Young Franco: "If You Pretend To Be Someone Else, It's Never Gonna Work"

Written By Annie Cooper on 10/23/2015

Young Franco is one very busy dude. In the past two years the Brisbane producer has been blowing up our collective SoundCloud and Spotify playlists, and is currently in the middle of his national tour promoting new single, Don't U Want Me. Known for his modern club twist on a myriad of genres ranging from hip hop to 80's beats, the young-gun is surely a force to be reckoned with.

Just before embarking on his national tour we chatted with the producer about what to expect from his live shows, his influences and what's next in the Young Franco story.


So I have to ask the obvious question, how’d you pick the name Young Franco?

My middle name is Francis. (Laughs) It's a boring answer. So, I kind of wanted my own name, I was DJing under Joey for a while and I was kind of just like, I wouldn't mind separating it. I liked the idea of the name, and then it kind of caught on a little bit. I kind of started DJing with it, and it was a bit of a joke... and then I was like, I'm too far in now so I stuck with it.

So what came first for you, DJing or producing?

I was DJing first. I was maybe 16, and on turntables and then I kind of progressed. You know, when I was 18 I started writing and producing, and getting a bit more serious about it.

I know that you’re into hip hop as well, how do you feel about Australian hip hop?

It's good! It's good. It's got its own... I think the problem with anything that's so deeply Australian, you know, there's a lot of people doing the same stuff. Like, I love The Hilltop Hoods, and Remi's amazing. Allday's really good too, Dylan Joel's really good! But yeah, I used to love it. I don't think I listen to it as much anymore. Was that a safe answer? (Laughs).

Yeah, that's a good answer! So your new single Don’t U Want Me has been met with a pretty good reception, judging from fans comments on social media. Is it surreal to have such a ridiculously large amount of people connect with and enjoy your music?

Yeah, I've been lucky! Like, I get really random tweets from people who I really look up to and they message me about it, and that's pretty exciting. The other things that have been really cool, Annie Mac played it on BBC Radio 1, and it got played on Beats Radio. So those are the things that are really exciting, you know, stuff that you didn't even think could happen, have happened... and that's the cool part I guess!

Was there a certain time when things picked up for you? Or was it more of a gradual thing?

Yeah! It's been pretty gradual I think. You know, I wrote the first EP and it did okay, I toured off it. I did a few remixes, they did okay- and I did a song called Close 2 U with JOY. which did well too! So, it's been good. I don't think it's been like theres been any big hit, in a sense. I've been lucky with that, and I think that's the better way of going about it. It slowly increases, people get into it and you kind of just take it off from there.

You’ve played at some pretty big festivals, like Splendour. And you’re obviously pretty used to performing at clubs, is there a considerable difference between playing a club or a festival?

There is! And it's actually not a bad or a good thing. I think club shows are great because they're intimate, and you can get into the crowd and kind of like, make a kind of contact with people. And Splendour, you know, festivals are amazing 'cause they're just huge and you get to experience the whole thing. There's so many bands you can see, and the people, and the food, it's an experience! I think they just kind of compliment each other, like you don't wanna just do festivals, and you don't wanna just do clubs shows either. You've gotta have a balance.

Do you have any interesting festival stories for us? Or even club stories.

Ohhh! I can't think of any at the top of my head. I think... (groans) you know, I might have to come back to that! Ask me again later.

I'll try to remember to! I know you started playing a lot through your residency at The Bowler Bar in Brisbane, do you still play there?

Yeah, I play there sometimes. I went there on the weekend, I didn't play there then, but I went and saw Motez and he was unreal. I saw Pomo before that as well. And yeah, I don't play there regularly anymore but whenever a good act comes around I definitely find the time, I'm there.

 Besides from The Bowler Bar, do you have any other favourite places in Australia to play?

Um, I had a really good time at Hobart (laughs)! Yeah, I can't remember what the bar was. It was supporting Miami Horror though, it was great. I've had some really good shows, Perth is always like, unreal. Like, Perth has always been a really good vibe, the people at Pilerats and Metric have some really cool stuff going on. I also... I'm just trying to think off the top of my head. Sydney, The Wall was really cool. Yeah, there's a few ones that I can't really think of! But, I love playing hometown shows. Hometown shows are great. There's always good vibes, and you get a lot of people in the door, it's cool.

You’ve performed with some pretty big names as well, like Alison Wonderland for instance. What have you learned from them, if anything?

I think... Alison's super down to earth. And just, you know, she's doing so well, and it's just nice to have someone who's a big inspiration, but also someone you can talk to! And you know, talk to about the things that she's gone through in terms of her building herself up after such a long time, she didn't just blow up. She's been working really hard. It's good to see someone like that who has been working for a very long time, and she's kind of hitting it, smashing it now. It's really good to see, and it's good to be able to talk to someone about stuff, I guess.

Yeah, of course. If you had to pick one, who’s your favourite producer to collaborate with? And who would you like to collaborate with in the future?

Yeah, I love Disclosure and a guy called Pomo over in Canada. Nile Rodgers would be cool (laughs), you know there's some really... MNEK would be amazing, Jameson's really cool. I think anyone, whether or not they're small or big would be good to work with, as long as they've got a good vibe and are into the same stuff that I am. I think that's when stuff could really work.

Is there anything in particular that motivates you to remix a specific song?

I just remix stuff when I think, 'oh I love this song!', and I'd love to have a go at my interpretation of it. Theres no real method, just sometimes I really like a song and kind of just want to work it my way!

What are some of the early producers that really got you into music?

I used to love... DJ Premier was amazing. A lot of hip hop guys, A Tribe Called Quest I used to love. Yeah, and also like disco people like... The Bee Gees are great, The Whispers are amazing. So yeah, I take influence from a lot of different things!

You’re pretty active on social media. How do you think social media effects your relationship with fans, and getting your name out there?

Well, it's just pretty critical I think, with the way everything's been changing in the last five to ten years with the Internet. And you know, you can put things on SoundCloud and you can reach thousands of people in a very short amount of time. It's pretty phenomenal. You know, I think social media's very important, and you know, being active on it. It's good to be able to connect with people online.

Considering the large amount of young producers trying to get their name out there, what advice would you have for any up and comers?

I think just be yourself. Don't worry about what people are gonna think about your music, it's a bit of a cheesy answer but it's true! Like, don't worry about what other people are doing, and kind of just do you, and it'll all work out. If you pretend to be someone else... It's never gonna work.

So after this tour wraps up, what will you be working on?

I'm working on the next single, and I'm doing a thing with Jack Daniels which I can't really say much more about at the moment, but it's sliding to a very exciting place. You'll find out about that kind of soonish!

I can't wait to hear. That's all from me, thanks again for speaking to me, have fun on the rest of the tour!

No worries, thank you!

Young Franco will set sail with Australia's first ever floating festival Sea N Beats in March.