Los Angeles-based DJ/producer Brazzabelle (Brittney Bowles to her family) is from the future. By that I mean if you’ve yet to come across her, you’re about to—especially if you’re frequently found sweating on the dancefloor. The crowd at Control at Avalon Hollywood can testify, she holds down a residency at the night. Ditto for all the L.E.D. revelers at Voyeur in San Diego and every other dancefloor Brazzabelle has lit up. Even the most grounded wallflowers can attest to her chops. At it for a little over two years, the fashionable Brazzabelle has already played alongside names like Natalia Kills, Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, Laidback Luke, Miike Snow, The Bloody Beetroots, Style of Eye, Riva Starr, Annie Mac, Doorly, Jesse Rose, Bag Raiders, Carte Blanche, Classix and Nervo to name a few.
Brazzabelle kicked off the New Year in proper fashion with the very well received mixtape, “Unicorn Tears.” The mix features tracks by Digitalism, Umek & Beltek, Bart B More & Harvard Bass, Martin Solveig and original material by Brazzabelle herself—her debut single “Break Your Body” from last year via Circuit Freq Records and her latest tune, “Elevator”—plus a preview of a yet to be announced banger. She just remixed fellow Savior of Sound, Gentlemen Hall’s “Take Me Under,” which you can listen to below. Think of all this as a preview of what you can expect to hear from this young, upcoming producer. She has a sound, she has a look, her rise continues…stardom imminent.
Brazzabelle “Unicorn Tears Mixtape”
Home Town: Cave Creek, AZ
Currently Living: Los Angeles, CA
Origin Of Name: It was conjured up by an Italian friend of mine while throwing around some ideas for a new name. She threw out Brazzaville (the capital of Congo), which sounded amazing with an accent and I modified it to Brazzabelle. I think it’s important to have a touch of femininity in your name—if you’re a girl. Finally I Googled Brazzabelle and found no results and the rest is history!
E-Slug: bunnyfood.tumblr.com. It’s the greatest thing on the Internet. It’s basically a Tumblr that posts the cutest, funniest and most amazing animal photos/videos.
Weapon Of Choice: A five-inch heel.
Est. Miles Traveled Per Year: Not enough.
Gigs Played/Nights Out Per Year: 50 ish?
Source of Power: I’m pretty inspired by the future, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi and fantasy realms.
I’m on a mission to make you sweat. I’m impossibly innocent, young and armed with sounds to make even the most grounded wallflower shake. Mice sew my custom couture and birds dress me in the morning.
Can you walk us through your various musical phases? From early interest to actual creative output.
I have always fully submerged myself into whatever genre or fad I was into at the time. When I was nine, my parents gave me an absurd allowance of $50 a month that I would only spend on CDs. I loved Silverchair, Offspring, 311 and was a huge grungy tomboy. My parents would take me to concerts at a young age and the band would curse and do all sorts or terrible things at which point my parents would vow to never take us to another concert again. When I was 14, I started getting into dance music but none of my peers were really into it except for the four ravers I had at my high school whom wore candy jewelry and huge parachute pants. I wanted to go to a rave so badly but was terrified of what I thought happened there. A few years later I was a full-fledged scene kid with black hair and bangs over my eyes that went to see the hottest local bands in Phoenix a few nights of the week and thought I was so cool! Then in college I was a huge fan of singer-songwritter type artists like Sufjan Stevens as well as on the opposite end of the spectrum with rap music like Three Six Mafia (embarrassing times). I have a kind of eclectic background of tastes and genres, but now I try to keep more of an individualistic point of view rather than diving into something full on.
If you could send advice via a fortune cookie to up-and-comers, it would read:
Hard work will only get you everything.
What is a song that inspired you to create?
ATB’s Movin’ Melodies album was on repeat when I started making dance music. I heard that they have the “formula” to making perfect dance tracks, which sent me on my journey for my own formula.
Tell us about a specific event or period in your life that is linked in your mind to a song/album.
The day after I graduated high school, before starting college, I packed up my car and drove to Portland Oregon to work at a snowboard camp for the summer. It was about a 25-hour drive from Arizona to Oregon, which I drove alone. I remember listening to the (new at the time) Bloc Party album, Silent Alarm on repeat. That album makes me reminisce about that time in my life where I was sort or leaving the nest and starting my own life adventures—being on my own for the first time. When I finally got to Portland I went straight to the Crystal Ballroom and used a fake ID for the first time. My older work friend from AZ had given it me to get into the Bloc Party show. That was just the icing on the cake. I remember running to the front of the stage and bouncing up and down with a bunch of other sweaty concert goers thinking: “THIS IS AWESOME!”
Gentlemen Hall “Take Me Under” (Brazzabelle Remix)
Is there a band whose album covers you love? Or a designer of covers?
I really love all of the Sound of Stereo designs by Vincent. He does all of the artwork for his own releases and other Belgian groups like Mumbai Science. The Sound of Stereo covers are simple yet brilliant. They’re very clean and futuristic. I also really love the cover art he’s done for the Mumbai Science Unified Theory Trilogy.
Are there any dots to connect with where/how you grew up to your musical output?
My parents always forced me to be involved in music and sports activities. I went to piano lessons at this woman’s house that had 15 cats. I hated it. I felt piano was kind of a dorky instrument at the time and after two years of lessons my mom finally let me quit but said, “You’ll thank me someday for making you take these lessons.” She was right. After that I had a bass guitar for four months, traded it in for classical guitar lessons, which I eventually quit as well. Even though I never really got dialed into it, these things all lead to the basic understanding of composition, which I find to be a real help today.
When the track dropped and people were dancing with their arms in the air I couldn’t believe it… It was such an amazing feeling.
What value do you place on environment as a creative springboard?
Being a producer today you need to be able to adapt to your environments—more so than ever before. You may be touring and need to work on tracks in the airport, or hotel room, or any other not so ideal location. For that reason, my set-up is pretty simple and allows me to work anywhere. My favorite place for working, however, is in my bed because it’s so comfortable. I don’t mind sitting there for hours while I work on tracks.
Do you remember the first time you had a live audience’s complete attention?
I played other peoples music for a long time before producing and playing my own. There is no greater feeling in the world than playing a track you created and the crowd reacting positively to it. I remember when I played my first single “Break Your Body,” I was so nervous wondering if people were going to like it or if it was going to clear the dancefloor. When the track dropped and people were dancing with their arms in the air I couldn’t believe it! I had the hugest smile on my face. It was such an amazing feeling.
What has changed in the realm of headphones since your first pair?
Pretty much everything has improved: comfort, quality and especially style. I think headphones used to be only concentrated on functionality, but now style is just as important as function (two things SOL REPUBLIC does well) which makes wearing them a lot more fun and personalized.
Soundtrack of Life:
Since I’m doing this at the time of fashion week, I decided to make a playlist of my favorite tracks for the catwalk. These are the songs that I would play for the following designers’ shows.
Rick Owens: This one is dark and a bit minimal but it has a huge impact.
Jeremy Scott: This song screams, We are young and we don’t care. It’s hip and something our parents will never understand.
Dolce & Gabbana: I imagine this song for the finale of D&G’s A/W 2011 collection because it’s so uplifting and colorful. Makes you want to jump off your seat and cheer.
L.A.M.B.: This song has a beat that the tough, confident and sexy L.A.M.B girl would strut down the NY streets to. Paired with M.I.A.’s tough-girl vocals it’s a match made in heaven.
Gareth Pugh: Futuristic, sexy and out of this world!
Brazzabelle “Elevator (Going Up)” (Original Mix)