Dillon Francis on How He Has Fun, Loves Moombahton, and Hates Reality Shows

Dillon Francis is anything but boring. For proof of said statement, look no further than any of his social-media outlets, all of which are filled with hilarious (and oftentimes bizarre) images and videos that illustrate the DJ and producer’s absurd and irreverent sense of humor.

Over on his constantly updated Instagram and Twitter feeds, there are clips of Francis’ misadventures with his pet piñata, Gerald, or other offbeat randomness. (To wit: One recent series of clips features him flipping out in comedic fashion over the RIAA accidentally misspelling the word “certification” on his platinum record for his blockbuster track, “Get Low.”) Meanwhile, his YouTube account features episodes of DJ World, the parody series he created with fellow producer Getter and Vine superstar Nick Coletti that skewers both EDM culture and the vapidity of reality television.

Among all these gags and amusing examples of Francis’ off-kilter sense of humor, you’ll also encounter his latest tracks and music videos, which are heavily influenced by moombahton, including the recently released single “Candy,” which have proven to be phenomenally popular.

Francis has become one of the EDM world’s more notable producers in recent years, as evidenced by the success of several tracks he’s helped create, including "When We Were Young,” "Set Me Free,” and “Coming Over.” Then there’s the aforementioned hit, “Get Low,” a collaboration with current “it” producer DJ Snake that the EDM world went bonkers over back in 2014.

Despite all his success in the EDM world, Francis seems downright humble about his career. When New Times spoke with Francis recently by telephone in honor of his Fourth of July performance at Maya Day and Nightclub in Scottsdale, he described how he feels lucky to be able to do what he does for a living.

“It's really cool that every year it just keeps getting better and better,” Francis says, “and I'm able to give different music and different jokes on Instagram and the DJ World stuff. I'm just having fun, and I wouldn't be able to do that without being able to play all those shows.”

Besides exploring how Francis is having a blast both onstage and off, we also discussed how his particular sense of humor is a reflection of his now-famous mantra of “I.D.G.A.F.O.S.” (shorthand for “I Don’t Give a Fuck or Shit”), how it may have stemmed from his sheltered childhood, why he loves moombahton, and what goes into creating episodes of DJ World.

Oh, and we also inquired about what he’s got planned for his Fourth of July performance at Maya and how it may (or may not) include wizard staffs or flying hot dogs.

Let's get the most important question out of the way first. Have you gotten a new platinum record for "Get Low" with the proper spelling of "certification" on it?
Yes. They somehow sent it immediately. I don't know; someone must've seen it, and I got it the next day at like mid-day. So, probably the fastest platinum record I've been given from someone after they messed it up, I think.

God bless Instagram.
God bless it. [Laughs]

Per your motto, why don't you give a fuck or shit about anything?
Um … it's not not giving a fuck or shit about anything, it's just [that] the whole motto of it is pretty much staying positive and not caring about what other people think when doing your thing.

Some of your Instagram videos and Snapchats, while hilarious, are sometimes pretty out there. Have you ever had any ideas for stuff like that have been too extreme and you've wound up not using?
Yeah, probably. I mean, there are definitely some videos in my phone that I record and I'm like, "Uh, that's probably not going to work that well if I post that." [Laughs]

Like what? Anything you could tease us with that we're never going to see?
At one time I made this video because I got a flashlight from Fleshlight, which I think is the most ironic thing ever, and I made this joke video of me pretending to have sex with it and then calling Fleshlight and being like, "Hey, don't really know how to have sex with this flashlight. It lights up, lights the way, but it's just not really fun to have sex with because it bruised my dick." I showed it to one of my friends and he's like, "Eh, I don't know man." And I was like, "Okay, cool. No worries." I thought it was really funny, but the few people that I show stuff to sometimes in confidence were like, "Eh, you've done better." So I just couldn't post it. So there you go. That's one from my weird mind.

Suffice it to say, your sense of humor is very off-kilter. Is it a byproduct of your sheltered childhood or the way you were raised?
[Laughs] I don't know. It could be. I don't think I was raised in a weird way. I mean, I was just very sheltered until I was like 13 and that's when I met one of my best friends, Dean, and he already knew "fuck," "shit," "ass" ... all those words, and I didn't even know 'em and I started using 'em with him. I kinda learned everything from him in terms of like swearing and pissing people off and listening to weird music.

