Interview: Havana Brown

Hailed as Australia’s leading female spinstress, the gorgeous DJ Havana Brown interviewed with JUICE and we found out exactly what inspires her music. We also found out about the plethora of male and female fans that support her, her love of animals and Asia! Having been handpicked for the Britney Spears tour as well as DJing for the Grammy‘s after party, DJ Havana Brown has had her fair share of experience and exposure in the world music industry. We caught up with this Australian DJ at the Johnnie Walker Black Circuit Lounge held recently at the Swedish Marque.

Hi Havana, have you played in KL before?
Yeah, it was a couple of years ago in the Hilton.

How do you find Asia?
I love Asia. I think the crowd’s always great. I’ve played here and all around Asia many times before.

Where’s your favourite spot in Asia?
That’s really hard! I mean it’s so different, you can go to somewhere like Bali, and then Beijing, Shanghai, then Kuala Lumpur. I love the fact that Kuala Lumpur is so hot in winter time (laughs). I’m enjoying the heat, it’s so cold in Melbourne at the moment so it’s a really nice change to be here and I can wear my flip flops around.

What are you doing when you’re not DJing around Asia. Do you tour around?
I tour all over the place. I just came back from a European tour, which was around Greece, London, St Tropez and Paris. It was really nice. I’ve toured the US a few times this year and I tour Australia constantly, so I’m always working and DJing. I also have 2 radio shows in Australia that’s national, which is amazing.

Where does Havana Brown come from?
It’s actually a rare breed of cat. It actually isn’t my real name, but I won’t reveal my real name (laughs). My real name is nice, I actually really like it but I just thought it wasn’t sexy enough. It’s a very pretty name, whereas I wanted a name that sounded more in charge and more confident, independent.

Do you have a pet?
Yes, I do. I have a dog. Not a cat, I’m trying to get a Havana Brown cat, but they’re really hard to find. They’re so rare and there’s not many breeders out there. But I will one day find one. My dog is a border collie. He’s about 11 years old.

Do you bring him around with you?
I can’t travel with him so much, so he spends a lot of time at my parent’s house. To just bring a dog back to Australia from overseas means that they have to be in quarantine for 3 months. So I couldn’t do that!

What do you think makes a good DJ? It seems like nowadays anyone with a laptop can become a DJ. What are the skills that are involved?
Anyone can become a DJ but to become a good DJ, there’s a difference between the common DJ that can’t necessarily book international gigs and there’s ones that can. Yeah, anyone can be a DJ but you can be a good DJ or a bad DJ. I think you have to be able to mix the songs well, there’s got to be flow and mix the right songs. It’s so difficult to explain, really. I’m just so glad that people enjoy what I do. I like to cut things short, and mix things well, to have a flow and be a journey. I like to have a lot of types of music as well, a little bit of rock, rnb, house and dance music. Mixing it up is really good, and lots of fun and lots of people can enjoy it too.

Who’s your favorite DJ?
I’d have to say DJ AM. He was my favorite DJ and inspired me a lot. He did what I was just talking about. He just chopped it up and played lots of different music, there was no boundaries and I liked how he broke boundaries. He would play a classic Bon Jovi track in the middle of a current hip hop set. I love that, he’s a very big inspiration to me.

Have you ever met him?
No, unfortunately he actually passed away a week before I was going to Las Vegas.

Are there are any DJs that you would like to collaborate with?
I’d like to collaborate with the Swedish House Mafia. I’d love to do stuff with David Guetta, I play his music all the time. I’m working on my own original music so I’d love to work with him.

What has been your favorite tour?
It’s very hard to say. They were all really good and I was really proud to be part of them. I’d have to say Britney Spears was a big one for me, it was a big stage and I also got to go on tour with her around Europe and around the world, so that was an experience. She’s like an icon to me, she was who I was listening to when I was 14, 15. She’s a legend, so I was very, very proud to be part of her tour.

What inspired you to be a DJ?
I’ve been part of music my whole life. My whole entire life I’ve been singing, dancing and I’ve always loved music. I was actually part of a group in UK which had signed to a record label and we were about to release our first single but the group fell apart before that. That was kind of disappointing to me, I was just thinking ‘I just want to do music, and do what I love’. I was looking at the DJ one night when I was out with my friends and thought that would be my dream job. You get to go out, play great music and entertain a crowd. I love it immensely. I had a good friend who was a DJ who taught me the basics and I just loved it. It was instant for me.

