Wrapping up his show at Coachella as one of the headlining DJs in his usual armor of a suit, button-down shirt, and loafers, there’s no surprise Dillon Francis packed the grounds. The 29-year old music producer shares that the best part of playing in festivals is the fact that people show up just to watch him play, no matter how many they are. “I used to play shows up in Dallas, Texas that would literally have four people in a room that could hold 300 people. So, the fact that I can build my name so high in Coachella from the work that I’ve done for the past six years is very heartwarming,” says the LA native.
One of the most talked-about purveyors of moombahton, Dillon admits that he began his music career by experimenting on weird electro-house and really bad dubstep–none of which he thinks really worked well for him, even though he was gaining a fanbase with his constant posts of remixes and original works on Soundcloud. Eventually, he found out about moombahton and realized that it was the breakout genre for him. “I gained a really wide following from it because it was such a new genre at that time,” confesses Dillon. Diplo, who signed Dillon under his label Mad Decent back in 2012, was one of the first people to carry and push moombahton and in festivals that were happening around then. Fast-forward to now, Dillon’s last album Money Sucks, Friends Rule is a huge representation of what he listened to growing up: a mixture of pop, indie rock, hip-hop, and turntablism, plus the music that he’s into as of the moment.
“The whole point of vlogging is very weird to me. People are actually interested in seeing random people do things like it’s just something they do throughout the day. It just speaks to how some people love to be voyeuristic.”
Entering the void now as an independent artist, having parted ways with Columbia Records, he’s equipped with his online presence he’s known for. His antics on Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram boast of hilarious parodies, weird characters (like his pet piñata named Gerald), and his fictional multiple personalities. When asked about the reason why he began doing it, he was honest enough to say that it was to poke fun at some vloggers that he would see online. “The whole point of vlogging is very weird to me. People are actually interested in seeing random people do things, like it’s just something they do throughout the day. It just speaks to how some people love to be voyeuristic,” says Dillon. He produced several series and introduced different characters played by him on his YouTube channel, like Preston, an erratic emo adult, DJ World, which starred fictitious DJ characters and One Deeper Talks, a short talk show hosted by DJ Hanzel, one of Dillon’s online characters. While Dillon is on a high with a million YouTube views on his first release as an independent artist, which is a collab with G-Eazy called “Say Less,” he links us to his view from up top and reels in on his domain of music and online clownery.
WHAT’S YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS LIKE WHEN COMING UP WITH YOUR VIDEOS FOR YOUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL?
Dillon: It’s just me, my manager, and this guy in the production named Dylan. We just come up with ideas, have fun, and shoot the vlogs. We do two a day. We talk about some random things like that piercing the nose one with Preston; some person dared me to pierce my nose in the comment section and we just stacked out three of the dares to complete that vlog. Pretty much everything started to become organic. We call kids out for dares and whatever else we’re doing in the vlogs.
“Being an independent artist gives me way more freedom in everything that I get to do…if it works, it’s our fault, as well as if doesn’t; we’re not relying on anyone else. I think that pressure is way better for artists.”
HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH YOUR YOUTUBE ALTER EGOS AND WHO AMONG THEM IS YOUR FAVORITE?
Dillon: I think DJ Hanzel would be my favorite because I think he’s the most loved among my fanbase. And that character has the most views with me and the rest kind of lived on their own. They just all came out from experiences that I’ve had with random people and stuff that I’ve seen online that I want to make fun of.
SPINNING BACK TO YOUR MUSIC, WHAT DO YOU THINK WOULD BE THE BIGGEST ADVANTAGE AND DISADVANTAGE NOW THAT YOU’RE AN INDEPENDENT ARTIST?
Dillon: I can finally do whatever I want now. If I wanted to, I can release a song tomorrow. I don’t have to get it cleared by anybody from a label; I can do it on my own. Being an independent artist gives me way more freedom in everything that I get to do. There’s no person that we should run it by to make sure that it’s okay with the label. The disadvantage is that I have to pay for everything, but other than that, I don’t really see any disadvantage at all. We get to hire our own team. We get to create our own label and do it our own way. If it works, it’s our fault, as well as if doesn’t. We’re not relying on anyone else. I think that pressure is way better for artists.
YOU’VE DONE COLLABS WITH OTHER MUSICIANS. WHAT EXCITES YOU MOST WHENEVER YOU WORK ON A PROJECT WITH SOMEONE?
Dillon: I like working on projects with different people just because it’s a lot easier when you’re collaborating. You get to push two ideas together rather than coming up with an idea completely by yourself. Whoever I’m working with, I like that you get to balance the ideas off each other and you get to nix what you don’t like. It’s easier not to second-guess yourself because you have another person to help you through the whole way, and vice versa. It’s also easier to get to the finished product fast.
“Whoever I’m working with, I like that you get to balance the ideas off each other and you get to nix what you don’t like. It’s easier not to second-guess yourself because you have another person to help you through the whole way, and vice versa.”
WHO DO YOU WANT TO COLLABORATE WITH AND WHAT KIND OF MUSIC WOULD YOU GUYS MAKE?
Dillon: I really want to collaborate with Daddy Yankee, that’s my main goal right now. I think it would sound like moombahton because it’s right up his alley in terms of his reggaeton. It’s a perfect combination.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT THIS YEAR?
Dillon: I’m working on my album right now, so hopefully I’d get that Daddy Yankee thing going and just finishing a bunch of new music. That’s what I’ve been doing during the start of this year, so I’m really excited to get a lot of it done.