We were referring to your sheltered childhood, like how your parents said you could only watch Sesame Street while growing up.
It definitely could be that. When I was growing up and going to school, I was always the [class clown]. I think after middle school, it definitely was an influence from the people that I grew up with. I went to school at Laurel Hall [in Los Angeles] and a lot of the guys in that school were very disruptive, but I think we all kind of just became those type of kids, like we'd fart on desks. Like I remember this one kid farted so loud that he flew off his desk. He scared himself. And it was during the teacher talking. And it was the funniest thing that I had ever seen. The whole class was cracking up. And it smelled so bad that everyone had to leave the classroom. It was so fucking funny.

So I think going to school at Laurel Hall kind of made that happen, and then throughout high school I was getting kicked out of class for disrupting too much and saying too many jokes and all that stuff. I just loved making people laugh. That's such a joy to me. It's the joy that I get when I make music but that same type of joy when I can see someone smile and be happy for a sec.

You've come through Phoenix a number of times, both for solo gigs and with festivals. Every time we've seen you, it seems like you're having a blast while performing. Why is that?
I get really happy when I see people enjoying themselves. I never thought that it [EDM] would get to where it is. I don't think a lot of people that were doing this style of music ever thought it was going to get to like building a fucking stage that looks like Disney Music Hall. I never thought I was going to be able to do that, so it's really cool that every year it just keeps getting better and better and I'm able to give different music and different jokes on Instagram and the DJ World stuff. I'm just having fun, and I wouldn't be able to do that without being able to play all those shows, because those are all paid for by myself, just big funny videos with Getter and Nick [Colletti]

So what is DJ World about?
We wanted to make fun of DJ culture but even more really just out there. Because its not just us making fun of DJ culture because its like a hybrid, making fun of stupid reality shows and these weird people that have been on reality shows and then us trying to push the limit of what the fuck is going on in this world.

Is it improv or scripted?
It's improv. The whole time we don't know what the fuck we're going to say. Like there's definitely some cuts, maybe we'll put 'em out when we're done with it, but there are cuts [from] the recent one where Nick says, "I'm going to need you to bust one of those loads all over my face." Right when he said that, I have never laughed so hard and felt so uncomfortable in my entire life, because it was so out of nowhere. [Laughs] We didn't know if we were going to use it, but then when we put it in, we were like, "Oh my god!" I think its going to shock people too. We did want to get a little shock value in there.

So which of the three characters you portray on DJ World — Danny, Craig, or Donovan — are you most like in real life?
Let's see, probably Craig Braidathon, the announcer guy. I think its my favorite character.

Why? Because he's kind of a dick?
He's so weird. He's just like so spastic. He's like the embodiment of some weird announcer guy that would be at the NBA but not the NBA. And also J-Rock from Trailer Park Boys.

This might be a little deep, but are those three characters from different parts of your personality or whatever.
They're just random characters I made up. Just literally talking to the camera and we were just saying random things and then the characters are born from that.

Are your videos, social media posts, and stuff like DJ World a way to air your views of the DJ industry?
I don't know if it’s that much of me airing my views on the DJ industry. It’s just us making fun of whatever. Like so many people have tried to come to me to make a reality TV show and I told them I'd never want to do it because its the stupidest thing ever. The only reality shows that I like and I think the whole world likes is like Anthony Bourdain and that's because he shows you cool fucking food. And the was [Insomniac] with Dave Attell, that was really good. But those make sense.

And so whenever anyone says, "Hey, you do the DJ thing," I feel like I don't want to ever have a reality show because they're stupid, like reality shows are just people complaining and then somehow something gets or doesn't get resolved because they can't get their car washed or some stupid shit, but somehow we're so self-involved with. Like I can't believe that Keeping Up with the Kardashians is a show and its still running.

Reality shows have always seemed so contrived.
Yeah, because its all not even reality, as well. Its all just people like, "So let's make this big problem in your life and the we're going to record it. We'll pretend its real and then we'll put in some other real stuff but its pretty much fake, too." Anyways, I'm going off on a tangent ...

It's cool.
... but that's why we the show was to really make fun of that mentality, to drive home how much we hate reality shows. Thing is, a year later they're going to call me and I'm going to be on a reality show. [Laughs]

Why does Gerald star in the video for your latest track, "Candy"?
Because he's got a bunch of candy in him and he breaks it down super hard.

