By the end of 2015, there will be one name everyone in the electronic community will be talking about saying it was “his/her year”. 2015 thus far has been incredible for the scene in terms of new music and its ever-changing landscape of artists and sounds, and so many names have continued to build off of their previous success with others leapfrogging high into the spotlight. We got new full length albums and new sounds from established stars such as Zedd, David Guetta, Calvin Harris, and Steve Aoki, as well as up-and-comers such as Galantis, Keys & Krates, Robin Schulz, and Kygo. So many artists delivered big and many also missed the mark, but one DJ has reigned supreme as having that year where not only did they hit, but they hit big and thrust themselves into main event status in the EDM world.
That artist is Dillon Francis. Francis, on the verge of turning just 28 in October, seems like he has done no wrong in 2015 and has gone from pleasant festival surprise to must-hear must-see performance. He has collaborated with some of the biggest name in the industry (Skrillex, Calvin Harris, Martin Garrix) as well as keeping some joint projects in a more underground tone (Brandon Urie, Lily Elise, James Hersey) to showcase his insane musical range like no one has ever seen or heard before.
The first time I had ever heard of the IDGAFOS kingpin was back in 2013 at BUKU in New Orleans. Back then the cool part about Francis was he was mostly a word-of-mouth act; as in, you heard from other people at the festival how good this guy is and you have to go see him. The exact phrase directed toward me was “dude, you have to go see this guy, his sets are insane”. So, myself and my friends stumbled over to his stage and laid witness to what was indeed an insane set that not only captivated us but had us yearning for more from this mystery mastermind.
Fast-forward to late 2014 and the man put out his first full length album, Money Sucks Friends Rule, that at one point perched itself high up as the #1 dance album in the U.S. on iTunes (just the title alone speaks to the pure nature of Francis). And that recognition has been well-deserved. Francis, despite a newfound mainstream success and rapidly growing popularity, has stuck to his guns and is still holding true to what made him one of the most beloved acts not only amongst the EDM community, but amongst the DJ community as well. Anyone who has followed him on SnapChat or Instagram over the years has become familiar with his hilarious antics (drunk cooking, “I’m a DJ”, cribs) as well as his plethora of alter egos (Hanzel, Becky, Greg) and his lighthearted way of looking at life as a DJ and in general. Plain and simple, the guy loves what he does and has a lot of fun doing it, and you can tell it is a genuine and pure love he has for the music, his fellow producers, and his increasingly loyal fan base.
The success of the debut album trickled into 2015 as the popularity grew with each week and with each set and more recognition to his unique blend of sounds and genres became more apparent. His style has been quite all over the place since I first saw him over two years ago, ranging from trap-centric songs such as “Bootleg Fireworks”, to house anthems such as “When We Were Young”, to multi-genre songs like “Love In The Middle of A Firefight”, but this year the mainstream world finally got a strong taste of his bread and butter and where he got his start: moombahton. This style, described as a fusion of house and reggaeton, is where Dillon is most comfortable and possibly most successful. Moombahton stayed primarily underground for a while, but Francis took a risk (like more aspiring artists should do) and unleashed a pure moombahton EP beast on the world simply titled “This Mixtape Is Fire”. This EP, mirroring his debut album, skyrocketed to number one on the iTunes dance charts and still hangs around in that area to this very day. He successfully brought one of the coolest sounds in dance music to the forefront, and is now playing moombahton on main stages at some of the biggest festivals in the world.
However, beyond his recorded music, Dillon Francis is one of the strongest live performers going today. My fandom for him grew not with each song release, but with each performance I got to see live (now totaling 5 times). I have never seen someone not only crush a live performance time and time again without fail, but to do it with a wildly different set each time. Nor have I ever seen someone with the cojones to end his set with a Whitney Houston song or throw in some Backstreet Boys for good measure. His sets are always electric, high energy, and get you moving and your heart pumping like you just ran the Boston Marathon. His song choice, mixes, and interaction with the crowd is incredible, and it seems he is really coming into his own and honing his craft with each show or festival he plays.
2015 has been all about the 27-year old fun-loving producer from California. You can hear his music in the mainstream light of TV commercials, on the radio, at sporting events; you name it, Dillon Francis can be heard at it. Yet astonishingly, he is still somewhat of a word of mouth underground festival all-star that everyone loves. There are some artists in the world that do not let you in on anything personal, or any of their musical processes, or any sort of insight on their daily lives. Dillon is not that artist; he lets you hear new songs as they’re being made, shows his random shenanigans with some stars that make you star struck just watching as he messes around with them naturally and comfortably, and even takes time to thank his followers and fans for their undying support. How can you not love a guy who shows so much love for what he does? You can just tell he loves what he does and genuinely appreciates everything he is earning right now and is living it up to the fullest. And who can blame him. This is your year Dillon, enjoy it. I know we surely will.