Growing up, I always pictured myself working someplace where I’d have to wear a suit,” says Dillon Francis. And though the L.A.-native does in fact suit-up in a gorgeous Givenchy notched lapel, it’s for a career far removed from Wall Street; the 26 year-old DJ’s debut full-length album Money Sucks, Friends Rule will be released this October and he won’t be hitting the stage in jeans and a T-shirt.
“It’s been 6 years in the making,” says Francis, who initially connected with artists like Twista, Martin Garrix and Brendon Urie through Twitter. “There’s a phrase that’s something along the lines of, ‘You master a craft if you put in 10,000 hours.’ And I’ve come close to 10,000 with this one, you push through the bad until you get to the good music. It’s been . . . transformative.”
And Francis’ evolution hasn’t just been melodic. Before getting a preview of the album, he showed us some seriously ’90s #TBT photos to prove that before the designer suits, there were hoodies. Here’s an excerpt from our chat:
Sarah Balch for InStyle.com
What kind of music did you grow up listening to?
Top 40 Radio—Spice Girls, Fiona Apple, Alanis Morissette—and then a bunch of emo music like The Used, Panic at the Disco, Saves the Day.
How did you get your start?
It pretty much began when I was 21. I moved to Atlanta to intern for producer Dallas Austin. I only had enough money to stay for two months, but I made it work–I didn’t let leftover food go to waste. [laughs] When I moved back home, I really dove into electronic music and then began producing.
What’s a typical work day like for you? For some reason, I assume musicians work best at night.
I’m a 9-8 kind of guy, actually. I have a regiment: I wake up, make three poached eggs, two pieces of turkey bacon, one piece of gluten-free bread, and coffee with cream and lots of sugar. The sugar is key; it helps you to sit down and not move.
Reading a crowd seems like such an integral part of DJing. How do you do that?
I can see faces and movement from the stage– you just have to look at that and gage whether people are having fun. People know my music and come to shows for it, so that changes things. But I remember playing at a party for MySpace once. I literally went through every genre and nothing hit.
How did you connect with all of the people who worked with you on the album?
Twitter. That’s how the song with Brendon Urie happened and it’s how I connected with Diplo. My former manager sent him one of the songs I made and heard that he liked it. I instantly went on Twitter and was like, “Hey man, heard you liked the song?” He followed me and that’s how it started.
Now that MSFR is completed, what’s next?
I’m already on to album number two–I know who I’m going to be working with and when I’m going to be working on it. But for now, I’m going to enjoy the ride–relax and just DJ.
Listen to DJ Dillon Francis’s newest single, “When We Were Young” below, plus discover more bands that are currently on our radar now!