In the midst of one of my daily SoundCloud browsing sessions, I tumbled across the page of Joey Da Rin, an Australian producer from Brisbane making music as Young Franco. The first song I played caught my attention immediately. It was his upbeat house remix of Kilter's "Hold Me" that had me wishing I was on a beach somewhere with a pina colada in hand.
Joey's first EP, FUTUREFUNK had me instantly addicted along with his remixes that venture away from house and into hip-hop, merging a splendid balance between the two.
When we spoke on Skype for the first time his welcoming and bright introduction made it seem like we'd know each other for a while. Through our hour-long conversation I got to delve into the story of what makes Young Franco's music the treasure that it is. Find out for yourself while you listen to his newest dance track filled with faint basslines and lively chopped up vocal samples, "Hurricane."
THUMP: How's it going? The sunny Australian weather must be why your music sounds like sunshine.
Joey: I don't like to think I'm writing to suit the weather, but it's just how I feel!
I also think it's because there's some really great stuff coming out of Australia at the moment. The Sweat It Out roster—Motez, Indian Summer, they're all killing it. So it's not really the weather, but the other sounds coming out of Australia right now.
Starting with the basics, you were DJing before you started producing, how old were you when you started and what made you want to do it?
I was probably fifteen. I was always interested in hip-hop culture, which was really my first love. In grade eight and nine, all that '90s hip-hop, I was really into and I guess that's what led me into wanting to DJ. I also loved scratching and the culture of turntables and vinyls—Craze, A-Trak, DMC.
So, the obvious question, why Young Franco? Is it because you look a bit like James Franco?
My middle name is Francis. But it was also… maybe. [Laughs] I usually just say to people that my middle name's Francis and that's why. He's doing really well though, ol' James Franco, on the Internet. People always send me links to him doing weird shit.
You just finished touring with Alison Wonderland and Wave Racer. How did it feel to be rolling with some Australian big names?
It was crazy! The warehouse parties were between 1-2000 people each show, and every time it reached capacity. And it's not like the opening act got 100 people watching, and the got 800 and the final got the most, you know? It was more like one huge party the whole way through.
It was great because I love playing house music and then Wavey comes in and plays that future beat shit. Alison comes in and plays the heavier, rusty stuff, and it just fits really well. Those dudes are really nice and really good to be around—quite happy and really motivated to kill it. It's great being around people like that whom you don't necessarily get to be around when you're studying engineering. Or in Brisbane, there are not a lot of people who are as big as Alison I guess.
You started playing out a lot through your residency at The Bowler Bar in Brisbane. How did that residency come about?
Basically once I turned 18 I went to a lot of hip-hop gigs and was immersing myself in the Brisbane music scene. A rap artist named Mr. Hill was looking for someone to DJ for him and asked me to do a few shows. Through him I met Benji, my manager, who is also now one of my really close friends. Benji does a lot of work at that bar; he asked me if I wanted to play on a night they had Parachute Youth and The Knocks. I was pretty unhappy with my set but luckily it was enough to be asked back, which turned into an awesome residency and making heaps of new friends.
Do you still play there?
Yeah, I do every week, but I don't play under Franco because it doesn't really make sense to be doing local stuff anymore. But I just do it because I enjoy it. It's good to be able to go out every weekend and relax when you're just writing all week. And it's good to play new songs and test them to see how they sound on big speakers.
It's great that you still get to do that. What's next for Young Franco?
I think just writing as much as I can without burning out, and trying to work on different genres and build it up that way.
I'm trying to get better at songwriting too, rather than just making beats—melodies and top lines. It's all pretty much originals at the moment. I don't just write house music, I also write hip-hop beats. You know Ta-ku?
I love Ta-ku, would you say his style has influenced you?
That's what I wrote when I first started making music. All I wanted to make was instrumental hip-hop like Ta-ku and Memorecks. I always used a beat pad and chopped up samples and put drums over it. When my love for disco came from listening to old records: soul, funk and jazz, I wanted to try venturing into that category.
I love Kaytranada, Ta-ku, Disclosure, Sampha and Louis Fouton. I think everything that's really good is so simple when you break it down. But the way they do it is incredible, and that's something I'd like to learn a bit better.
I will also listen to an album until I destroy it. I'm on the end of listening to Chance the Rapper's album. I love it because he's doing his own thing and he's not like anyone else, he's a character.
Would you ever try rapping?
[Laughs] have you heard of any Aussie rappers? See, I started out listening to Aussie hip-hop, but there are a few good ones and then there are a lot of bad ones. There's a certain accent, as silly as that sounds, an accent shouldn't put you off music, but it does.
So what do you think about Iggy Azealia? She's an Aussie.
I think it was a good idea for her not to associate herself with Australian rap if she wanted to expand in the American market. It's a funny thing with Australian rap; there's a history, its called barbeque rap. Like I said, there are some really talented musicians, but there's a lot of really bad rap out there too. Iggy's cool though. She's doing her thing I reckon. Would you ever try rapping?