Havana Brown On the Male-Dominated DJ Scene: 'I Love Nothing More Than to Prove People Wrong'
Havana Brown went toe-to-toe with the boys when she stepped out onto a male-dominated DJ scene back in the early 2000's, and managed to walk over her competition in her high-heels when she broke out with her hit track, "We Run the Night."
Celebuzz recently caught up with Brown to chat about her new-found success.
How did you get into DJing?
I started about 6 years ago and I was living in the UK. I was actually working on music, writing and producing over there and I actually finished an album with a group over there and we signed to a major record label over there. I really didn’t know what was going on but the boys in the group ended up hating each other’s guts. It was so disappointing and so stupid at the end of the day. That was the worst part of my life. It felt like all that time and effort had amounted to nothing. At that stage, I just started going clubbing a lot -- like dancing my soles away -- and it was really all about that just going out and having fun. One of those nights, I was looking at the DJ I said, "That would be the best job in the world. You get to go out and play music and you get to perform as well." Fortunately, one of the guys from the group that I joined was a DJ and the next morning I called him and he said I should do it. I went over to his house and in that moment I had my first lesson in DJing. I ended up not paying for 3-4 months and went through all the trouble of buying some decks and that was it. I worked from then getting my first DJ gig -- which was not easy because obviously a lot of people were a bit skeptical thinking, "What’s going on here? Females don’t DJ."
Do you thinks it’s hard for a female DJ out there? I don’t think so nowadays. I think there are a lot of females out there now, which is good and people are getting used to seeing a female out there. When I first started, I guess there was a lot more convincing because I don’t think people could understand what was going on. I was in a micro miniskirt with high heels on, so people were like, "Why is this girl doing this? She can't possibly DJ." I didn't believe it though. I just needed to stick with it and I had a lot of people -- particularly guy DJs -- that said I wasn't going to last a year in this industry. I love nothing more than to prove people wrong, so I absolutely proved them wrong and I don’t even think those DJs are around anymore.
Did you put extra pressure on yourself to prove people wrong? Well, I'm a hard worker. I love what I do so it comes naturally. I work hard. I didn’t feel like I need to put more pressure on myself. I knew what I could do, and I knew what I wanted to do. They obviously believed that it was a gimmick or some sort of thing that would pass by, but they didn’t know me. I just wanted to be me and do what I loved.
What would you say to aspiring female DJs? You've got to work hard. If you think you're just going to be a girl and all of a sudden have all these shows and be able to make it a career, it's not that easy. I started from ground up. It was step-by-step process and it didn’t just happen overnight. I was doing small little clubs, then I would get a national gig here and there, and then I’d get an international gig. It grew slowly and organically. There was nothing forced. It’s very important to realize that you've got to work hard.
What was the best advice you've gotten?
My dad has always said to me, “Do you know how many people want to do music in the world? You need to make sure you're working harder than each and every one of those people.” That has always stuck with me -- if you want to do this, you'll have to really do it.
You have opened for a lot of really big names in the music industry. What was favorite tour memory? Every single one of those tours were amazing, but probably one of my favorite memories is the Britney Spears tour when I did the very first show in Paris. I had just arrived in Paris and I was backstage just before the show when Britney Spears' dad comes in, knocks on the door and introduces himself. He said, “I just wanted to let you know it's so quiet out there. There’s 40,000 people out there but it's like a library -- everything is really quiet and they’re not talking. I'm a bit concerned. You might need to get out there and hype that crowd up.” I'm like, "Aww, I've got pressure going on here, you don’t need to make it worst!" I thought he might have been exaggerating a little but I went out there, you could hear a pin drop. I didn’t know what was going on and I got up on stage thinking to myself, "Why? Why? Why did I do this?" But as soon as started, they literally stood up and started dancing and screaming. It was so unexpected. Getting off that after that first show was probably the best feeling I ever had. I went up there, killed it, came off stage and Britney found me and said, “We want you to continue the tour with us in Australia as well." So, that was totally one of me favorite memories -- so much fear and so much happiness.
Who is an artist you're dying to collaborate with? Janet Jackson, of course, because she’s my idol and I grew up with her. I just wanted to be Janet Jackson when I was growing up. I have all her DVDs and all her music videos. She's so entertaining. Everything about her -- demeanor personality and music -- is mind-blowing. I would love to collaborate with her.
What is your summer jam this year? I’ve got to say “Big Banana” by me and featuring R3hab and Prophet. That song is featured on my EP and it’s about "big bananas" and how good "big bananas" are. Its just so much fun. It's kinky and has a crazy ass beat to it. It’s amazing and I’m going to toot my own horn.
Brown's first EP, When the Lights Go Out, is now out in stores.