DJ Hanzel and Tchami? Dillon Francis hints at new collaborations & more [Interview]
Moombahton progenitor Dillon Francis has put a near-incomprehensible amount of work into his 2018 thus far — and there is much more on the horizon. His highly anticipated sophomore effort, WUT WUT, has spawned six Latin-inspired productions thus far and is officially slated to hit the internet at the top of the fall season on September 28. This follows an already busy eight months of headlining global festivals, working alongside Panic At The Disco for a track off their latest album, and getting back into the remix ring with a spin of Cardi B’s hit single, “I Like It.”
One talent Francis has that shines as brightly as his musicianship is his ability to make others laugh. The artist is a natural comic, amassing a mass following on social media with meme-worthy content that includes DJ Hanzel’s creation, Gary the Piñata, and silly antics. Last summer, he starred alongside James Van Der Beek in the Diplo-based Viceland series What Would Diplo Do?
These skills culminated in one of the more momentous announcement of Dillon’s career: he’d be taking his comedy to the next level by executive producing his very own series Like & Subscribe. Fans had been hoping this for years on end — especially after seeing his innate knack for acting on Vice. The show was announced in typical Francis fashion, by way of an “Influencer Wall” that baffled some and angered many.
Before one of the more entertaining and idolized personas in all of electronic dance music was honored with shutting down the Perry’s Stage at Lollapalooza, we got the chance to sit down with Dillon Francis as he dished on how his new album come to fruition, an update on the upcoming Like & Subscribe project and finally a potential return of the fan-favorite alter ego DJ Hanzel.
Your new album ‘Wut Wut’ is mostly Latin-influenced. Was that something you always aspired to do and was the process of creating that any different than your music in the past?
My manager and I actually came up with the idea for the album like three years ago and it was long before “Despacito” and “Mi Gente” had ever become big. The reason we did it and the reason the album is called Wut Wut is because it was me just going back to “Que Que“, which was a song I made together with Diplo and Maluca. I wanted to just have those vibes of what I used to make back during the West Side EP days and try to revitalize it and add in the new flair that I have now. Where I’m at in my career, I was able to go to some artists that I really looked up to and work with them so it’s been really fun. It’s probably been one of the most fun albums I’ve worked on. A lot of people have been like “it took so long, it was a labor of love” but the only thing that has taken long was for it to come out. The whole thing for me was just having the best time of my life and the whole album was about fun, and that’s it. It’s not this crazy, introspective project so you can enjoy it and get wild to it.
You worked on a track on Panic At The Disco’s new album. What was it like working with them?
Brendon Urie is one of my favorite people alive; hanging out with him was so much fun and he’s such a funny dude. Our music sensibilities are so much alike and I don’t know if that’s because I grew up listening to Panic and being an emo kid but then also listening to indie dance music. I think that’s where him and I meld together is the fact that I was so into indie dance music when I was coming up. There’s an old song on my album Money Sucks, Friends Rule “We Are Impossible” and that’s kind of trying to be that vibe but I think we really nailed it with “Hey Look Ma, I Made It“.
Everyone saw that hilarious influencer mural you put up in Los Angeles to promote your new series “Like & Subscribe” and you’ve always had a knack for comedy so was having your own series always a goal of yours?
Yeah so I executive produced that show and I know that it didn’t come out yet because Go90 got destroyed. Two days into the promotion for what we were doing, they hit us back and we’re like “hey the company is closing down, do you still want to air it for 30 days?” so they just gave it to us and right now we are shopping it. If that doesn’t happen though then I think I’m really going to try to blow it out and put it on my YouTube.
Going off of that, we wanted to take it back for a second to those incredible Snapchat story sketches that you used to do with your friends Phantoms. Do you guys have any plans to bring those back or potentially work on something else in the future?
I don’t really use Snapchat that much and on Instagram you can’t do those long format stories. I tried to use Instagram TV once and it did well but I’ve kind of grown apart from doing that especially after doing the Like & Subscribe show, I want to focus on doing those types of productions. Every now and then I like to do it for something like Gerald’s birthday and other big moments like that.
It’s definitely been a minute since we went ‘One Deeper’ with DJ Hanzel so are there any plans for another show in the coming months?
Yeah so the last show we did was at Exchange LA and that’s a really good question because I was literally just talking about it like 30 minutes ago. I’m hoping to try and do something again if not this year then next year. I know that there has been talks of a DJ Hanzel and Tchami song so we’ll see what happens with that.
You and DJ Snake obviously have one of the most enviable friendships that we’ve seen in all of dance music. That well-thought-out revenge prank that you pulled on him after he blasted your number across the Ultra Mainstage back in 2015 was extremely entertaining. Do you guys have anything in the works in terms of music that you can share?
We’re trying to work on something but I don’t think we’ve found the right song yet. We’re still sending back and forth songs and trying to figure out what we want it to be but it’s been a little tough because we don’t know if we want it to be a moombahton song or something closer to ‘Get Low‘. He’s finishing up his new album too so I was trying to get something done with him but we’ll see.
You have the honor of closing down the Perry’s Stage here at Lollapalooza this weekend so is there anything you can tell us about that set before it all goes down later?
I was sick for the past five days and I was just sitting in my house making edits of all my old music so a lot of them are blends. I brought back “IDGAFOS” and “Bruk Bruk“. My intro is really cool and I think for the first hour it’s all my music that’s all blended together. The set only has about two other people’s songs but I really tried to focus on making edits of my songs. I know a lot of people are like “man, you stopped playing ‘Anywhere‘” and that was just because sometimes I forget as well when I’m DJing. I’m just in a vibe and then I’m like “oh, I don’t want to go to that one” so I tried to make these cool edits so that I could finally have them to place around sets when I need to. I didn’t realize how much music I have but my favorite song that I’ve ever made has to be “It’s Not Butter” and that’s been in my set forever. I have a new remix I’m playing tonight that I did for Martin Solveig and it kind of has that vibe from my “Morning Sun” remix but it’s way more tropical so look out for that.
***We stayed on the lookout, and he did indeed drop said track.
Photo credit: Jeremy Deputat