Twenty-four years old and already performing at majors festivals, organizing his own, contributing to film soundtracks, and collaborating with some of the biggest names in the industry, Haitian producer Michael Brun has already amassed a pretty incredible resume. But the best part about all of his success is how he remains incredibly grateful, humble, and only driven to do more.
In honor of his his newest release "U," Michael spent some time answering questions about the influence of his culture in his music, the inaugural year of his own Wherever I Go Festival, and what is next. "U" remixes Ben Alessi's poppy release by layering in some laid back island atmosphere over Alessi's unique vocal stylings for a summertime track that finds itself very welcome in the middle of the winter. Take a listen below as you check out our exclusive interview.
Only The Beat: What's the first concert/festival you remember going to?Michael Brun: My first concert was Kings Of Leon while I was at Davidson college in North Carolina. And a few months later I was invited down to Ultra Music Festival in Miami by Dirty South.
OTB: What part did growing up in Haiti have on your decision to become a musician? What influence does your heritage have in the music you produce?MB: Haiti is a very musical country, so I think the influence to pursue music came from all of my surroundings. The sounds and musical history of Haiti are definitely still influencing me today. Also, my parents both played piano so they enrolled me in music lessons since I was 6.
OTB: What is the Haitian music scene like? For a traveler, any clubs or festivals that are a must?MB: Right now there is a lot of variety. Between Raboday, Rara, Konpa, Rap, EDM and more there are many amazing artists popping up and I think it’s a really exciting time for music in Haiti. It’s a culturally rich country, so it’s important that people know the music is equally rich. This summer my team started the Wherever I Go Festival and I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to do the bridge all types of genres on one stage.
OTB: I read something in Billboard about you teaching yourself how to make music by doing "terrible mashups." That sounds amazing. Can you elaborate? What was your favorite "terrible mashup" and can we listen to them anywhere? :)
MB: Haha yeah, they were pretty rough. I used to think the faster the tempo, the better the song, so you can get the picture. But the first mashup that I can remember being proud of was between The Police - Message In A Bottle & Axwell’s remix of "Two Million Ways."
OTB: Back in January, you tweeted "2016 I'm ready for you." You may have been the only person who actually was, but I'd definitely say you were right about your tweet. Let's start with XOXO. - How did 'All I Ever Wanted' come about? We're you contacted by the filmmakers to produce it specifically for the movie or did they want to use it after it had been released?
MB: Yes. The director of XOXO, Christopher Louie, had spoken with Pete Tong about a song I had released in 2013 called "Halfway" that inspired some of the movie. Once we got in touch, I suggested making a new song specifically for the film and he agreed! I’m really proud of how "All I Ever Wanted" turned out and the reception has been amazing.
OTB: What does the track "All I Ever Wanted" mean to you?MB: It means never giving up on your dreams.
OTB: What led to you deciding to do your own festival?MB: "Wherever I Go" the song was really well received in Haiti and that became a big factor for the creation of the festival.
OTB: Why did you choose to name the festival after "Wherever I Go?”MB: Because its an extension of the song. "Wherever I Go" is about promoting culture and the positivity of Haiti through community and that’s exactly what the festival was about as well.
OTB: The song "Wherever I Go" had quite the journey, right? What made it evolve into the final product?MB: So many people were important to the success of Wherever I Go. From the students and faculty who joined the studio session at the Audio Institute in Jacmel, to Cheat Codes writing the vocal, to J. Perry & Belo singing and performing it, to all of the people who shared the song and video. It was a powerful story of what a community can create and it was an honor for me to be apart of it.
OTB: What was your biggest takeaway from the Wherever I Go Festival?MB: Just how powerful community really is. Everyone involved made the festival happen, and all with a shared vision of a bright future for Haiti through music and education.
OTB: Now your newest track "U" - awesome summer vibe as we head into the thick of winter here. How did you get connected with Ben Alessi? What went into the process for the collaborating on this song like?MB: A family friend got us in touch and it just clicked from there. I loved the original version of Ben’s U, and I’m really happy with the way my mix of the track turned out.
OTB: Getting hooked up with Hardwell and Calvin Harris, playing at Ultra...a lot seems like it happened very quickly. What keeps you so grounded?MB: I think every one of those experiences acts as a giant reminder for how lucky I am to be where I am today. I’m also really close to my family so I think that’s been a big factor too.
OTB: Ultra, TomorrowLand, Coachella...I feel like you've hit all these milestones so early on. What's next? What is on your festival bucket list (to perform at and to attend)?MB: I’m really excited to continue to grow the Wherever I Go Festival. I’d also love to come back and play again at all those shows you mentioned. Europe and Asia would also be amazing!
OTB: What are you listening to right now (genres, artists, podcasts, whatever)?MB: So much but right now a lot of RnB.
OTB: Last question (just for fun) - if you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?MB: Home! Luckily for me that’s where I am now.
Check out Michael on all those social channels - Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as finding "U" and the rest of his music on his SoundCloudas well as Kid Coconut's SoundCloud - "a platform for artists I respect and admire to release their music in a personal unfiltered way, and share their own musical journeys."