Dillon Francis is one of the most recognized names in the EDM world these days. But Francis got his real leg up in that world when well-known producer Diplo championed his work and the two collaborated on a track. Since then, Francis has become associated with moombahton and electro house, perfect genres for an artist whose sense of humor and playfulness align so closely with the tone and spirit of that music.
As Francis has made a name for himself, his public persona has become as well known as his music. From his Instagram account that documents his adventures to the absurdity of being a n active DJ who travels the world for gigs, it's obvious that Francis has found a way to enjoy the experience while offering commentary on the at-times borderline-surreal nature of his line of work. He makes it look like a sort of unusual reality-TV show rather than the actual daily grind of building a career as a DJ and EDM artist. Since spring 2016, Francis has released episodes of a mockumentary-style television series called DJ World.
Francis will headline the Coors Light Main Stage at 8:30 p.m. this Saturday, June 25, at the Westword Music Showcase. We caught up with him via e-mail to discuss DJ World and his appreciation for the ridiculous in the EDM.
Westword: DJ World seems like kind of a spoof on reality shows, in the vein of Portlandia. What inspired you to make that series?
Dillon Francis: I have always loved making fun of reality shows, ever since I was in high school. My friend and I had a class called New Genres, and we made a spoof reality show of The Hills where all the girls ever did was eat Hot Pockets and go to the club to fuck their daft boyfriends. This came about as a series when I was hanging out with Nick [Colletti] and [DJ] Getter one night, and we had a camera guy with us and we all came up with it on the spot. I [definitely] cannot take all the credit. Getter, Nick and I are a great team, and all have the same sense of humor.
You clearly possess a healthy, irreverent skepticism about the culture of the world in which you operate as a musician. Does creating those various characters help you deal with the excess and ridiculousness of some of the things you see and have some fun with it?
I just love taking things I see to the extreme and making characters that almost/probably do exist somewhere in the real world.
The video of Dillon Francis and NGHTMRE is reminiscent of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Da Ali G Show and the most cartoonish Vice videos (the sunglasses above the visor was an especially nice touch). At what point in your music career did you start making those videos, and what inspired you to make them?
My manager and I started making videos like that a couple months after we started working together. We fed off of each other’s stupid ideas, and I was always down to do them with him, which I think a lot of other people [wouldn't be]. I have always loved making people laugh, and when InstaVideo and Vine came out, it really helped with that part of my life and giving me an outlet to do so.
What are some of the most surreal gigs for which you've been booked?
On my website, I have a section called Awesome Shit, where I will do stupid stuff for money that I will then donate to charity. So one of them was 'I will DJ your bar/bat mitzvah.' So I did that. and we have video of it that we haven’t posted yet.
At some big electronic shows in the last few years, one thing that's impossible to miss is some of the odd fashion choices. What are some of the most interesting/ridiculous/amazing/awesomely terrible outfits you've seen recently?
One girl looked like a fucking yeti. A full-on fucking yeti! WTF, man. But, whatever — I’m not judging you. A lot of people say it's expressing themselves, but I just think that girl really either wants all eyes on her at all costs, even if she looks insane, or in fact really wants to transcend human life and become a yeti. Also, every DJ needs to stop wearing all black — please, and thanks.
The 2016 Westword Music Showcase returns to the Golden Triangle on Saturday, June 25, with Dillon Francis, Cold War Kids, Matt and Kim and more, as well as 100 Denver bands across more than a dozen stages. Get your tickets for the 2016 Westword Music Showcase here. Prices will go up day of show.
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