Subconsciously Searching for That Feeling: Francois Dillinger on New Concept Album, Detroit Scene

Francois Dillinger live @ Missing Faces Detroit Art Installation, Andy Art Center (Detroit, USA) © Kassie Hyde

Detroit-based Electro artist Francois Dillinger, author of some of the most sought after tunes in the scene at the moment, is in his own right, a bit of a trailblazer of sorts. Crafting a very unique style that seems to take the best elements of hard music; whether it be Industrial, Metal, or just straight up dark eerie Electro, and fusing these with some of the more profound aspects of Science Fiction, the results are a sound that is as much familiar to long-time followers of Electro, as it is a breath of fresh air.

As one of the most distinctive artists to come forth out of the highly prolific (and historic) Detroit scene, Francois Dillinger has already proliferated his uncanny approach to many labels around the world, everyone from Electronic Leatherette, to Crobot Muzik, iK7, Dionysian Mysteries, and most recently Specimen Records out of the UK, have been pumping out his massive tunes over the past couple of years with no sign of slowing down.

In this interview with Electric Kingdom, Francois Dillinger discusses his new vinyl album MINDFRAME: Cycles, not to mention the wild transhumanist concepts behind it all, as well as his experience honing his skills in the Detroit area, and how that has in turn shaped his sound as one of the most popular Electro artists currently around.

Electric Kingdom: Let's talk about your new album first, "MINDFRAME: Cycles", recently published on Specimen Records. This seems to be perhaps your best work yet, and one with a really interesting concept; especially given the times we are in, and the push for Transhumanism everywhere that we are seeing, primarily by entities like the World Economic Forum.

Talk a little about the inspiration for the new record. Are you an advocate of Transhumanist ideas perhaps? Any musical influences that affected the end result of the sound?

Francois Dillinger: The album is certainly an evolution, and speaks to where I was at the time of writing it. I’m always inspired by ideas exploring the inflection points of humanity and time - everything from ancient civilizations and spiritual technologies, to ideas that explore the convergence of machines with human consciousness and biology.

In the case of MINDFRAME, I took a fascination with what the world might look like if we came out on the other side of widely adopted integrations of artificial intelligence. It entertains the outcomes from centuries of human enhancements, giving way to weaponized methods of behavioral control. I wrote the album from within the view of a future revolutionary who began a battle to regain the power of human consciousness.

My most listened to music in 2019 and 2020 was Hans Zimmer. I think that explains where my soul was in those two very challenging years. I’d listen to Hans Zimmer on repeat while I worked my 9-5. Combine that with the fact that when I’m not listening to electronic music I’m flirting with Dark Trap, Classic Hip-Hop, Jazz, DnB, Ambient, Folk, and whatever else gets me out of my head, and into album writing. Ultimately, I wanted to go somewhere with this album, even if I was the only one going. When I put this record on, I can still travel to that place.

Very interesting, you have some very complex ideas and concepts about your music, and perhaps a lot of that comes from your eclectic taste in music in general. Seems you are influenced by far more than what people would think!

So it sounds like you were driven to Electro in particular by its dark Sci-Fi aesthetics. Who are some key influences for you, and when did your journey in Electro begin? What do you consider special about the sound?

I just love Sci-Fi and something about Electro has, and always will, sound futuristic to me. It’s an interesting concept to play into as a producer, and can (for me at least) bring up all sorts of crazy interplanetary/alien/technology scenarios to write music about.

I started DJ’ing in 2000. Back then I was really driven by the Baron himself – Dave Clarke. I found the idea of toggling between Techno and Electro very appealing, but leaned most heavily into the sounds of Electro and Breaks. Being involved in what was happening musically in Detroit took me into the hands of Drexciya, Aux88, Ectomorph and others for inspiration. I was collecting records as fast as I could back then, and found myself spending all sorts of money I didn’t have. That said, the shop owner shared a love for Electro and would get records specifically for me in the early days. I owe my love of digging to that guy, my curiosity for the sound really grew during those years!

What has always remained special to me about it is that Electro has been immune to external forces and trends within electronic music. It’s largely remained unchanged in ethos and aesthetic over the 20+ years I’ve come to love it. There are core members of the sound that are still present, active, and thriving within the greater Electro community.

The fact that all these legendary titans of the sound are still inspired by it, and keep making music, says something to me about the state of it versus other sounds. Combine that with a whole new generation of producers coming into the genre fresh, taking cues from the Electro handbook, but delivering something that sounds like what the future’s future might.

Francois Dillinger - MINDFRAME: Cycles (2021) © Specimen Records