Party Favor is paving his own lane in the EDM world somewhere between dance and hip-hop. Befitting the name, the man born Dylan Ragland delivers exactly what the people want: feel-good, high-energy party anthems. If that’s not enough, his ability to turn a crowd upside down at any show is the exact reason he took the midday slot at the Sahara Tent both weekends of Coachella this year.
Last summer, Party Favor released his EP Party and Destroy, featuring guest appearances from Dillon Francis, Gucci Mane and Sean Kingston. Now, he brings the project to life performing at festivals and iconic venues across the globe.
L.A. Weekly: For those who don’t know, who is Party Favor?
Party Favor: Party Favor is a legend only whispered throughout the ages… [laughs] No, it’s just little old me — make some music, have a good time and hopefully make people enjoy and not think about anything else in their lives. And just enjoy the moment for a little bit.
Where do you fit in the dance/EDM scene?
I hope I don’t really fit because my goal is to be someone who has a lot of different sounds, a lot of ideas. The Party Favor that is now is going to change over time to be someone else. So I hope that — obviously I’m not like a chameleon — but I hope that I don’t necessarily fit into one niche. I hope not. That’s my goal.
I actually was with you at HARD Summer last year when you brought out Lil Jon. Can you talk about who you choose to bring out in your sets?
I did Lil Jon’s most recent song called “Alive,” with Offset and 2 Chainz.
That shit’s crazy!
Yeah, it’s a wild song. We made that a long time ago. For me, it’s something like if I’m able to work with that person, then obviously it’s a no-brainer to bring them out. I also like to bring out people who I know are going to bring energy and bring something new to the crowd. I think in the dance music world, it’s easy to bring out your peers and stuff. But to have different people that come from different walks of music, it’s cool to introduce them to our world.
Coachella weekend one! Jamie Foxx, Tyga and Rich The Kid. How does weekend one compare to weekend two?
That’s a loaded question. Weekend one was super-special because it was a first-time experience for me and it was so incredible to see the reaction from the crowd. And, you know, obviously getting to work with those artists and they were all so cool. Everybody was awesome. And it went off without a hitch, which made me super happy, because I was stressed.
You have to deejay and worry about the artist guests.
Yeah, it's just kind of making sure that they’re there — making sure they’re on time, seeing how they’re doing, trying to make sure you can hear what they’re saying. You want to go with the flow.
Talk about bringing out Jamie Foxx this time around…
Jamie Foxx was so stoked last weekend, he wanted to come out again this weekend. It made me super happy because he had a great time. He’s an amazing human being. He’s awesome. We wanted to give weekend two a little bit more than we gave weekend one because we had so much going on weekend one. I wanted to make sure we got a little more Jamie this time.
What is your relationship with him?
Well, he’s just a friend right now, but I think we’re talking about maybe doing a song together. So hopefully — knock on wood — we’ll see what happens.
Can you talk about linking with Kendall Jenner this time around?
[Laughs] Yeah, Kendall wanted to come to the set and she was here. It was awesome, I’ve known her brother (Brody) for a little while. It was awesome for her to come up and say hello. She’s obviously very famous, so to hang out with little old me was pretty cool.
You’re famous, too, though.
No no no. I’m a hip-hop head.
Talk about your crossover into hip-hop.
I think for me it’s an easy avenue because my music has always had a little bit of a base in hip-hop and hip-hop drum structure — things like that. That’s how I kind of got into dance music, through blending those kind of hip-hop sounds into what I do now. So for me it’s been a no-brainer and I’m excited to work with a lot of people. I have some stuff I’m doing with A$AP Ferg and some other people I can’t name right now. So keep an eye out.
You’re actually from New York. How does that play into your life and career?
Being born in New York, it’s a big city. Being born in Manhattan, my parents were both artists so I grew up in a very creative household, which was very nice to me. I was lucky to grow up in that because I got to be around people who definitely supported me when I wanted to go out after music, or acting or whatever it was that I was trying to do. So that was great. And I think being from that city, you kind of grow up in that big entertainment world and you want to do it. I spent most of my music formative years in Los Angeles, so that made it easier to kind of transition.
What do you love about L.A.?
I don’t ever want to leave L.A. I’m one of those people who … I love it. For me, what I love is the hustle. And I like how everyone — and it kind of sounds weird — but I like how everyone’s trying to be better than the other person because it makes you be the best you can possibly be. So when you have everybody out there hustling, trying to make it, it’s like you got to set yourself apart. And everyone’s out here. I love the weather, the vibe, the laid-back energy — it’s where I need to be for my career.
Aside from your performance, what has been the biggest highlight from Coachella thus far?
I think getting to spend it with my team and everybody that put on my show, because they do so much work behind the scenes. Obviously the DJ gets a lot of credit. I’m there playing, but this wouldn’t have come together — the guests wouldn’t have come together — all that stuff wouldn’t have come together without my whole team. So shout-out to them.
What do you want fans to get from your story?
You know, that’s a really hard question. I hope happiness. I think at the basic level, to me, music has always brought me so much joy. I think that if I can just make someone’s day happier for that hour I’m playing, that to me is I’ve done my job as a musician.
Favorite song to drop during a set?
Some of my newer songs, like “Caskets” is great, “In My Head” is great. I’m trying to introduce more sing-along songs in my set so that people kind of have those moments where they can make those memories together.
Name three essential items while on tour?
Water. At Coachella, a face mask. You have to block out the dust. And the third one would probably be shoes. You always got to have fly shoes.
What do you have on now?
I just have Vans on right now, but it fits my plumber look.
What is the most played artist on your phone?
I would probably have to say AC/DC.
Who is your dream collab?
I would love to work with Rick Rubin at some point because he’s like my all-time favorite producer. He is so incredible. Or Max Martin would be pretty wild.
What was your initial reaction to Avicii’s death?
I’ll speak for myself only. When I was coming up in the scene and I was doing a lot of opening shows and I was playing a lot of stuff … I used to listen to him when he was Tim Bergling before the Avicii project. I think it hit all of us because not only did he affect me in terms of I loved his music, enjoyed his music, he was such a … someone who pushed our genre of music, dance music, forward. He put it on the map for a lot of people that don’t know it. We hear the term “EDM,” in quotation marks, although I don’t like that term; it’s something that people know now and that’s partly in part to him. So I think that we all owe him a lot and it’s amazing because it’s someone who’s gone way too soon. But the amount of people that you saw were touched by him, I would hope to one day have that effect on people. That’s pretty incredible.
Is there anything else you want to let L.A. Weekly know?
I love L.A.. Shout-out to you guys. Thanks for being my fans and have a wonderful day.