Being in the crowd at a Dillon Francis show can get a little confusing. His face pops up everywhere you look–at first you think he might be the fastest runner on the planet, hopping into the audience all around the venue. In reality, he just passes out cardboard cutouts of his own face to get people amped. It’s that kind of comedic, self-awareness that takes a talented DJ and inflates his devoted following, because he also happens to be totally likable. Putting your face on cardboard cutouts is a sure-fire sign you don’t take yourself too seriously, but when it comes to his music, Francis is all business. One of the most charismatic figures in electronic music right now, the LA-based DJ plays an energetic, rigorous set that seems to traverse reggaeton, hip-hop, pop, and house with a seamless, cohesive guiding hand.
He made a name for himself as the king of moombahton and moombahcore on Mad Decent’s roster, but with a vast archive of influences and musical styles Francis attracts a massively diverse fan base that’s only growing by the minute. We caught up with him during the Mad Decent Block Party to rap about partying in NYC, peddling Atlanta clubs to let him play and his forthcoming album.
Read the full interview below and like him on Facebook to stay up on the latest news.
What’s your favorite place to party in the world?
I don’t like partying in LA, it is superficial. I like to party in New York because there aren’t these standard clubs that you go to, and that’s low-key so cool I feel like New York is the only place that’s like that. LA is so club-driven right now and I don’t mind it, but when I go to a club it’s so dependent on the scenes I’m a part of. There’s my scene, which is EDM, and then there’s the real club circuit, which I know very well because it’s where I came from. DJ Spider, Grand Funk, Marshall Barnes, those are my really good friends–but I don’t want to be a part of that. I want to be a part of something different–somewhere that no one knows who you are.
New York is like that, it’s amazing. It’s just way too expensive, which is why I live in LA. I will say New York is the best for one–partying, and two–people are so happy to live there, even if it’s in Chinatown with six roommates. That’s so inspiring to me but I just can’t do that.
What are some of your favorite venues to play at in New York?
I played at Terminal 5, Boys & Girls at Webster Hall, White Rabbit! White Rabbit was amazing.
What do you think it takes to make a party great?
What makes a good party is the people–not me–the people, that’s it! No one makes the party except for the people. I make songs, that’s it. The fans are the people making this happen.
Of course, for MCs and pop stars audience interaction is a huge part of performing. DJs are really taking center stage now, what’s it like interacting with the crowd?
It’s amazing. Flosstradamus really taught me that the whole crowd interaction thing is so important, you can’t not do it. I actually think it’s disrespectful if you don’t talk to anybody. All these people came here to interact with you and if you just go off and do your own thing–no one wants to see that. Everyone wants to have an interaction that makes them feel close. They can grasp onto that and say they were part of this [EDM] movement because it is not going to last that long. I don’t really know where it’s going to go, but I know you have to be a person that likes people to be good at it while it’s here.
Very true, everybody wants a piece of the artist. What’s your musical background?
I lived in Atlanta for two months and my boy Cory taught me everything I had to know to do music. I was 21 or 22 I think and it was pretty amazing because I had no idea what was going on at all. I had $500 staying in Buckhead, knowing nothing about anything at all. I had gotten an offer to go to an art school in San Fran and I said, ‘No I don’t want that. I don’t want to just do whatever. I want to focus on what I’m doing.’ And that’s when I moved to ATL with Cory and it worked out really well.
How did you start playing shows?
I asked every single person to just let me play a show. ‘I swear to God I’ll play any music you want to hear and I will not disappoint you.’ Somehow they were okay with it and they let me play. I mean, that’s how easy it was for me, luckily. But really my friend was the one that was doing all the parties in ATL at the time. He let me play a show with Stretch Armstrong, which led me into that whole room. It’s so crazy to me to think that was really the whole part that led me to this. I’m sitting in this chair right now because of my friends Caleb and Cory being like, “Yeah you can play,” and I did and Stretch listened and he sent it to Diplo and Diplo said, “Awesome.” So weird!
Sounds like you really put yourself out there.
It was totally me pursuing them too much. I was definitely that guy that was like, “Please come listen to my stuff?”
You have a new album coming out, what can your fans expect to hear?
My album is very “poppy,” not a lot of hip-hop, a lot of pop. I have a song with the Presets from Australia, which I’m really happy about because I’ve been a fan of the Presets for so long. It feels really good to cross that over with myself.
For a taste of the album, stream songs via his Soundcloud above and check out his brand new video for “Without You,” that premiered today on MTV’s Buzzworthy Blog.