Making ‘Magic,’ Dillon Francis returns to Belly Up Aspen
IF YOU GO …
Who: Dillon Francis
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Saturday, Jan. 4, 10 p.m.
How much: $100-$235
Tickets: Belly Up box office; bellyupaspen.com
While so many DJs have doubled down on self-seriousness and aggressive assaults of noise, Francis has developed a signature “moombahton” sound that is focused on fun and peppered with the sharp sense of irony that infuses everything he does.
“From the beginning I’ve always wanted people to feel like when they go to my shows it’s like a house party — fun and happy,” Francis, who headlines Belly Up Aspen on Saturday night, said before a December 2018 show here. “And I play everything because I make everything and have horrible A.D.D.”
His latest mixtape, “Magic is Read,” released in November, features an album cover with a unicorn farting a rainbow and an eclectic mix of tracks from the Nitti Gritti collaboration “Salabahton” to the bounce-inflected “Bawdy” with Big Freedia. In mid-December, he released a sweet-hearted remix of Maroon 5’s “Memories,” dedicated to the memory of a childhood friend who died of cancer in late 2019.
Francis, the producer behind stratospheric hits including “Get Low” with G-Eazy and “Coming Over” with Kygo and James Hersey, made his local debut a few days before New Year’s Eve 2017. This weekend’s show marks the third winter in a row where he’s playing Belly Up around the turn of the calendar. One visit overlapped with a Diplo show at Belly Up, and the DJ pair went snowboarding and hit the town together.
“It was probably one of the most memorable trips,” Francis said.
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It reminded Francis of his boyhood family snowboarding vacations in Mammoth and Vail, he said. Last winter he brought along his parents and brother and spent a few days on the mountain with them.
Such breaks are rare for the prolific and increasingly multi-hyphenate artist. Before the latest releases there was the Latin pop-inflected full album “Wut Wut” and the hilarious — and criminally underappreciated — Funny Or Die web series “Like and Subscribe.”
Francis’ comedic chops and brilliant self-parody are familiar to anybody who’s seen his videos like “Need You” and his spots on “What Would Diplo Do.” But “Like and Subscribe” — a seven-episode satire about content creators — was a new creative turn, with Francis playing the ludicrous Hollywood manager Skyy Goldwynne. His inane character locks four clueless web-famous rappers, DJs, YouTubers and teen pop stars in what Goldwynne calls a “social media halfway house.”
“A lot of people didn’t realize I can actually act,” Francis said of the project.
In a notorious and bizarre meta turn, Francis and the “Like and Subscribe” team put up a mural inside a tent on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles as part of the show, announcing they would exclude anyone from taking photos in front of it unless they were verified on social media and had over 20,000 followers. Its existence drew online outrage — and attracted the blue-check crowd — until Francis and the team revealed it as a hoax.
“It’s just a whole different outlet that I can do beyond making music,” he said of writing and acting. “But it all kind of comes from the same creative part of me. … I’ve always loved making people laugh and being in front of people.”
Despite his increasing forays into acting and other media, Francis won’t be walking away from music anytime soon.
“I definitely will always be making music,” he said. “I try to do like 75 percent music and the rest I like to divide among other stuff I’m lucky to be able to do.”
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