DJ HAVANA BROWN shares her superstar secrets and says, “You gotta do you.” Keep reading for interview and tour dates.
[By Monica Harris]
Not only is Havana Brown a superstar DJ, opening for Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and the Pussycat Dolls, she’s also quickly becoming a pop phenomenon with her debut single “We Run the Night”, where she moves from behind the turntables to center stage.
Q. Tell me how you originally got into music.
HAVANA: I couldn’t tell you, because I can’t even remember because I was so young. My mom tells me this story that she was doing my hair and we were watching television and Janet Jackson came on television. I was really young, like 3 or 4. And I pointed at the TV and said, Mum, I want to do that. [Laughs.] And she said okay. Back then, she’s thinking there was no chance that I’d ever be able to do anything professionally with it. But she still said okay, let’s go. She took me to a dance school, singing school, and I got full into it. And I just have been doing music all my life. Before I finished high school I was working on my original music, just getting into the studio and writing and getting connected with the producing side of things as well. So I’ve always been in music. Yeah, I can barely remember the time when I started. That’s all I know.
Q. You’re a successful DJ and you’ve performed all over Europe. Did you feel as a woman you had to work harder to be accepted as a DJ? Is it still a male-dominated industry?
HAVANA: It’s definitely a male dominated industry. In Australia I’ve been DJ-ing for awhile and people have gotten to know me as a DJ. And yes, in the very beginning, I think people were very skeptical whether this was serious for me. You know, for some reason, I don’t know what it is, but a girl in a miniskirt means that they must be the dumbest thing in the world. I don’t know. People cannot accept the fact that a girl can be talented as well, and DJ, and know music and know what she’s doing. They had a difficult time accepting that part. I heard a lot of things. People said a lot of things like I wouldn’t last a year in the industry. A lot of guys, mind you. But then in the club, years on, I was still DJ-ing and kicking ass. I was doing stuff that they had never done before, and I was doing stuff that they never thought was possible. So I always had something to prove to myself, but I think only time lets people know. After DJ-ing for 5 years and I keep rolling, they know I’m serious. After that, what are they gonna say? [Laughs.] It was still a joke? No. Definitely in the beginning people were skeptical. Even coming here to the States. I’ve gotten a few comments like, “Oh my gosh, you’re actually a real DJ?” I’m like, what do you mean by that? [Laughs.] Are you kidding me? This is my craft, this is what I do. I’ve been doing it for 6 years. I wouldn’t be touring with the biggest acts in the world if I was out there faking it.
Q. Your current single ‘We Run the Night’ is topping the charts in Australia, and Pitbull has collaborated on the song for the U.S. version. What’s it like working with Pitbull? Video: We Run the Night
HAVANA: I love working with Pitbull. He is incredibly nice, really down to earth, he’s smart and intelligent. He’s always willing to help you. He’s always offering me his hand, “If you need anything, let me know.” I love that. He’s really talented. He has this love for music, and he has this vibe. When he gets up on stage, it’s just him and the band, obviously, but he’s up there and he’s performing, he’s got so much energy and I love watching him. I think he has definitely inspired me in my music as well, because I’ve been playing Pitbull since I started DJ-ing. When I was DJ-ing back then he was my favorite person to play because he was one of the first people to start rapping on some classic house tunes. And I loved it because then I could start playing house music in the hip hop clubs as well. I could start playing all sorts of music in my sets. Because in Australia, for some reason, if you’re in a hip hop club, that’s what you play. You do not play house music, and vice versa. When he started doing that, I was so excited because I could start playing all sorts and that’s when I started taking risks. And DJ AM was one of my favorite DJs. He inspired me a lot. I loved how he played all sorts of music. He’d shock you with the music he played. Like old classic tunes that you hadn’t thought about in 10 years and he’d drop it, and you’d be like “what?” And I loved that. I love that element of shock and surprise, but also, it’s got good vibes. That’s what Pitbull is about. I’ve never seen a concert where the crowd has their hands up the whole entire time. It’s insane. It’s such a great concert.
Q. That’s amazing that it came full circle, and you’re now performing with him. You have so much determination. Do you think there’s a formula for success in the music industry?
HAVANA: You definitely need to be passionate. You need to be diligent, and work hard. It’s not easy. It’s not like you can go to university, you get a degree, and you come out and you can become an automatic pop star. You know what I mean? It’s like your whole entire life is fixed on “ifs.” Nothing is for sure. I think you’ve got to almost like that, too. You’ve got be okay with taking risks. You can do a highly paid job or do something for free just to get your foot in the door. Because some people are scared not having that regular paid job, that weekly income, for obvious reasons. I can understand that too. But for me, it’s all about doing music and I just wanted to do something that I was passionate about. If I had zero dollars coming in that week, that’s just how it was. I think you got to take the risks. I think hard work, persistence, and loving risk taking. And be passionate about the music too.
Q. You’ve kind of answered my next question, which is what advice you would give to others who dream of success in music. Is there anything else you want to add to that?
HAVANA: You gotta do ‘you’. You got to be yourself. I think that’s really important. Obviously you want to have your own persona out there, you don’t want to try to be like Britney Spears or someone else. That doesn’t work. It’s very important to do you. Regardless of what anyone says. Whether they think it will work or not. If that’s what you want to do, you do it. That is probably what will set you apart from anyone else.
Upcoming tour dates: