Dillon Francis on Moombahton, cat pictures, Skrillex and staying sober
Since then, Francis has developed into a mercurial and sonically distinctive figure on the back of his breakthrough single the bass-heavy "I.D.G.A.F.O.S.," while being regularly commissioned to remix by Billboard big-hitters such as Calvin Harris and Gym Class Heroes and EDM contemporaries Steve Aoki and Flux Pavilion. Heavily supported by Diplo, Skrillex and A-Trak and their respective labels Mad Decent, OWSLA and Fool's Gold, he's anticipated to join this elite circle of producers who are currently defining US electronic dance music.
Gimme Noise spoke with him prior to the start of the "Wet & Reckless" tour, his first U.S. headline jaunt, which stops at the Loft at Barfly tonight. A young artist clearly humbled by recent success and incredibly focused in developing his sound, we discussed Chaka Khan, working with Calvin Harris, the life of a remixer, and feline inspiration.
It feels like a lot has happened in your career in a short amount of time, how would you describe the last couple of years?
I'm really starting to think about it now; I've had some time off recently in Norway and I've just been relaxing and realizing how much stuff has happened and how far my career has gone. It has been really weird and surreal, because I've just been touring non-stop for the year. Every show keeps on getting better and better and more people keeping on coming. It's really bizarre - I can't believe people actually like my music...
Have there been any points that have felt like symbolic highs, such as certain shows or being played on radio?
Holy Ship! [three-night Caribbean electro-rave cruise that happened last January] was so amazing, that whole experience I'm so glad that I got to be one of the first people to ever do that, along with everyone else. I still can't believe how amazing that whole trip went. That whole thing was just phenomenal and it felt like a landmark in my career. I was like "fuck, this is really amazing..." When I got played on Radio 1 [very prominent British national radio station] I didn't realize how big a turning point in my career that was until my last European tour, when I was touring off that hype of being played on Radio 1 and I know MistaJam [English DJ and Radio 1 presenter] still supports my stuff, which is really cool. It's really cool that I can play in Europe and then also do headline shows in America.
When you first started releasing music you were firmly associated with Moombahton, but since then your sound seems to have evolved and diversified a lot. How would you describe what Moombahton is about and what is your relationship to your genre?
The whole thing I really liked about Moombahton and why I think my sound has evolved a lot is that there are no restrictions at all, since no one has set any. Like say with drum n' bass, there's a certain way that your snares have to sound and there's a certain way that your whole song has to sound for people to even play it. And it's the same with dubstep and the same with house; like if you want the Swedish House Mafia guys playing your song, then you have to mix it a certain way. And the thing that's amazing with Moombahton is that no one has set a bar yet. I don't think that I've set a bar yet, I don't think anyone has, and I think that's why my sound has grown so much is because there's really no limit to what you can do because it's just new to them, it's not like something that has ever been done before. So that's what I try to do when producing, try to keep trying out different ways of making music at that tempo.
Do you think Moombahton will remain as an underground sub-genre?
I think there still needs to be that song that brings it into the light, but I think it will just be a sub-genre. It's like with go-go music from DC. There was only a couple of songs -- I know Chaka Khan did a song that got really big but it still didn't bring go-go into being Top 40. I think that's what might happen with Moombahton - I don't know if it's going to get as big as dubstep. I hope it does, because I love it so much but I think that Trap Music right now, the hip hop instrumental stuff that has been going around, is really trumping the growth of it. Everyone jumped on that train as fast as possible, because it's so easy to make, but I'm just going to keep trying to make it [Moombahton] and hopefully will get that Chaka Khan-esque crossover into pop.
You've collaborated with Diplo, A-Trak and Kill the Noise in the past - what was it like working with those guys?
Working with A-Trak was really fun, he's so amazing at making drum sounds and it's so easy making music with him. Since we have the same personality, we both like joking around a lot. It was just a bunch of joking around, then making music and it's really easy to make a song since there's no pressure on either side, so it was a fun track to make. Kill The Noise is really fun to work with since he's just such an amazing producer, his skills are incredible. I don't know how we came up with "Dill the Noise" [track produced by Dillon Francis and Kill The Noise]. It was such a weird song. I remember we just got together -- this was still when I had my studio at my parents' place -- and we were in the back for an hour working on the beginning part of that song and we had to send it back a couple of times and we finally got it to sound like that.
Is there anyone else out there right now who you find really inspirational or would like to collaborate with?
I'd always wanted to collaborate with Calvin Harris and I actually finally got to - we made a song for Dizzee Rascal for his album. That was my ultimate to work with Calvin and we both collaborated within a genre that we don't make music in - the track is in 90 bpm, I've never made a song in 90 and I don't think he has ever made a song at 90 bpm. So it's very different for both of us and it was such a fun collaboration to do, because he's like my idol.