Behind The Beat | Brazzabelle on Mentorship, Memes, and “Blowing Up Overnight”
Here at Only The Beat, we love discovering artists who truly are the future of electronic dance music. So when we were given the opportunity to sit down with Los Angeles-based producer Brazzabelle, we were ecstatic. Brittney Bowles, better known by her stage name Brazzabelle, is talented, driven, energetic, and has a killer style to boot!
For most girls, Brazz is that girl that you’d love to chill with (and raid her closet!). For most guys, Brazz is that girl you wish you could get a date with. And I think everyone male and female alike who has seen Brazzabelle live would agree that she’s the real deal: energetic, fun and a master at making crowds go nuts.
So sit back, relax, and let Brazzabelle’s newest #RAVERCISE mix get you pumped up as you learn about everything from Brazz’s favorite memes to advice for producers from this EDM powerweight.
OTB: If you could choose one mentor to serve as a mentor for you, who would you choose?
Brazzabelle: That’s a good question. I have been mentored by a lot of musicians already- Congorock has been a great mentor to me, he has a really diverse musical background. He’s been in a rock band and has done everything from EDM to pop music, so he’s been a really huge help. Also, Martin Solveig has been a huge help to me, from everything from music to overall branding, to taking me on tours with him. I’m just thankful for all the help I’ve gotten.
OTB: What’s on your rider? Do you have any special pre-show rituals that you like to do?
Brazzabelle: On my tech rider is just three CDJs and a mixer and microphone. My hospitality rider is a bottle of Don Julio, champagne, and coconut water. I don’t really have any pre-show rituals. I try to have one drink of tequila because it calms the nerves a bit.
OTB: What inspired you to remix “What is Love?”?
Brazzabelle: “Night at the Roxbury” is my favorite movie of all time, I love it so much. I had the soundtrack when the movie came out and I love all the songs on it and so I was like ‘I would remix this whole thing if I had time,’ so I kind of just asked my fans which song they liked the best, they wanted me to remix, and so that was the one! It turned out awesome, I was really happy with it.
OTB: Yeah, it ended up really cool! When I first saw it and clicked the link, I was like “What is this going to sound like?” and I was pleasantly surprised, I was like “Okay, this works!”
Brazzabelle: Yeah, it was a little hard to make it different because it was already a dance song and you kind of had to keep the old organ sounds, the 90’s sounds- but make it bigger. It was a challenge but it was cool.
OTB: You have an awesome fashion style. Do you have any advice for fashionistas who are attempting to break out from the average everyday?
Brazzabelle: Yeah, people always tell me “I love your outfit but I could never wear that,” and my question is always “Why?” because the only one keeping you back is yourself. I think it’s all about owning your outfit. I mean, I’m lucky because I get to be on stage and dress like an asshole whenever I want and sort of look like a show pony, but I used to work at Betsey Johnson and we had to wear those prom dresses to work every day, and so after work I’d to go to the grocery store in it. People were probably like “Okay, I’d wear that to prom and you’re wearing it going grocery shopping?” you know? [laughs] It’s really all about owning your outfit and I think that that’s the most important thing. If you want to do something, just go for it. That’s how most fashion trends start anyways, you just do it and people copy you. You don’t have to be like fitting the mold exactly.
OTB: At what point did DJing go from being a hobby to a profession to you? I read in a previous interview that it was really overwhelming- you were trying to produce at night while still having a day job- what was the point where you just decided to go for it?
Brazzabelle: I’ve always been a really big fan of having a hobby in my life, so that was kind of my hobby at the time because I had transferred universities and snowboarding was my hobby, but I couldn’t do it in Arizona anymore so that kind of became my hobby. I’m really competitive, so I want to be the best at everything, so I kind of got more competitive with it and I wanted to be the best and it got to the point where I was getting a lot of gigs and I got picked up by AM Only, and that was my kind of turning point. I thought “Okay, this is a real thing now, I actually have an agent so I have secured work,” and so that was the time that I was like “Okay, I’m going to quit and commit myself full-time to production and try it out. It was kind of like, you’re not getting any younger so you don’t want to be like 50 and be like “Oh, I should have done that.”
OTB: Was it a little bit scary, or did you think it was kind of meant to be when you got an agent?
Brazzabelle: Oh, it was totally scary. Even though I have an agent, I’ve seen a lot of my friends who had agents who still weren’t making enough money to get by for the first year. It’s still a battle every day- you have to be working your hardest and almost working harder than a full-time job. It was really scary especially because my day job was my other dream job- I was working in fashion and I loved it. It was a big risk but now I’m really happy with it and I wake up every morning and I can’t really believe what I’m doing or how I got here.
OTB: I saw you at OMFG LA and I thought you were great at getting everyone moving and really into what was going on. What do you do if no one is dancing? How do you motivate the crowd when you’re staring out into a bunch of people just standing there and staring?
Brazzabelle: You just cry. [Laughs] No, I mean it’s really tough. I actually played the Consumer Electronics Show, and it was a private party so it was 90 percent men in suits, and not even like young men. So, that was really tough- I literally played everything from house to hip hop to pop to deep house to like indie electronica. Literally nothing was working, and you just kind of have to shake it off and realize that you’re fine. It’s nerve wracking. When no one is dancing, it’s like being naked and giving a speech in front of class or something and forgetting the words- I don’t even know, it’s awkward. Every show is kind of like a test. When I play new tracks you find out what works and what doesn’t and what makes people dance and your goal is to make people dance so I just try to make sure they’re dancing all the time and I think every show I get better at it. Each crowd is different, too, so it’s really a learning experience.
