The Rundown: Dillon Francis

L.A.’s homegrown EDM star on music streaming, his strangest claim to fame, and how Deadmau5 dared him to get a tattoo

Story by Morgan Greenwald

27-year-old Los Angeles-based EDM artist Dillon Francis is on the verge of blowing up. It seems like an eternity since he dropped out of Santa Monica Community College and moved back in with his parents in Los Angeles. While he was making remixes and playing local clubs, he caught the eye of Diplo. Thanks to close relationships with EDM mainstays like Skrillex and Zedd, Francis has built his own following in only a few years. In late October he released the “Swiss Army knife of party albums,” Money Sucks, Friends Rule. “I’m not just an artist that makes one genre,” Francis says of his debut album, which features as much pop as it does his signature moombahton.

Dillon Francis plays The Shrine Auditorium on December 20 and 21.

  • Francis’s stage production has evolved along with his music. “One of [my first tours] I just had this sign that said “fuck” on it. Now we have this monstrosity called The Gary,” says Francis. Inspired by Frank Gehry, it’s a custom stage show that he unveiled at Coachella.
  • “Hurricane,” one of the best songs on the newest album, was created from leftover vocal tracks from Francis’ label. “I got the vocals from my manager because someone hadn’t used them on their song. When I heard it I was like, I can’t believe someone passed this up.”
  • The original drop for “Hurricane” is now the hook of “Not Butter”. “When I sent that to my manager, he was like, it seems a little bit too harsh for the song. And that’s how I came up with [“Hurricane”], then slowed down the other one. It all just worked out.”
  • Francis is one of only 14 people that Taco Bell follows on Twitter. “To promote one of my tours, I passed out 60 Doritos Locos tacos in downtown L.A. to homeless people and told them that they should come to my show. [Taco Bell] followed me out of the blue and it was the coolest day of my life.”
  • Growing up in Los Angeles, Francis saw many incredible concerts. His favorites include Ima Robot at the Fonda, Blood Brothers at the Troubadour, and Flogging Molly at the Wiltern, where he got punched in the face. “It wasn’t on purpose. Everyone was pitting and I just got whacked in the face by this dude. He picked me up and said, ‘Everything’s gonna be alright man.’ And I was like, of course it is… for you!”
  • Just days before our interview, Francis visited Safe House Tattoo in Nashville and got his thirteenth tattoo, a rose with the words “Your Mom.” The story behind it? “I was hanging out in Vegas one night and Deadmau5 told Zedd to get ‘Your mom’ tattooed on his arm. Zedd won’t get tattoos and he won’t gamble, so I said I’d do it.”
  • “When We Were Young,” the first music video for Money Sucks, features Sultan & Ned Shepard and The Chain Gang of 1974 along with porn star Sophie Dee, who plays Dillon’s mom. “In the original treatment [director Agata Alexander] wanted to cast a suburban housewife that looked MILF-y; I said we should get a porn star. So we got a bunch of names and I looked up Sophie Dee and I was like, this is the perfect person to play my mom.”
  • Francis embraces music streaming. “I understand why Taylor Swift pulled her music, but for artists like me, it makes sense. Spotify is amazing. I get money from them. I think once the algorithm for payments gets sorted out more, it’s just going to keep getting better and better for the artist. As an artist, you’re going to be able to make more money than actually selling it.”