If you’re a music fan in this day and age, it’s a pretty amazing time to be alive. There’s amazing content coming out literally every day. Having said that, the flipside is that with so much being released so often – it’s actually difficult to keep up with all the quality that’s out there. Fortunately Captain Franco, our friend and one third of Sydney institution Halfway Crooks, has taken it upon himself to be our musical guide for the year. Each month Franco will be serving us up a steaming hot mixtape, compiled from his personal pick of tracks released in the previous four weeks. We kick this whole thing off next week, so in the interim – get to know that the man behind the mixtapes.
Hey mate, can you introduce yourself for us?
Captain Franco. DJ, all round music dude and 1/3 of Halfway Crooks.
How’d you get a start in DJing?
When I was around 15 years old I spent all the money I got for my Bar Mitzvah (to my parent’s dismay) on a pair of Technic’s 1200’s and a mixer. For the first few years I was basically a bedroom DJ, purchasing a truckload of vinyl to make mixtapes for my friends. I played a few house parties and club gigs, but wasn’t until I moved to London in 2001 that I really started to take it seriously. Since then I’ve been pretty fortunate to play everything from festivals, touring artist supports, fashion parties, brand launches, a thousand or so club gigs and the list goes on. In between all that, five years ago my friends Levins, Elston and I started Halfway Crooks, a Rap party that has since become a bit of a Sydney institution.
Were things a little simpler back when you got started?
Simpler, but not necessarily better… On one hand there were far less DJ’s to compete with, but on the other hand I used to carry around two crates worth of back breaking vinyl to every gig. It’s also much easier to get noticed now with social media (not even Myspace was around when I started), which is awesome for up-and-coming DJs/artists.
With the constant flood of new releases, and platforms like Soundcloud and Bandcamp becoming dominant platforms for distribution, how do you keep up with all the new music that’s floating around?
It’s pretty tough to be honest; the output these days is immense. I have a bunch of Rap/R&B blogs which I check daily, Soundcloud etc – and of course my crew of music friends who are constantly introducing me to new artists.
What’s motivating you to undertake this monthly mix series?
The idea came from all those ‘best of’ lists that pop up online at the end of each year. I always get asked what my favourite songs of the year are, so thought rather that trolling back through thousands of tracks in December to compile a list I’d do the leg-work up front and filter through a lot of the crap and make a mixtape of my favourite tracks that come out each month. Then release it just after the month finishes like a retrospective of the month just past.
Given all this craziness that’s going on with Sydney night life laws this seems like a prescient time to be talking about music, can you give us a run down on what’s happening over there?
Well, the NSW Premier has proposed new laws that will include a 1.30am lock out (meaning clubs and bars won’t let in new customers past 1.30am) and no drinks to be served after 3am. The proposed laws unfortunately come as a knee-jerk reaction to a couple of very sad and horrific acts of violence (which shouldn’t be condoned at all), but the media turned it into a frenzy essentially forcing the Premier’s hand to put forward these drastic measures.
What kind of impact do you think this is going to have on the city’s club scene?
From a financial standpoint alone, a lot of venues that focus on a great music policy and giving their clientele a safe place to party are going to lose a huge amount of their late night trade. This can only result in loss of jobs and less investment in music events. But even more importantly, the safety issue. Partygoers who may have already been drinking not being able to get into clubs past 1.30am will result in herds wandering the streets aimlessly into the early morning… and you don’t have to be a genius to see the problems this could cause.
What’s coming up for you in the immediate future?
Besides working on this solo mixtape project, Halfway Crooks is turning five this year and we’ve got some really exciting surprises planned. We’ll also be supporting A$AP Ferg and Devin The Dude on the Sydney shows of their upcoming tours, and loads more in the pipeline!
Keep an eye out for Captain Franco’s monthly mix series – launching next week.
Photos by Michael Naumoff.