OTB: Do you have a favorite meme?
Brazzabelle: I love memes so much. 10 Guy is my favorite meme of all time. He makes me laugh all the time. I also like the old woman who just has “WAT,” she cracks me up and I respond to all my friends’ comments like that. I also really like Rape Sloth. One of my friends loves Rape Sloth and I almost got him an iPhone case with that. Sloths are my favorite animals and I think they’re so cute and innocent and so when I saw this it was hilarious.
OTB: What’s your favorite venue or festival that you’ve played? If you could play anywhere, where would your dream gig be?
Brazzabelle: That’s really tough. I’m really fortunate in that I’ve played a lot of really good shows and festivals. My agent has done a really good job placing me and not having dead crowds. HARD festival was really exciting for me because I got added last-minute because an artist dropped out. It was my first real festival and I didn’t think that anyone was going to be there but it was packed and it was the biggest shock. That one sticks in my memory a lot. All the LED festivals down here have been amazing. EDC Puerto Rico and Electric Zoo were amazing.
OTB: What is your favorite holiday and why?
Brazzabelle: I like Halloween and I like Christmas as well. I like Halloween because I like dressing up in general so any excuse to dress up is really fun. Christmas is just awesome because you get presents and eat a lot and drink a lot.
OTB: What are the biggest challenges of being a woman in the EDM industry? Do you have a particular scenario you’ve experienced that you think would have been different had you been a male DJ?
Brazzabelle: It’s easier to get started as a female, because clubs will book you if you’re a female. If you’re at the same skill level as a male DJ, clubs will book you instead because people want to see a female DJ. But then you get to a certain point where record labels don’t care if you’re a male or a female, they just want you to sell tracks. So what happens to a lot of females is you get up to a certain point and you have been privileged to have been given things, and then all of the sudden you get to this point where it’s halted and you really have to work harder to prove yourself. Whenever I send people tracks still, I feel like I still get that prejudice. Even for signing with management companies, before they listened to my tracks they say they want me to have a ghost writer, which is really frustrating because you want someone who believes in your music. But really, overall, it’s not that much different. I think there’s no physical advantage for a male or female to be a DJ – it doesn’t help you to be taller or stronger – really there’s not that much of a difference but you have to prove yourself a little bit more as a female. But then once you do, it gets easier.
OTB: If you could tell 14-year old Brazz anything, what would you tell her?
Brazzabelle: Well, she didn’t really exist then, but she wouldn’t even believe where I am now. 14-year old Brazz, my high school sweetheart of mine showed me production and we would both make songs and be like “your song sucks, mine is better,” and it was like the simplest program ever, anyone could make a decent song on it. If I told myself I would be doing this today I wouldn’t believe it in a million years. I guess I would have told her to stick with it, but it worked out.
OTB: Do you have any advice for aspiring producers?
Brazzabelle: I try to help out as many people as I can because I’ve gotten so much help. The biggest thing I’ve noticed through my process is that a lot of people think that you blow up overnight. I saw a quote once that said “blowing up overnight takes five years,” and it’s true. I’ve been doing this for five, almost six years, and I’m still a little guy. Only now am I starting to take off, and I think a lot of people expect to make a track and all of the sudden be huge, and I think people need to realize it’s a commitment and you have to be in it for the long haul. Just put in the work, be unique and make stuff that is different and stands out.
OTB: If you were a Spice Girl, which one would you be?
Brazzabelle: I feel like I was just born a little late, like I was supposed to be their DJ, like DJ Spice.
OTB: Some of your mash ups seem really random, where did you get the idea for putting two songs together?
Brazzabelle: I have my whole library keyed out, so you want them to be in the same key or neighboring key to make a mashup. In my iTunes, I have a folder of acapellas, so I’ll go to the key of the song I want to make the mashup of, and find an acapella and another track. And maybe one song I’ll really like the breakdown of it, and another song I really like the drop, so if they’re in the same key I’ll just put those together. I know that some breakdowns will just kill the dancefloor so I’ll just take that part out and replace it with something else.
OTB: How do you get your hair so perfect? It looks great all the time!
Brazzabelle: Thank you! I just put my hair in a ponytail – I try to brush it so I get the bumps out, and tie it in a tight pony and wrap the hair around it. You have to flat iron it before. When I played at Hogan’s Beach, it was super embarrassing, my ponytail had fallen because I was jumping so much. It was this half-ass pony and you could see if in pictures and it’s just like this sad, limp ponytail. I used to be a hair model when I first started DJing so I had short hair and they would change the color all the time so no one would ever recognize me. It was really bad for branding, so I decided that I was going to wear my hair like this every time I’m Brazzabelle. It actually works, every time I’m in LA with my hair down, no one recognizes me, but now they’re starting to so I can’t hide anymore! [Laughs] It’s just kind of an image thing, it’s good to keep it consistent so people know. Especially when you’re a girl DJ, everyone thinks that if you’re a brunette you’re just the girl DJ brunette. I used to have straight across bangs, so everyone thought I was Audrey Napoleon. I actually really like bangs but I could never do it, it just doesn’t work with my hair.
Be sure to check out Brazzabelle’s newest release, “Borena,” which is a FREE DOWNLOAD!
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