Family Swank: Brooks Brown
Name: Brooks Brown
Check him out: I am Brooks Brown
What do Magna Carta… Holy Grail’s Wondagurl and this week’s Family Swanker have in common? They are both far from your average 16-year-olds. Hailing from Leawood, a suburb of Kansas City, Brooks Brown is a musician and producer who is part of the up-and-coming artist collective, Trill Kill Kult. A natural born entrepreneur, Brown started operating his own local DJ business when he was only 13. Most recently, he placed second in the iMix Producers Showcase in Springfield, Missouri, took first in the iStandard Producers Showcase in Kansas City, and fifth in the iStandard Beast of the Beasts VII — a national producer showcase with judges that include living legends Rockwilder and S1. Brown is also an alumnus of the GRAMMY Camp New York 2013 as well as the pilot class of the GRAMMY Museum’s Music Revolution Project held in Kansas City. Here, Brooks tells us about futuristic funk, overcoming trust issues, and the monotony that comes with trap music.
Mass Appeal: A month ago you mixed up-and-coming Los Angeles-based singer, producer, and performer Hopscotch’s song “Red Sea” — it’s really dope.
Brooks Brown: I loved Hopscotch’s sound from the moment I heard her, and more specifically, I loved the hook in “Red Sea.” It’s a cool, futuristic-sounding tune that I just had to play around with.
MA: When did you decide that music was going to take center stage in your life?
BB: I started playing music when I was 9 years old when my grandpa taught me a couple of guitar chords. I took guitar lessons, continued learning about music theory, and taught myself a few other instruments. By this point, I knew that music was what I wanted to do with my life, but it wasn’t until about four years ago that I decided I wanted to be a music producer and DJ. I fell in love with the whole concept and culture of EDM and had to join the movement.
MA: How long did it take you to really grasp the technicality of mixing?
BB: If there’s one main point I’ve learned about production over the past four years, it’s that you can never know everything. I am still learning new tricks for producing and DJing, even after three-four years of experience. I would say it took me a solid year or so to really get into the workflow and capabilities of the program I use.
MA: As I listened to your SoundCloud, I saw that your mix of Justin Timberlake’s “Strawberry Bubblegum” has had the most views, plays, and shares. It has a very ambient vibe to it, reminiscent of chillwave. Are artists like XXYYXX influential in your sound?
BB: Absolutely. I’m a big fan of Marcel’s! I have always listened to a wide variety of music. I try to incorporate elements of a variety of styles into my production, with an overall goal of creating a unique and original sound. I love future-funk/soul and bass masterminds like Jacuzzi, Mr. Carmack, ESTA, Snakehips, Branchez, and others. I’m a universal hip hop junkie as well; I love Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and Kanye West. I also listen to a lot of indie groups like Young the Giant and Two Door Cinema Club, as well as funk/soul/R&B innovators like George Benson, Earth, Wind and Fire, or even OutKast.
MA: Do you have a preference in the machinery you choose to use?
BB: I produce music in Ableton Live and use an Akai MPD32 and an iRig Keys for some basic MIDI control. When I play out, I use a Xone DX that is controlling Serato Itch.
MA: Your SoundCloud uses tags like “idk,” “Arabian disco,” and “swerve” to describe your music. That being said, how would you describe your sound to someone who is unfamiliar with it?
BB: I typically have fun and crack jokes in my genre tags like that. When I’m describing my sound to someone new, I typically use the words “future bass music,” but narrow that down with “hip hop infused electronic music” or something of that sort. A couple of my tracks could simply be “trap,” but that’s a term that is slowly becoming more and more monotonous in my mind.
MA: When it comes to music, do you also produce and rap, or just stick with mixing?
BB: I’m a musician, a music producer and a DJ. I spend the majority of my time in the studio writing and producing music. I have experience singing in local indie bands, but have never laid down any vocals myself.
MA: If you had to compare yourself to an already established artist, who would it be and why?
BB: I would love to compare myself to the likes of RL Grime, Wave Racer, or Tom Misch. These dudes all have their own unique style and are all forward thinking, originality-centered producers and musicians. I really take pride in the musicianship of music production, and the fact that you need to have an understanding of real, authentic music in order to make it.
MA: With all the positive attention you’ve been receiving for your music, what hardships have you had to overcome?
BB: I’ve learned so much over the years and every learning opportunity was rooted from a hard decision I had to make or a mistake I had made. First of all, making the music is the easy part. It isn’t “easy” in a general sense, but it’s easy compared to the work you have to put into promoting yourself and getting the music out there. Deciding who to trust and who to keep close has been one of the hardest parts so far. With so many connections and so many people that approach me, it can be overwhelming.
MA: What are your aspirations for the future? Are any of them independent of music?
BB: My future plans include a future EP of some sort, as well as continuing to regularly release music via SoundCloud. As I continue releasing music, I am looking to play more shows in the Kansas City area as well as cities across the country.
MA: What can we expect next from Brooks Brown?
BB: You can expect to hear continually evolving music and an official release of some kind this summer. I will also be at more shows, collaborating with more artists, and, of course, striving to produce quality, innovative music.
For more Hopscotch tracks and remixes, visit SoundCloud.