Young Franco has been making iso-2020 feel like we’re still ripping up a dance floor on the weekends even though in reality, we’re just vacuuming.
His tracks are iconically electro-disco dance brushed with a stroke of hip hop that makes it impossible to sit still while listening.
This year’s phenomenally successful track “Juice” feat. Pell is being backed up with the equally impressive “Two Feet” feat. Pell and Dana Williams. It’s a dream team going full throttle (and as we learned, they’ve got a catalogue of unreleased fuel they’re sitting on).
We chatted to Young Franco, a.k.a. Joey, about the release which now soundtracks an Apple commercial, and what other projects he’s up to.
Joey, how are you going?
I’m good. How are you doing?
I’m not too bad. Show me what’s on your nails today. What have you got going on?
So I took them off because they were really annoying me, but I still have… I’ll give you the better look. [Showing his nails] So it was like that on this hand, and then I left it here, but my friend Victoria did them. But yeah, it was time to trim them. So they’re looking a bit janky at the moment, but they’re still there.
I was going to ask if you’d ever been to her salon because I saw in your little promo video for “Two Feet”. When you were giving yourself a pedicure, I was like, “Is that Mannequin Hands Studios?” I’ve never been there, but I was like, “It’s a bit iconic, those checkerboard floors.”
It’s so iconic and it’s in Newtown so it’s this really great spot in this random building with some lawyers and stuff. And you open up the door, it’s this really cool studio.
Where are you right now?
I’m in Annandale. I just had coffee with some friends, and then I’m going to have a session with some friends later. So I just thought I’d sit in the sun for a little bit.
Oh, that’s really nice. So you’re a Brissy kid. I’m originally a Brissy kid. When did you move down to Sydney?
Four years ago I think. I think it was December. It was around this time four years ago. And I was like, “I’m just going to pack some bags and go down,” and just drove my car down and was sort of like, “I’ll just go for the summer and do a small rental situation,” and then, “I don’t think I want to go back.” So that was why I’m here. Why you are stuck with me in this city.
Why do you keep following me around?!
I’m kidding, you have been here way longer than I have. Okay. So did you come up through the Brisbane club scene then? When did it all begin? How did Young Franco happened?
I think the start-start, there was this really cool record store, in Brisbane, and I went there a lot.
What, like Rocking Horse Records or something?
No, it’s one called Butter Beats and it’s a Fortitude Valley one. It’s a bit more hip hop, soul-oriented, a bit more second hand. And then I just kept annoying them enough that they were telling me about a record store meetup that they did on Sundays and people used to go to. And I met people through there and then met people within the local scene and then met a guy called Benji who ran a club called Bowler Bar at the time. And then sort of just kept growing it from there. It’s a very niche Brisbane story that I think only Brisbane people will… Not relate to, but understand the locations and stuff.
Yeah, I can see you just jumping around the streets of Fortitude Valley, like a little kid going, “Hey guys, let me in!”
Totally. “Music! Music is here!” And I’m sure you did the same. I used to email venues, “Oh, De La Soul’s playing. Do you reckon it’s all ages?” It’s like, “Of course it’s not all ages you idiot.”
Dude, the days of Alhambra Lounge under 18 gigs, those were a highlight.
See, I never went to them. I never… I think I went to one Yves Klein Blue x Last Dinosaurs show at the Brisbane Powerhouse. And that was the best, so good.
So at what point did you ditch like studying engineering and just go ‘Full Franco’?
I think I was 21 and I was toying with the idea of just… I kept going back for a semester and then coming back. And I think it wasn’t serving me in a way that I wasn’t getting fulfilled and I didn’t see myself in that world. And I think I kind of transitioned more so than just did the whole ‘make it or break it’ thing. I think I needed to transition and make myself move from that world. And started getting work and doing international shows and stuff. I was like this… it was either that or staying at university and sitting an exam I didn’t care about. So it was sort of a no-brainer.
That makes a lot of sense. Just like dip your toes in and then go slide right into there. But have you always been likened to a Franco brother? How did, was that something that happened through high school? Where did the name Young Franco come about?
That was… My middle name is Francis.
Oh, okay! I mean, but there is a resemblance, right? People would be like, “Oh, it he looks like a Franco!”
