Los Angeles based producer Dillon Francis is 25; after his track “Masta Blasta” found its way to Diplo's computer, and he was signed to Mad Decent. He's now working to help evolve Moombahton, a fusion of house and reggaeton invented by Dave Nada.
He's had massive support from Diplo (whom he calls his “Dad”) and Skrillex, and is currently in the midst of his first U.S. headlining tour, including a three-night stop at the El Rey starting tonight. We caught up with Francis at his downtown loft, where he also records. Sitting on a plaid couch, wearing a pastel button down from Topshop, Francis talked about why Calvin Harris used to think he was crazy, and other topics.
You've put out a ton of remixes this year. Just a few days ago you dropped one with Nicky Romero and Nervo, “Like Home.” Which one's your favorite?
I really like the Nicky Romero one. I always try to make every [new] remix or track I do my favorite one.
Along with the remixes, you've put out several EPs on Mad Decent and one on Skrillex's OWSLA earlier this year. Any plans for a full-length album?
Yes, it's coming out next year. I have a collaboration with Kill Paris [and another] with Diplo [on it]. Those two aren't finished yet.
Is there going to be any departure from your earlier work?
I'm actually going to be going back to my earlier stuff. Like the whole Westside! EP. I want to go to back to the Moombahton stuff, because I've been away from it for so long.
Are there currently any artists that are influencing your music and the direction it's taking?
No. I've just been thinking about my old stuff right now and going back to that, so I've been re-influencing myself.
Nadastrom is a good example of what I've been listening to, they have very rootsy Moombahton stuff. Dave Nada is in that group. Flosstradamus — just like what they did with the trap movement [influenced me].
Where do you hope to take Moombahton?
I want it to be fun and sexy. I want it to have the feel of either disco or '90s house parties stuff.
Like the Kriss Kross song “Jump” or like [L'Trimm] “Cars With The Boom”.
You've been on the road a lot and worked with lots of respected artists. What's the most exciting thing that's happened to you this year?
Working with Calvin Harris and putting out a song [“Here 2 China”] on his label. I never-ever thought I'd work with Calvin Harris. I listened to I Created Disco when it first came out. I was like, 'This guy is so cool!' I was so obsessed with his CD.
Who approached whom?
I approached him. I did a remix of Toddla T's song “Take It Back” and he really liked it, so he started following me on Twitter. I sent him a message [saying] 'Hey man you're fucking amazing. I love your music.' That was the extent of it for a year. The thing that's funny is that he never wanted to talk to me. I recently was talking to him about this. When he first started following me on Twitter, he thought I was crazy because I would [go on] very crazy drunken rants. Then he finally met me at my second [Winter Music Conference] and saw that I was a normal person and then he started talking to me some more. I recently had dinner with him and [asked] 'So what did you think about me at first? Why wouldn't you talk to me?' He was like, 'Well, me and my manager thought you were legitimately insane and we didn't want to have anything to do with you.' [Laughs.]
You've had a considerable amount of success at a young age in a party oriented career. What keeps you centered?
My dad and my manager. I was drinking a lot and eating bad food [the first few years] and my manager [said] 'Dude, you need to work out. You've gained some weight and your skin looks bad.' Then when I came home, my dad [asked] 'Can we have a serious talk?' Usually with my dad, serious talks are always about health because he's an alternative medicine doctor. He [told me], 'You look like shit right now and your lifestyle is really taking a toll [on you].' So he put me on a gluten free diet with five meals a day, two being cleansing shakes. Calvin Harris really helped me out with that as well.
How did Calvin Harris help you?
Because he's gluten free. I remembered how he used to look, and how he looks now and it's a crazy huge change. He hasn't eaten gluten [in years]. He basically did what my dad had been trying to tell me [to do] but it took a person that wasn't my father for me to be like okay, my dad's right. I'd always been fighting [him]. I was always yelling at him growing up: 'Why can't we eat like normal people!' My friends would always have Count Chocula or Captain Crunch. I was obsessed with cereal as a child. The only one I could eat was Honey Nut Cheerios, and that was once a month. So I'd always get really mad and sleep over at my friend Dean's house and devour so much cereal.
You are known for your kooky online personality and an obsession with cat memes.
I love dogs too… but cats rule the Internet. The reason people like cats more than dogs on the Internet is because cats have more of their own personality. Dogs are more of a companion. Cats are just by themselves… and do their own thing.