Photo by Maria Jose Govea - The Supermaniak
Emerging from Los Angeles' deep talent pool of producers, Brillz (LA slang for brilliant) has been on a tear lately, with a number of releases. Originally a dancer, he transitioned to making music that everyone can dance to. We caught up with Brillz during a short break from the studio to discuss his choice of headwear, his Twitter scuffle with Azelia Banks and his latest album TWONK.
Evan Jones: You have quite an eclectic mix of headwear. How did you get started?
Brillz: I'm just really into the idea of art, and it's all an expression of what you feel or a statement you want to make. I just like to push the boundaries, and I like wearing hats. I like wearing all kinds of clothes, but I like wearing hats, and I thought I just wanted to have fun and.... Trick them out. Put some spikes in it, or chains. Stuff that matches my aesthetic. It just happened organically, doing a photo shoot and just playing around and wondering, "Oh, it'd be dope if the hat had a chain on it or a spike on it." It was an organic thing, an evolution.
You started out originally as a dancer. How did you start producing music?
I started buying production equipment and programming beats for the crew for performances. We did a couple of videos, and I did some of the music for it. It just kinda happened. I've always been playing music though. I was in bands in high school and always have been a musician. So music and dance have always been both of my passions. It just seemed natural for them to come together to take on its current form: hip-hop meets dance music.
What influences do you draw on for your productions?
Most of my influences lately have been coming from this trap music, this 808 sound, the rhythms. That whole movement as far as hip-hop goes. I really listen to everything when I'm writing chord progressions or parts that are a little bit more emotional. I don't really draw from that. I'll just listen to older music, like John Lennon or Bob Marley -- those kind of songwriters. David Bowie, Dylan, Led Zeppelin...a lot of classic stuff. At the same time, I listen to everything that's popular, and I check out the radio. It all probably just meshes into one random mix of everything. I work on a lot of different stuff. If I'm working on some hardass slow trap thing, I'm only gonna get inspired by certain things. It's really hard to pinpoint exactly what the influences are, but I think it comes across.
Your full-length album TWONK was just released on Slow Roast Records. How did you go about getting the collaborations on the album?
I met Craze and started talking to those guys about doing something. Obviously, it was really natural to work with Craze. I've always really respected him; he's the man. He's one of the illest DJs...period. He's a legend. Working with him was like, "I wanna put something out on your label; let's do a tune."
For the most part, all the collaborations happened through Twitter. Naturally, we started e-mailing and texting and talking to each other, saying, "Hey man, I saw you're playing in my city. Stay for an extra day. Lets make a tune." That's what me and Willy Joy did. First time I played D.C., I stayed for an extra day and we met up at his place and started working on the tune. We e-mailed it back and forth. Cory Enemy is another LA cat I met through people. I didn't make a list and be like, "Here's who I wanna work with." It came through interacting.
Who are some artists you'd like to collaborate with in the future?
I'd love to work with Baauer. I really respect his vision for the stuff he does. It'd be really cool to get in the studio with him and see how he thinks. Same thing with Skrillex; he's the man. I really wanna do another tune with Kill the Noise. Every time I work with that guy it's so epic. His work ethic, the way he pushes his boundaries...I'd put him on my list consistently. I'd love to do something with Major Lazer. It'd be cool to do a tune with Gent & Jawns. There's a dude named Buku putting out some interesting stuff...it'd be dope to get in the studio with him.
Recently you got roped into a small Twitter altercation involving Azelia Banks. How do you reconcile the fact that social media is a big part of the music industry now? Is everything settled with Azelia Banks?
We just live in an age where everything is kind of public. At the end of the day, you can't take yourself too seriously, ever. That's my personal philosophy. As serious as I take my music, people hate on me and whatever...but it doesn't get to me. That's the way the world works. I've reposted shit on Instagram about someone making a funny joke about me, I posted it up, and we all got a kick out of it.
The Azelia Banks thing...she did it to herself. I didn't contribute any beef, and there's no beef right now; if I saw her I'd say what up. I'm a peaceful guy. I believe my art and what I do with my projects has a spiritual undertone to it. You can take my tune and steal it or whatever...lawyers deal with that shit. There's no reason for me to get stressed about it. Ultimately it's a form of flattery. We got it handled. She ended up apologizing. It was all cool, we weren't even trying to have any beef. Our teams got together and everything got worked out. We've emailed since then. It's all good.
If she asked you now, would you collaborate with Azelia Banks?
Uh...I'd have to cross that bridge when we get there.
What else are you planning on releasing in 2013?
Man...a lot. I got a couple of remixes coming out that'll smash. I got some new originals I'm working on. I'm working on a New Jack Swing mixtape with Cory Enemy and ETC! ETC!
I dunno man...shit's gonna happen. I'm always working and staying in the moment, so it's hard to plan too much ahead.
Friday, April 19, 9 p.m. Kill the Noise with 12th Planet, Brillz, Codes and Coreyography @ Europe Nightclub (Tickets $15-$20) (18+)