For November's Butter & Beats feature we are introducing Captain Franco, one of the most in-demand DJ’s in Sydney. A master music selector across Hip Hop to Reggae, Soul to RnB and Dancehall to Funk, Franco hypes crowds like no other. He's a favourite amongst the festival circuit, clubs and parties across Australia and beyond.
Not trying to be a name dropper, but Franco has supported a pretty impressive list of international touring artists in Australia that have included Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, Childish Gambino, Rae Sremmurd, Joey Bada$$, A$AP Ferg, Danny Brown, Freddie Gibbs and more that'd make any rap fan jealous.
Franco also co-founded Halfway Crooks, Sydney's longest running monthly rap party that's been held at various locations, and become somewhat of an institution in the Australian nightlife scene locally and nationwide.
We sat down to interview the man himself about how it all started and where his journey began.
You are the co-founder of Halfway Crooks. Could you tell me how it was formed and why you think it's become such an institution?
Halfway Crooks was founded in 2009 by DJ Levins, Elston and myself. We were all DJing random parties around Sydney, but the hip hop club scene was generally run by a few promoters who only focused on the 90's / early 00's throwback sounds (à la Biggie, Dr Dre etc). At the same time we were becoming obsessed with a wider variety of newer rap and wanted to do something new, so joined forces to kick off Halfway Crooks. Early on we still played a lot of older tunes, but throwing in the new Southern and Mid-West rap exploding the US at that time, which no one was really doing in Australia yet. Championing new and exciting rap has pretty much been our DNA ever since. It's crazy to think that almost 9 years later we're still going strong, the only thing I can put it down to is consistency. The crowd may have changed over the years, but the quality of the party hasn't and word of mouth is always the best advertising.
You've opened the stage for quite a few renowned artists. Do you have any particularly memorable moments?
Supporting D'Angelo at the Opera House in 2016 was an incredible moment for me. Originally I was asked to play a 30 minute opening set for him, but thankfully prepped a much longer set, because I ended up playing for almost two ours! People still stop me from time to time to tell me there were there and loved the set, which is very humbling :)
How do you think the music landscape in Australia has changed over the past few years, having being active in the scene for over half a decade?
The explosion of Rap and R&B on mainstream Australia has been pretty amazing to watch. Now some of the music we play at Crooks you could hear on Nova, which totally blows me away. Also the new generation of local rappers are doing great things and the world is taking notice. I truly believe it won't be long before people are looking at our scene in the way that how Grime has blown up outside of the UK over the last few years.
What was your first encounter with music that made you decide to pursue a career in it?
It was probably my first time playing a music festival. It was such a rush and I just thought somehow, someway, I wanted my life to revolve around music forever 5. What would you say is the most misconceived thought people have about DJing or Djs. That it's easy anyone can DJ... not true!
There's so many DJs and music selectors out there, what do you think sets them apart from each other and what's best advice for those just starting out?
Like any job, learn your trade. Unfortunatey a lot of kids now think they can buy a USB, fill it with the 50 biggest hits and be a headliner. Do the support slots, research the music and be willing to learn. Big opportunities will come, they might just not happen overnight!
Can you remember the moment your love for hip hop started?
Honestly I think it was hearing Kris Koss or MC Hammer as a little kid lol. I didn't really understand it ,but thought it was so interesting and wanted to know everything about this culture, which I still obsess over.
What's your favourite all time favourite album that you could listen to on repeat?
Mobb Deep's 'The Infamous' album. It was basically the soundtrack to my youth as a skater. Still play it regularly and it's really aged like a fine wine.
Describe Captain Franco in 3 words.
Damn, that's hard. Let's go with 'party rap dad' ha!