Young Franco: “I think my first love was hip-hop”

young franco

It’s always so inspiring to see our Aussie artists work their way from our local stages into the international big leagues. Although we have such a rich music culture within our borders, seeing our musicians gain international recognition for their talents really hits home. Young Franco is one of those artists, for us.

From Brisbane to LA, the artist (a.k.a. Joey Da Rin) has been delivering nothing but banging tunes every step of the way. Fresh off the release of his collaboration singles with LA’s Pell, we were lucky enough to catch up with Joey to chat through the process and his music.

young franco

HAPPY: Joey, congratulations on your recent releases Two Feet and Juice: both of which feature collaborator Pell. You’re from Brisbane, he’s originally from New Orleans and moved to Louisiana. Can you tell me how you guys met?

JOEY: I hit him up on the internet and I’m pretty sure his label Ultra Records was like, “oh, we can get you in the room,” and then we just met and sort of met in LA. He’s actually living in LA and met, and just wrote three songs over two days. 

HAPPY: You were spending a bit of time between Sydney and LA before COVID happened right?

JOEY: Yeah.

HAPPY: I’m assuming you were on a collaborative writing trip and this particular relationship there were sparks, I’m assuming?

JOEY: Yeah, I was doing a bunch of shows in the States and it was actually my first round of shows. It was just this amazing whirlwind trip. I went to New York for the first time, which is just incredible, and then I managed to get back there two or three times that trip, then had some amazing experiences in LA, had a stop in Portland, which was fantastic… just had this amazing trip. And on top of that, got to write some songs with some amazing people. It was fantastic. And basically, Juice and Two Feet came out. 

HAPPY: Amazing. In the video for Juice, you can see that there is a real dynamic between you two, especially when you almost get beaten up by those two juice boxes. I loved the video clip. What was it like to shoot that?

JOEY: Well, it was in LA and it was in an area of LA called Highland Park. LA can be a very tough city when you first go in, but if you find pockets of what you like, you can find these beautiful communities and that’s what this area is. You find creatives who are like-minded and what’s great about that city is that you can literally, within a day, find 10 people; cast members, directors, director of photography, and it was just an amazing spot to do a video. He brings such good energy to everything. Very, very blessed to know Pell.

HAPPY: You two both bring an amazing energy to that video actually. I’ve heard that you’re a bit of a fan of the Beastie Boys and Pell’s flow is reminiscent of Q-Tip. I don’t know if you agree with me, but take me through your influences and where you guys bond over your influences?

JOEY: I don’t think we’ve ever really decided we should write a song like this, it kind of just ends up happening. I think with him, I don’t want to speak for him but New Orleans has such an amazing jazz-rich history. Jazz and hip-hop, and all that stuff.  I think there’s so many amazing musicians from New Orleans, and I think that’s what he brings to it. He has so much diversity in his style. He does Trap stuff and more singing stuff. I think the stuff we’ve done is a bit more dancey and we just draw influences from everywhere and it’s just pulling from different spots and connecting the dots. I love people like him and Dana because they take it in a direction I would never have thought of.

HAPPY: This is Dana Williams, is that right?

JOEY: Yeah, Dana Williams. They take it in directions I don’t think I could ever do. 

HAPPY: It’s interesting those choices of collaboration, I think that collaborating does bring more scope to the music. You have three composers in the room, it becomes more three dimensional. You mentioned that he pulls on lots of different musical influences, as do you. You’re quite eclectic. You started off sounding quite disco and you’ve taken a natural progression into hip-hop, which is historically what happened as well. Can you tell us a little bit about that progression?

JOEY: I think my first love was actually more on the side of hip-hop and that was more what I gravitated towards. I just wanted to sample records and make hip-hop. I was going to record stores in Brisbane and annoying the record store people. As I got older, I started working and playing in venues. That’s where I got introduced to house music and dance music, and how important it is. It has such a rich culture just like hip-hop, it’s nice to find the middle ground of those worlds I guess. 

young franco

HAPPY: Absolutely. I’m a big fan of Brisbane artists. Take me through where you were in Brisbane. Where did you grow up in Brisbane and who are your musical peers in Brisbane?

JOEY: I grew up in an area called New Farm, which is right next to the Valley. I would do the 3 am graveyard set and then walk home. That was actually really great, because there was this great student lifestyle. I would just be Uni and writing music throughout the week. It’s just fantastic, that’s kind of how I met UV Boys, who’s also from Brisbane. He is a very close friend of Mallrat and Golden Vessel. And then there’s the OG people: there’s a guy called DJ Butcher, who is a local Brisbane dude and has done some amazing stuff, there’s a guy called Tom Fun who’s a beatboxer. Then the new contemporary stuff is Last Dinosaurs are great, The Jungle Giants are great, Wafia is fantastic. There’s just so much music, there’s so much good music.

HAPPY: I feel like Brisbane’s got this incredible culture for sharing. 

JOEY: Totally and also, each person is so unique. They’re just doing what they want to do. I think I grew up in such a great company, there was a really great period of these bands including Cub Sport who all cut their teeth in these Brisbane venues. We’d all do the supports for the respective tier above us and, if there was a tour, we’d do the Alahambra Lounge and stuff like that. There was such a great platform for emerging artists. There’s all these staples in the Brisbane venue scene, that you can kind of tick off the box. I love Brisbane.

HAPPY: Your visual style is very coherent, I just wanted to get inside how that came about?

JOEY: How it works is I’ll talk to my record label, the US management team and it’ll be two or three months out from release. They’ll be like, “do you have any good ideas?” I’ll be like, “I got nothing.” Basically, the closer to the due date, I’ll just be listening to the song and going for a walk, or see something I really like and go, “okay, I’ve got it.”  And it’s done. Then we action it from there. Obviously, the timeline makes it really tight but I kind of like that because, when there’s a sense of urgency and a sense of pulling stuff together, I think the process of me just sitting on it and the idea will come at the right time.

HAPPY: Tell me a little bit about what your plans are moving forward into the future?

JOEY: Actually just finishing a new song and I’m going to go to my friend George who mixes my stuff. I’m going to his studio now and I’m going to work on the next song, which is really exciting because I’ve never really had a song in cycle, getting released and the next one ready to go. I’m very lucky in that situation that I can be on the cusp of finishing this next one and then I can free up this time to work on new stuff. I’ve been getting vocals in from different people and it’s been really great to actually be able to go. I’ve got this one in the bag and then here’s the next one and then the next one, the next one. Whenever touring opens up again, I’d love to be doing my own ticketed run and do a Europe tour and a US tour. I guess it’s just waiting to see when things open up, but the good thing is I feel like Australia is in a very lucky position. Hopefully, we will see the benefits back in the near future.

HAPPY: So, you’re trying to be as prolific as possible?

JOEY: Yeah, and I think that’s all you can do now is just write and finish music and then try and get it out. Hopefully, all this COVID stuff passes and we get to a state of normality. We can pick up where we left off I guess. Hopefully in a better position.

HAPPY: Thank you for joining me Joey.

JOEY: Thanks Nic.


Grab your copies of Two Feet and Juice here
Photos by Gracie Steindl 
Movement Direction by Alice Robinson