Dance music’s funnyman, Dillon Francis, returns this week with a new mixtape that he’s appropriately and cheekily named, This Mixtape Is Fire. Just seven tracks, it boasts a deep roster of guest stars including Skrillex, Calvin Harris, Bro Safari, James Hersey (on a track he re-worked with Kygo), Chromeo, and Party Favor.
Before he takes over the speakers on your nearest dance floor, EW caught up with Francis to chat about touring with Zedd, the four-years-in-the-making collab with Calvin Harris, and how his best set ever was one that went oh so wrong.
Dillon Francis: I guess it is more high-profile now, but I still like being the person searching people out. The song with Chromeo [“Lies”] was actually supposed to be an intermission song on my album but we never got to do anything with it. I just think it’s so sexy, so I used it here. And then the song with James [Hersey, “Coming Over”] was Kygo and I about a year ago in L.A. just reproducing the original song.
Any dream collaborations?
Honestly, the one we did with Calvin Harris was really important to me. We’ve been friends for so long—like four years—and we weren’t ever able to get to do a song together. So just getting it done and getting it on here was really, really big.
Why put out a mixtape now rather than save the material for another album?
I didn’t want this to get stale—and I’ve played all the songs live now. Working on my album took so long to make sure everything sounded correct and current, and there’s so much second-guessing when you have that much time. This was so easy and fun. I wanted it to be done fast and put out fast so my fans would have something for the summer.
“Exit Through The Donut Hole” was hilarious—are you making any more music videos for this?
“Bun Up The Dance Floor” will get one! The idea that Sonny [Skrillex] and I have is very dance-centered, it’s not going to be another donut video where there’s a storyline or anything, it’s going to be a traditional music video. “Bun up the dance” basically means “get crazy on the dance floor” so it’s going to be more just about that.
You’ve been at a ton of festivals, clubs, and concerts this year. Has one stood out from the rest this year?
I played Hard Summer and it was actually a bit of a bummer. I had brought a new light show and set up, with all new edits of my songs—everything was absolutely perfect except the sound engineer at the front… I don’t know what he was doing wrong but he was doing a lot wrong [laughs]. My monitors messed up when it first started and the back speakers blew 20 minutes in. Then the subs kept tipping down. So the sound engineer was awful. But in light of that, I actually think it was one of the best sets that I’ve ever played. I really took influence from Porter Robinson who makes all these amazing edits of his music—I think there are some people at those events to see you be a DJ and play fun records but I think the majority are there to see you play your music and I worked really hard on those edits and mixes. I didn’t get to hear the difference in the back but from my perspective it was awesome. I’d never seen moombahton work so well—it’s cool to see that it’s still happening and that kids are so into the genre.
You’re on Zedd’s tour this fall, what are you most excited for there? Those are some enormous venues.
Maybe I shouldn’t say this, but I’m going to. I’m really excited about the venues and shows, but I’m way more excited about just hanging out with Zedd. We have such a good relationship and it’s so fun when we get to hang out, so yes it will be amazing to play in venues so big but it’s going to be 10 times more amazing because I get to be with one of my best friends. Being on the road can get lonely, actually.
Along with being a donut, you’ve also become a bee recently. Can you tell me about your Bee Positive #Campaign4Change?
Yes! Ray Ban came to us and were like, ‘Hey, we’re doing this #Campaign4Change, what do you want to do?’ And I was like, ‘I want it to be about making people laugh and spreading happiness through the Internet. So we all came up with the idea to be Bee Positive—so I performed the rap and tried to be as wacky as possible so people knew I wasn’t being serious about being a rapper. And I put myself in a bee costume and got myself a nice whip—that car was amazing!