I think so. I think that was sort of like a silly joke. And then I started doing like local sets under that name. And then I was like, I wasn’t using an O at the time as Y U N G. And then I was like, this is stupid. I should just add an O and then it got to the point where I don’t really think about it that much, but I realised that was the origins of it. So, yeah. Interesting.
It’s pretty cute. Let’s talk about your music then. Congrats on “Two Feet”!
What a freaking awesome tune. I’m loving everything that you’re doing with Pell. How did you guys link up?
So, I hit him up personally. Oh actually no, I knew of his, one of his record label people and he teed it up at… It’s Ultra Records, and he teed it up and we met and it was just really nice. It was like meeting someone for the first time, but thinking you knew him forever, in this weird way. And it was like, “Hey, what do you think of this?” And he was like, “Sure”. And he just got on it. I was like, it’s pretty good. And that was that. “Two Feet” was actually the first song we wrote together. And then we wrote “Juice” like a week after or something. So it’s actually quite a special song for me because that was the first song we ever wrote. And I was really proud of it. And kind of knew it was special from when we started on it.
Is there a third song? Is there a fourth song with him? Are you sitting on a whole stack?
There’s like a million songs! It’s good. And all of them, I’m like, “Oh, this is really good. This is really good.” So I will send it to you, but I can’t send the world yet.
Yes, I would love that! And I mean, I’m not mad if you just release all of them, people won’t be like, “This is old now.”
Yeah, exactly. And if I believe in them, I feel like that’s enough.
Yeah, exactly. When you collaborate with someone like that, are you like, “Okay, this is the name of the track I’m thinking, just go forth with your lyrics,” or is it quite more like collaborative with those top lines? How does it work?
So that one, I was in the studio with Pell and he was taking the lead on it and I feel like he’s just so talented. He really can just do anything. And he kind of just goes for it, and what’s great about him is he’s got such diversity. It can be on trap stuff and it can be on my music which just kind of disco or whatever, like dance music. And then he can be on hip hop stuff and sing. And so he kind of just comes in with his own spin on it, which is cool. Sometimes I work with people and they just send me something and it’s done, which is great. But this particular one was us both and I kind of did one or two lyric ideas. And he was like, yeah. And my lyric ideas are crap, but there’s that little bit he can piece into his whole story, I guess.
Yeah. It’s like almost like a little homage to your input.
What are you listening to at the moment? Because your sound is definitely, I mean, it’s still holistically disco, but you’re now pulling in more of these like hip hop threads. Is that all something that, I don’t know, it’s an artist in your zeitgeist that you are drawing that from?
The thing I’ve been listening to lately is probably, I think just standard, stuff like in that, in the pop world. I just love Tyler [The Creator] and I love Steve Lacy. But I also love like Prince and to listen to a lot of his stuff. And even Mura Masa’s new stuff is really great and it’s like helped me dig deeper into a bit punk and trying to play a bit more instruments and work with people in different worlds.
So we’re going into a bit more of an experimental, throwing shit at the wall, seeing what happens. What’s next? What are we all working towards?
I just finished up the next one, which is exciting. I’ve never had a song in sort of rotation you like in just come out and then have the next one ready to go. So that’s really exciting. And so that next one’s done and, or at least getting mixed right now. So I’m really excited to have that ready to go once “Two Feet” has enough time to breathe. And then just tying up a bunch of other stuff, I’ve got like a bunch of demos I wrote in the last few months that I want to send out to people and see what happens.
Oh, that’s exciting. Okay, a lot more collabs. Hey, hit me up! No, I’m kidding, I’m joking…
Yeah, it’s not done without the Tait rap verse.
Yo, you don’t know it yet. All right. Final question, Joey. So I know you’ve been getting into a bit of the Nintendo Switch this year. What is your favourite track on Mario Kart 8?
Okay. So this might be controversial, but it’s the Haunted Mansion.
That’s really good. I mean, it’s pretty classic. I used to play on the Wii, and Rainbow Road would just kill you. Do they have Rainbow Road on the Switch?
Yeah, and it’s painful.
Anyone who would suggest that, we just can’t be friends.
Exactly. You know how like in bowling games, they have bars so you don’t like… I think we need bumpers Mario Kart.
That’s full-on cheating. Not allowing you in my game then.
Well, I just need I need those safety nets so that I don’t get too frustrated.
Man! Okay, Joey, thank you so much for chatting with me and congrats again on “Two Feet”. It’s wonderful!
“Two Feet” is out now. Stream Young Franco‘s single here.