone else out to sit down and chat about his inspiration, his advice to young producers, his early beginnings, and the future of his many side projects.
Sitting down to talk is a misnomer, however, the man is an unstoppable force of energy. Still filled with the adrenaline that comes from playing to 30,000 screaming fans, he’s unable to sit, yet he remains remarkable calm and clear-headed throughout the interview. The man is at once both intimidating and warmly inviting, contradictory qualities that are apparent is his most recent releases. His latest collaboration with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, “Without You,” maintains the playfulness and bouncing spontaneity of his unique brand of Moombahton, but at its core is a calmness that fully surfaces around 1:38 as the baseline melts into smooth and melancholy vocals.
Following the success of the animated “I.D.G.A.F.O.S. 2.0,” he released “I.D.G.A.F.O.S. 3.0” aka “Flight 4555,” slowing the 112 BPM track (he tends to play between 110-113) down to 30 BPM, where it ticks along sweetly like a clock. Aside from a handful of minor changes, the song remains untouched, but its feel is vastly different. It’s evolved from a jumpy, ecstatic track into an achingly slow, bittersweet tune. Moombahton is slow for EDM as it is; most EDM songs hop around 128 or 140, but its not his difference in tempo which is so interesting now, but rather his change in sentiment. Below he talks about the inspiration for those tracks, and much more:
What can you tell me about Night Dogs?
Night Dogs? Oh sheit. Alright, so Night Dogs is me and Oliver, we made this little type of clan, we were on tour for the Wurld Turr. We made Night Dogs and that is the shit. Night Dogs is the best thing ever created, its all Techno; we haven’t released anything yet, but we will.
During your set I crowd sourced your most loyal fans, the ones dead front and center, and they wanted to know when is DJ Hanzel going to put out an EP?
DJ Hanzel is not gonna put anything for a long time, not until I put out my album.
So you had a pretty great week, you lined up collaborations with Mark Knight, M Machine, Nicky Romero.
Yes. Not all this week but yes. Its kind of fucking crazy that just from twitter... I’ve been emailing Mark Knight, who’s my fucking idol... It’s so fucking crazy that just from twitter I can hit up Mark Knight and be like “Yo dude, this is gonna be the best track I ever made just because of who you are, you’re incredible.” For me, Mark Knight is amazing. Yes, Nicky Romero is amazing as well, and its really cool because we’re kind of from the same scene so it really makes sense for us to make a song together. It’s kind of crazy that just from the internet this has panned out.
Kind of like your career.
Yea I mean my whole career has really panned out from twitter. All I really owe my whole life to is twitter (laughs).
Hey, are you making sure to have a good time?
Yea I mean I’m having the greatest time of my life! I can’t believe this is the fourth year in a row of playing Hard, and the people that were there, it’s like “Holy Shit.”
What’s the future for Meowski 666?
Oh my god, Meowski 666. If you know the single then you know its gonna be the most fun songs you’ve ever heard. We’re not gonna put out something that’s actually serious; for Meowski 666 nothing is ever gonna be serious, its always gonna be a joke, that’s it. No matter what. It’s our way of being stress-free.
I’m always putting out something that’s gonna make me laugh.
With Flight 4555, you got a little more serious, it was a bit of a deep, moving track. Is there any chance of a 4.0 for that?
Dillon Francis: Maybe. I definitely think that that track, personally, is one of my favorites because of how it really shows that, ‘look, my songs can be really aggressive, but I’m making really beautiful music, and if you don’t understand that then... get fucked.’
What’s your favorite track by Diplo?
My favorite track by Diplo is the remix he did of Bingo Players, a long time ago, “Get Up.”
I don’t know that, I’ll check it out.
You have to.
Is it pretty awesome?
It’s the best track ever... he’s ever done.
You worked with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs recently, can you talk about the inspiration for “Without You” and the old Polaroid feel of the cover?
The whole thing was done about my ex-girlfriend. She was living with me, and I just, I really wanted to wake up by myself. So the whole song is about my ex-girlfriend taking on her own life and not living with me so that I can wake up by myself and feel good by myself.
I wasn’t trying to break up with her, which sadly did happen, but I was just trying to have my own life, and then TEED wrote about it.
On your website you sell everything from cutting your hair to a song name, to a tweet to someone saying whatever you want, what’s up with selling so much?
Its trying to have fun with the people who are gonna interact with me and all the stuff that’s on my website is for charity.
You would cut all your hair off?
Yeah I would. Most of the stuff that’s all really weird type of things I’m gonna give to charity.
Do you actually personally tweet or does one of your friends tweet from your account?
That’s cool. Serious question: would you rather eat a taco or watch a cat eat a taco?
I would rather eat a taco.
Who were you most excited to see at Hard?
Brodinski and Gesaffelstein.
Yes, I saw Gesaffelstein, it was so much fun, so awesome.
Oh yea, amazing.
He’s just so cool, the suit,
He’s so much cooler than I am.
Why do you play Hard?
Hard is the best festival I’ve ever played in Los Angeles.
You played Coachella this year, right?
I did, yes. It’s fine.
Can you give young producers who look up to you a couple tips; both technical and also how to be successful?
Technical stuff, um, holy shit...
You use Ableton right?
I use Ableton... Keep doing your thing, there’s not real advantage to thinking there’s anything that’s off limits. That’s the main thing I’ve learned, is do whatever you want, because that is what’s gonna differentiate you from every other producer. If you have something that no one else does, than you’re really gonna be separated from everyone else.
Everyone thinks that there’s like a daisy chain for what you have to do to become known, and there’s not at all, you need to do your own thing and that’s it.
No ones gonna hate you for doing something different. Everyone’s actually gonna praise you for doing something different. So that’s my main advice for beginner producers.
What haven’t you accomplished yet that you’re looking to do going forward?
Dillon Francis: Having a couple jillion fans, I don’t have a couple jillion fans yet.
Maybe half a jillion.
Dillon Francis: I don’t (laughs).
Average day when you’re not on tour?
Dillon Francis: Sleeping. Just sleeping. That’s it.
Can you name a couple artists I might not have heard of that I should check out?
Dillon Francis: Loudpvck, DJ Snake, and... that’s it. Two.
Before you got into music what were you doing?
Dillon Francis: I was being a photographer.
Last question, choose any track of yours and take me through the creative process. The inspiration, how you build it in Ableton vertically verses horizontally?
Dillon Francis: Oh man. “Masta Blasta.” Oldest song for myself, best song for myself. I built it as a remix and it didn’t work as a remix so I took it and I slowed it down and it worked as a slowed-down original and there you go.
It’s been a pleasure talking to you.
Dillon Francis: Thank you man, appreciate it. I love you.
I love you too.