Party Favor Talks Inspiration and Bad Style Choices

Dylan Ragland aka Party Favor is an LA producer moving from the trap world into another world entirely. His sound is versatile, but he always ensures that there is a lot of bass and a ton of fun associated with his shows. He’s currently on his Tuned Out Tour with new production and a slew of new music. We had a chance to chat with him at the Mid in Chicago before his set to talk about where he came from and what he has in store for the rest of the tour.

Sensible Reason: How’s the tour going so far?

Party Favor: Tour is awesome, it’s exhausting because we’re doing a lot of original production. We’re bringing in LED walls, full lighting, production, the facade, things we built, so it’s a very interesting experience so far.

SR: Every tour is different, is the production what makes it so special?

PF: For me, it’s so special as an artist who has been coming up for a long time to do a lot of shows that are very hard-ticket based. Tonight at the Mid, there might be people coming to the club because they simply want to go to the Mid. They might not know who Party Favor is, that’s just who is playing tonight. But, there are also my die-hard Chicago fans coming to check out the show. On the flip side, when I’m doing these full production shows the entire crowd is there for me, they are Party Favor fans. It’s so humbling to know they spent their hard-earned money for these hard tickets to come see me play and perform music, it’s awesome. To go from where I started to now, it’s pretty amazing.

SR: Tell me about the new stage you have. I picture Poltergeist when I see photos of it.

PF: The reason for the screens is that I’ve always loved the idea because of what I do with my music. I’ll do a lot of old song remixes or take a lot of elements of older music and I think that, for me, I like to bridge the old and new together a lot. The idea of the facade being these old TVs, which we handmade out of wood and plexiglass and fiber, they look like real TVs if you come up close. The idea is “Tuned Out” I want you to be tuned out from everything that’s going on in the world, all the constant negativity, the fighting, and politics, just to come in and enjoy music. The TVs mix the old with the new, I feel like everything so digital I’m taking it back to analog days.

SR: What brought you to create the type of music you create? 

PF: Oh gosh, I wish there was a formula. I just kinda kept throwing shit at a wall and watched what stuck. I went down a long path trying to make house music and I always seemed to click more with stuff that had a hip-hop element to it. So the “trap” side of EDM (I say it in quotations because the true trap is from Atlanta back in the early 2000’s) came more naturally to me. Once I stopped fighting what I thought I needed to make and made what I wanted to make.

SR: So what or who inspires you? Is it the Atlanta trap or bass itself? 

PF: I don’t know, I feel like it’s stuff that I want to move people. I love very simple melodies that are constant and get stuck in your head. I get inspiration from literally everything, and maybe that sounds cheesy to say but I take elements from classic rock, reggae dub, hip-hop music, EDM as well. I sit down and I make what I make and that’s what comes out.

SR: Coming from the trap/”twerk” music into more structured songs like “Caskets” and such, what do you have in store for tonight?

PF: I never try to plan my sets too hard. Every time I’m in a new city it’s a new crowd, new feel, new experiences, everyone comes from different backgrounds…I can play more hyphy music in the Bay, or different music in Chicago I wouldn’t play somewhere else. But tonight you can expect a lot of my music, a lot of new music you’ve never heard before. One of my favorite things to do is play stuff and not tell anyone it’s mine and see what their reaction is. If their reaction is good without knowing it’s mine then I know it’s worth continuing to play. I’m introducing more songs now, I’m getting more comfortable as an artist being able to put out more songs like “Caskets” that has lyrics and a melody and meaning to the song.

SR: Tell me about your journey from Utah to Cali.

PF: It’s part of where I grew up and it was a great place to live, it was fun and I moved out to California to pursue my dream of working in the film industry and it took off from there. I fell in love with dance music, totally enveloped in it freshman year of college, there were no festivals, but Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak parties were big. EDC was going on but it was one stage and one day.

SR: What year was that?

PF: End of 2007, 2008?

SR: There has been such a boom since those days. When I started hula hooping Electric Forest didn’t even exist. Now there’s Holy Ship, Dancefestopia… 

PF: It’s really insane, it’s cool that dance music reaches so many different people, even yourself who is a hooper. You’ve got Kandi Kidz, you’ve got trap kids, you’ve got the hyphy crew, bottle service people, everyone melds in a weird way and not every genre works like that it’s kinda cool.

SR: What’s your favorite genre of fan? 

PF: I love everybody.

SR: Park City is a huge ski and snowboard town, do you ski? 

PF: When I was younger, yeah, I was a little grom, that’s what they call someone who is out skiing or snowboarding all day every day, living on the mountain. Back in the early 2000’s and late 90’s rolling blading was still a thing, so I would rollerblade too. The only reason I don’t anymore, I love the snow and I would love to do it more, but I would be worried about what I’d do to myself. I like to send it and jump and do a lot of stuff, so I know I would hurt myself now that I’m getting old. I’m trying to keep my career going.

SR: Do you go back to Park City at all?

PF: I haven’t been back to Park City in a while beside to play. I have a small amount of family there and last time I was there was 4 or 5 years ago.

SR: So you wanted to work in the film industry, and you’re not working in the film industry…

PF: I did work in the film industry.

SR: What did you do?

PF: I was mostly an editor, but I’ve done everything. I’ve gaffed, I’ve gripped, I ran and got fucking coffee.

SR: But you wanted to be what?

PF: When I was in college I wanted to be an editor, I would take footage and turn it into the finished project.

SR: Do you plan on pursuing it more?

PF: I would love for the music to keep going because it never feels like work for me. Editing was always fun, but whenever you have to deal with the corporate side of things it’s a job and you have to do things in a certain way and have deadlines and it started to feel more like a job. To me, this doesn’t feel like a job. I take it seriously but it’s not like I wake up every day thinking “ugh, I have to go to work.”

SR: What do you love most about the music industry in comparison to the film industry?

PF: I think they’re both really cool in their own right, obviously, they’re intertwined in a weird way. They both deal in entertaining people out of their normal daily lives to see something bigger. Some of my most fond moments that I remember are things that I’ve watched or listened to. You make a lot of memories watching a film or going to a show or whatever you get invested in and I think that even more so than that, you make the most memories when you’re with music. Music impacts everyone, it can be any type of genre, but everyone has a positive vibe with music.

SR: If you ever meet someone who doesn’t like music, don’t trust them. You said you test out new music while you’re touring, do you have anything new coming out? 

PF: I just put out a song with Bad Royale that I’ve been teasing for forever called “Bury,” that we put out a couple weeks ago. I’ve produced for Lil Wayne offset 2Chainz which is a cool blend of our worlds, it’s a hip-hop record with krunk roots and my tour manager loves it. I’ve got an EP coming out in February and a secret collab project with someone else coming out in April or May of next year. So, yeah, EPs, remixes and hopefully producing for other people in the pop world. Just trying to stay busy and spread my wings all over. I’m trying to become a better producer every day with different elements.

SR: Last question: What was your worst fashion phase?

PF: In middle school and a little bit of high school, it was the preppy thing with the popped collars. I never did the double popped collars. Now, everyone wants to wear Supreme, back then it was Polo and Abercrombie & Fitch, Ralph Lauren, it’s funny looking back on that. I think overall in terms of our history the 90’s were the worst.

Don’t miss Party Favor on the rest of his Tuned Out Tour. Dates below.

Ashley Cizek

Went to school at UW-Madison, graduating with a BA in psychology. I hula-hoop, I write, I enjoy sunlight.

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