Is it hard to be a female DJ and still be recognised as much as male DJs?
I think for any DJ it is difficult, regardless if you’re female or male in Australia to get recognised for what you do in any industry. It’s difficult anywhere around the world to make it. One of the big bosses from Universal saw me play, and he had these compilations that he does with other guy DJs and he asked whether I’d be interested in doing a compilation and I said absolutely. That was really great in getting my name out there and putting a CD out that people would actually purchase. That really helped with my name, from then on I’ve been working on my original music for years so I approached him to do my original music and to sign me as an artist as well.

Are there any disadvantages to being a female DJ?
I guess there are, but there’s also advantages. There’s not that many female DJs so I think that’s great for us – it’s more rare.

Do you get a lot of guys chatting you up?
Yeah I do, but I get a lot of girls as well (laughs). Absolutely. I much prefer it when girls come up, but when guys come up, it’s difficult because you’re working. It’s like ‘I’m working, I can’t talk to you!’ I had a female actually say to me that she’d leave her husband for me! Like seriously!

What’s one thing that you can’t live without?
My parents, my family.

What about an item or an object?
My music collection.

Who would you like to spin for?
I spun at the Grammy‘s after party this year, and I played in front of some of the greatest legends there is, like Quincy Jones and Dr Dre and actually Dr Dre wanted to meet me because he loved my DJ set! It’s difficult to say who I would like to spin for. I’d love to have been part of Michael Jackson’s tour. It would’ve been amazing to meet him.

If you weren’t a DJ, what would you be doing?
If it had nothing to do with music, I’d be an animal cop. I would be rescuing animals. When I retire I want to have my own pound where I can adopt any animals – homeless, or been mistreated. I like both cats and dogs. I like a cat’s personality, I admire their personality; they’re very strong and independent. They know what they want. I love that. I also love dogs, they’re so loyal and lovely no matter what.

So you used to be on the show Neighbours, will you do more acting in the future?
I loved being in Neighbours but I loved my music more. That’s why I continued with my music and singing, and ended up with the record deals because that was what I was passionate about but I really enjoyed acting as well. It’s entertainment, and I love entertainment, I’d love to do more in the future, absolutely.

Can you name one thing you love about Malaysia?
I love the shopping here. Oh my goodness, your shopping here is insane. The malls are massive, we have nothing like that in Australia. I bought this bag with me here. I love it, and the weather too. The tropical weather, the friendly and helpful people here.

What was an unforgettable event for you that you played at?
Playing at the Grammy‘s after party was insane. Just playing the music that I play in front of the .people who actually made the music or inspired the type of music. F1 Rocks last year in Singapore, the Britney tour. It’s too difficult to answer because there’s been so many amazing gigs. F1 Rocks sticks in my mind a lot, it was very hot, very humid, we had all these lights on us and I was sweating away. I was in a leotard, which was nice and easy. It was so hot, but I just did not care. My hair was all wet, it was such a great vibe though. The crowd was giving me so much and I had so much fun!

Do you have any crazy fans?
All my fans are really great, I can’t say any of them are crazy.

Does your previous group from the UK have anything to say about your DJing?
Well one of the guys from the group is actually the guy who taught me how to DJ. And I thought he was going to laugh at me when I told him that I wanted to become one. But he said to me that it was a brilliant idea and said I would be great at it. His name is Supafly and he’s put out some great songs too.

Do you go home a lot? Where do you spend the most time?
This year has been between LA and Australia. I’ve probably only spent 2 or 3 months in Australia this year. I’ve been mostly away traveling.

How do you feel tonight about being involved at the Johnnie Walker Black Circuit Lounge event?
It’s great to be part of such a great brand, to be associated to be part of a brand that is so elegant and I love the drink as well. I heard it’s going to be free pour so I’m sure everyone is going to have a great time tonight! (laughs).

The Melbournian DJ was a hit at the Johnnie Walker Black Circuit Lounge event at Swedish Marque which took place on 28 August 2010. For more info on DJ Havana Brown and to listen to more of her music, check out www.myspace.com/havanabrown and her official site www.djhavanabrown.com.au. For more info on the event, go to http://www.facebook.com/johnniewalkermalaysia. Also, check out this cool video compilation of the event:

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Image Johnnie Walker

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