Should we be concerned with how Gerald is doing these days, considering there's an Instagram video of him doing coke off an iPad? Should we stage an intervention?
Yeah, yeah. I'm probably going to have to call his parents and we're going to have to have an intervention and send him to rehab. I mean, the last time he was with me in Vegas, he was drinking lots until he blacked out and passed out and I had to hose him off with the power hose. [Laughs]

So will you have more Gerald piñatas for sale through your online store? You've already sold out the first batch.
Uh, maybe. We'll see. I think we'll do another hot drop of like 50 of 'em.

Are you bringing Gerald to Arizona with you when you perform at Maya on the Fourth of July?
It depends on if he's in rehab yet or not. [Laughs] He might have to be with me there because if he's not in rehab then I definitely can't leave him at home.

Is there anything else you have planned for your Fourth of July set at Maya? Like maybe some fireworks?
I hope there's fireworks. I'll definitely bring a sparkler, that's for sure. Maybe throw some hot dogs into the crowd. That seems like a big Fourth of July thing to do. Hopefully people are making wizard staffs. I want to see a bunch of wizard staffs. I'll make one too.

You collaborated with GTA and Snappy Git on "Candy." What did each of them bring to the party?
Well, the collaboration was really, really easy. GTA and I got into the studio and we sat there and worked on the song. We pretty much finished it in one day. There was like a couple more back and forths with us. 
First, it was a song that we had Lil Jon on it, but then Lil Jon didn't want us to put his vocals on it and then he put the vocals that we had on that song on another and released it. And then we didn't have any vocals for the song and there's also a little interlude that we had made that was like this kind of weird, sad trappy part that we wanted some person singing [over it]. We had to nix that and luckily GTA actually had old vocals from Snappy that they had never used on a song before and they fit perfectly. So I didn't get to get into the studio with Snappy, but being in a studio with GTA was probably the easiest thing ever because we're very like-minded producers and we knew exactly what we'd wanted to do when we were making the song.

Are you sticking with releasing singles right now or this leading up to a new mixtape or album?
Yeah, its just singles right now. I have another one coming out sometime in...probably August and that one's more like song-based. It's kind of like "Without You," so I'm going towards that direction now and I think then I'll start doing some more singles that will actually be maybe for a full length. But I'm just having fun right now. I'm really just enjoying putting out as much music as possible for like club stuff and having fun with my friends. It's tough getting in that "album mode" when you're touring so much when you don't have a month or two off to just really write something and make it a cohesive thing. This time I actually really want to make it a cohesive project.

You're still a big champion of moombahton. Is it still you're preferred genre?

Do you think its still as big as it was five years ago?
Actually, I think it is. Moombahton is like the reggaeton-ish style, so "Lean On" that's pretty much a moombah record. I think three songs off of Drake's album are pretty much in that moombahton tempo. And then these kids, I think its SpydaT.E.K and someone else, they just put out an amazing moombahton song on Mad Decent called "Duro Bass." It's fucking awesome. And I think it's not at that point where everyone was [chattering] about it, but I think a lot of people are still making it. Those are all top songs.

I love moombahton but I'm waiting for others to do whatever the fuck happens. Its so much fun when new genres are made in dance music or anything because there's no rules and everyone can go in and do what they want at the beginning until there's a certain sound set that needs to be or a certain way the track needs to be structured.

Any chance you're going to collaborate with DJ Snake again on anything in the future?
Yeah. We were literally just talking about that yesterday. He said he was going to send me some samples that he really liked that he wanted to work on. He's been really busy because he just finished working on his album.

Is there anything you could share about DJ Snake that he's too embarrassed to admit himself?
Uh...I don't know. He doesn't like pictures of him without glasses on, I know that.

We've never not seen him without his shades on.
Yeah...he hates when people send him pictures of him without sunglasses. That's his vibe. You've got to stick with his vibe or else he'll get mad.

Its not like he's got laser eyes that he doesn't want the public to know about.
Nah, definitely not. That would be awesome if he did though.

Your love for Taco Bell is pretty well known. How cool was it to have "Get Low" featured in a Taco Bell commercial, especially one with two senior citizens flashing each other?
[Laughs] It was awesome. I mean, Taco Bell has been such an awesome...It's so cool that the people there like me and I like them, because they did "Get Low" in there and there's a recent one, too, where "Masta Blasta (The Rebirth)" was in another commercial. But they like me and I like them and they keep using my music. So it's awesome to be able to hear my music constantly on TV when I'm watching it.

Did they pay you in money or in tacos?
[Chuckles] They paid me in money. I didn't want any tacos. I stay in shape, man. Don't want to get a tour belly.
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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.