For the last decade, Dillon Francis has barely stopped moving. Since he first broke out with a series of vivid, vibrant dance tracks, he's maintained a whirlwind tour schedule, playing festivals and shows across the world. In between making hilarious music videos, designing his own clothing line, and writing a surreal animated TV show, he has, of course, issued a nearly countless number of electrifying cuts. His restlessness has made for otherworldly, overwhelming music and compelling art no matter what medium he's working in. There are always new worlds to explore.
Since rising to prominence as a standout in the colorful moombahton scene of the early 2010s, Francis has made a lot of music, both in collaboration and on his own. He's made head-spinning dance music, brash rap tracks, and breezy reggaeton, though all his best moments blur together all these worlds and more. Part of the fun of listening to Francis' music has become that you never know exactly what you're going to get.
The diversity of his catalog has always been a strength -- his genre bending hit "Get Low" with DJ Snake was RIAA- certified platinum, "Coming Over" with Kygo [feat. James Hersey] was RIAA-certified gold plus topped the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, "Sexo" with Residente was RIAA-certified Latin gold, and "Anywhere" [feat. Will Heard] went to #1 on Dance Radio Airplay. His production work for other artists has been stunning too. Panic
at the Disco's "Hey Look Ma I Made It" -- for which Francis helped craft the lush, colorful instrumental -- was certified 2x Platinum and spent 65 straight weeks atop Billboard's Hot Rock Songs chart. That's to say nothing of tracks which have become underground hits at clubs and festivals around the world. And it all comes from following whatever sound or style caught his ear that day; his biggest singles and wildest experiments are linked by the unrestrained joy of always following his boldest impulses.
It's a philosophy that's gone outside of his musical work. As his production schedule has gotten busier and busier, he's simultaneously branched out into other art forms. Recently, he's been revising scripts on his long-awaited animated series Gerald's World, currently in development with 20th Century/Wonderland. He's also always hard at work on his kaleidoscopic Gerald clothing line with Barney Cools. He's launched NFT projects with skater and digital artist Chad Knight, among others. And that's just the stuff he's up to right now. Over the last decade, Francis has built his career by adopting whatever wild idea strikes him on a given day, learning as he goes -- making bold, brilliant art by refusing to stand still.
Francis' newest music is the result of, for a moment at least, slowing down a bit. Like everyone else, 2020 was a more internal, reflective time for Francis. Sitting at home in lockdown, he had time to think about what the busy last ten years had meant to him. What he felt, mostly, was gratitude. "When you're touring you don't really get to look back," Francis says. "A lot of cool stuff has happened in my life, but I never really got to think about it that much because I was always pushing forward and thinking 'what's the next thing?'"
While he was at home, he thought a lot about the music that he gravitated to when times get tough. He was already playing a lot of sunny house tracks during Coronight Fever, a weekly DJ stream with his longtime friend and collaborator Diplo, and he realized that's what he wanted to make -- music that could make people smile. "This is one of the most depressing times ever," he admits. "So I was just trying to figure out how I could make people happy through my music and make it super authentic."
What resulted is an album composed entirely of euphoric house songs, full of soulful vocals, blissful beats and the comforting warmth of pure rave energy. You can hear both the jubilance and the desperation to transcend trying times in the airy single "Unconditional," which swirls rapturous piano stabs and a buoyant percussion single with an uplifting vocal courtesy of British singer-songwriter Bryn Christopher. "I'll be by your side," he sings. "Dry your eyes." It's the perfect sort of track to arrive right as clubs reopen around the world -- it's affecting and emotional, but ecstatic too. Elsewhere, glowing, gleeful tracks like "Love Me Better" feel tailormade to soundtrack an idyllic summer on the Balearic Islands. Unrelentingly bright and beautiful, there's no better music for crying tears of joy on the dancefloor.
That energy has always been infectious, but never more so than in the midst of a time of turmoil. Hearing his boundless experimentation suggests a world of possibility, that the joy in his songs is attainable, that we'll all be dancing together again soon. "I tried to release as much happy music as I possibly could throughout quarantine," Francis says. "But it's really cool that this is all getting finished right in time with everything opening up. I think it's pretty serendipitous."
The world is beginning to whirr back into motion, so is Francis, bouncing between projects with gleeful aplomb, ready to make up for the time we lost. As ever, his work is about believing in his impulses, knowing that his ideas are fruitful, and trusting that the resulting energy will be contagious. "It's about how and where I'm going to make people have fun as that's more important than ever in these times," he says.