Captain Franco may not think of himself as one of the forerunners of the modern Australian DJ scene, but with slews of 30 minute+ mixes under his belt and a haul of memories from the vinyl-schlepping pre-MySpace music days, it’s hard to think of what other status he’s earned at this point. Franco has just concluded his epic year-long quest to bring us month-by-month mixes of the best (and his favourite) hip-hop and R&B releases, each one carrying distinct themes and the kind of coherent progression that only a versed platter lord can wrangle. We thought it would only be fitting to catch up with the fatigued Halfway Crooks member on the challenges, joys and highlights of our collaboration and to discuss his plans for 2015.
How did the monthly mixtape idea come about and what attracted you to the idea partnering with ACCLAIM?
Towards the end of 2013 I started seeing various ‘best Rap of 2013’ lists popping up online which had forgotten so many crucial songs from earlier in the year. I started thinking it would be very cool to catalogue all my favourite songs from 2014 so that at the end of the year I could put up an accurate list and while brainstorming the best way to do this the idea of a monthly mixtape using these songs came to me. I’ve always been a fan of how ACCLAIM Mag supports the culture locally and reached out to the team (through mutual friends). They loved the idea and we got to work immediately!
What are the difficulties you face in having to curate mixes based on the month of their release rather than tempo, similarity or key?
As soon as I started the project I came to the realization that each month could be a complete mish-mash of tracks, so tricky curating the mixes to not sound dated past the month they were put out. Luckily most Hip Hop & RnB I enjoy is based on two tempo ranges – 60 to 75bpm for the heavy Southern sounding beats / syrupy RnB and then around 97 to 102 bpm for the DJ Mustard sounding LA bangers. Anything outside of these I’d have to get creative with effects so there wasn’t huge jumps in tempo.
Listening back to the January mix, it seems much sparser compared to how tight and fluid the final December mix is. Did you find yourself learning and trialling new things with this project as the months went on?
Totally. In the beginning I was flying pretty blind to be honest. After stressing to get the first few mixes in on time, I found myself organising tracklists into bpms throughout the month, working out an opening track earlier so I could build the skeleton structure of the tape in iTunes before starting to mix it.
How long does it take you to make a monthly mix? Can you break down how much time and effort each step takes?
Well, for starters I’d literally have to trawl the internet daily, listening to pretty much EVERYTHING that dropped. Some days 2-3 mixtapes, an album and a dozen of singles would drop… So quite time consuming but I’m pretty OCD and didn’t want to miss any gems. Every few days I’d put my favourites into a monthly iTunes playlist and organise by bpm so I could get an idea of structure. Then, at the end of every month I’d spend about two days mixing it, upload it and release to the world. It was like a part time job haha.
How well do you get to know a track before incorporating it into a mix?
Sometimes tracks would drop the day I was putting the mix together so not that long, but I’d just hear something I loved and take a gamble on it. For the most part I’m happy with almost every track that made the mixes – however there are a few I’d replace in retrospect.
Were there any songs you missed and regret not putting on any of the mixes?
Not so much missed, but there were some tunes which just didn’t fit the vibe of the month they came out that ended up either becoming songs I loved over time, huge hits or too old for me to include down the line. Most notably Rae Sremmurd’s No Flex Zone and Young Thug & Rich Homie Quan’s Lifestyle. Two of my favourite tracks of the year and neither made a mixtape :'(
What was your favourite rap track of 2014?
Definitely, without a doubt, T.I.’s About The Money featuring Young Thug (featured on the MAY mixtape).
What were some of the highlights in doing the mixes?
Not really one specific highlight, but the love they received from all over the world was overwhelming. A few big blogs picked up on them and started posting early on in the series which drove the plays to numbers I never imagined they would get. Very humbled by all the feedback.
Would you ever commit to another project with a similar theme and/or schedule?
Probably not. I only ever planned on doing it for 12 months and while it was an awesome project the schedule and timelines became super difficult to juggle.
What’s next for the lord Captain Franco?
As usual DJing heaps, plus Halfway Crooks (the party I run with DJ Levins) is turning 6 this year so we are planning a lot of big events to celebrate. I’ve been toying with production a recently, so would love to actually create some music this year. Also, I’ve started managing a local rapper called B Wise from Sydney’s South-West, so focusing on helping him achieve his career goals… So a lot really. Even without the mixtapes I’ve always got a million little projects on the go!
Check out our interview Captain Franco from before the monthly mix project commenced here and make sure you check him out on –