Havana Brown Chats Bizarre Pitbull Dinner Dates, Rihanna & The Struggle Of A Female DJ
It might be a slight understatement to say that the past few years have been pretty busy for Havana Brown.
The 30-year-old singer/DJ has seen huge successes in the music industry both domestically and internationally, with her Pitbull collaborated song 'We Run The Night' going triple platinum. That's not bad for a young girl from Melbourne.
We caught up with the LA-based pocket rocket to unpack the ups and downs of her career before she hits the stage as one of the headlining acts at this year's MTV Beats & Eats festival.
Looking forward now what does success look like to you?
"What is success, for me? It’s doing what you love and being happy, you know? Growing up, the whole idea when you leave school, the whole scary part is that you realize you’ve got to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life. I think following your passion can sometimes be a little bit scary and it’s not for sure that it’s going to happen, especially when it comes to music and creative. So I think being able to do what I love everyday, and make a living from it, that is success for me."
When you first started out you were signed to a group called Fishbowl and unfortunately before you released the first single it dissolved. Was that a pivotal moment in your career?
"I’d say it was a very defining moment because it could have been a point at which I could have given up on music in general. It definitely crushed my mind and I went through a period where I didn’t want anything to do with it. Because of Fishbowl and it dissolving and it not being very successful is the reason that I saw the opportunity for DJ-ing, and that just completely changed my world and life. It’s why I’m able to do music on a daily basis, so I’m very grateful for everything – even the situations that I thought might end my world and my career."
We guess that sort of led you on to bigger and better things?
"That happens to a lot of people and it just depends on whether you pick yourself back up. The people that really succeed always have a story of falling apart and things not working out. Then one day it all just comes together and the stars align. Persistence and diligence, it all pays off."
You've been in the industry for ten plus years, have you always had support around you in pursuing this career?
"With my closest friends and immediate family – absolutely. With my manager I’ve had the biggest support as well. But people on the outside, I wouldn’t say everyone was fully supportive and understood what I was doing, because it sometimes seems a bit far-fetched to become a musician in Australia. It’s definitely out of the box and not something everyone thinks is possible. So I wouldn’t say that I thought it was the way that every single person thought I should be pursuing my life or pursuing a carer, or where I should be going."
Was there a moment where you received intense backlash or criticism?
"Look there have been people in my life who have said ‘I think it’s time for you to give up and go to school, go to university’ and it just broke my heart because I knew I had so much more fight in me and so much more to give. Even if I was struggling I never felt like it was time for me to give up. Having someone close to you say that, is heart breaking. I’ve even had an ex-boyfriend be like, ‘why don’t you just do something normal? Why do you have to do this? Go to school and get a normal job’, and that’s heart breaking because you are trying to do something that a lot of people don’t understand, they don’t get it – there is no immediate pay off. They don’t see the benefits straight away. In the long run, I think if you’ve got passion no matter how long it takes and how hard you have to work, the benefits are about how you feel inside and about yourself is definitely worthwhile."
Does it make those successful moments so much sweeter when you get to prove those people wrong?
"Obviously you can have a little chuckle to yourself. But the main reason you do these things is for pure passion and you do have a little more fight in you, as well, like ‘yeah, I’ll prove you’."
What's the most riciculous story or rumour you've ready about yourself?
"Considering I started out DJ-ing a little while ago, there was not a lot of female DJs around so it was really difficult for people to really understand a female DJ. I know that sounds weird now, because it’s developed quite a lot as there are a lot more females, but it was so difficult as there were so many different rumours. They just didn’t like the fact I was there. I don’t know why it was so easy for people to believe [the rumours]. It’s incredibly sexist to say there’s no way a female that looks like that can do this, and they just didn’t want to accept it."
You paved the way for a lot of young female DJs who are coming through right now. You must be proud of that?
"When I started out what I really wanted to do was inspire other females to get into the industry. When I started out it wasn’t even comprehended as a career because girls didn’t do DJ-ing, not because it was a sexist thing – it just wasn't something girls did. So I really hoped for the day that I would see females on the deck a lot more often. I’m definitely used to seeing that now."
What has been the best review you've received?
"That’s funny, because one thing that I really love is the dedication that your fans give you. I’ve had fans that come to every single show, and they’ll travel, they’ll fly and they’ll drive for hours to come to my shows. That to me is more than any other glowing review that I could possibly get. It’s pure dedication and they still do it to this day, years later. On top of that, if it was more on an industry side, getting nominated at the ARIA awards is pretty up there. To be recognised in the industry, always feel good."
You've got an incredible rap sheet - you've gone on tour with Rihanna, The Pussycat Dolls and Britney Spears. What has been the most memorable moment on tour?
"Ah, lots of memories! The first time I went out to dinner with Pitbull and his crew, we had a huge, private table at Nobu in Perth, and I just found it really cute and amazing that he had this backpack. Pitbull with a backpack? Pitbull doesn’t have backpacks! He was in this suit and really suave looking and he’s got this little backpack. He opens it up and brings out this full speaker and starts playing his own music in this little private room, really loud. What I loved about it, the Cubans have so much fun! We’re sitting there having dinner, but no one was eating and everyone was dancing around the table. It was the one of the most entertaining and fun dinners I have ever been to!"
Is there anything you learned from Rihanna?
"I’m such a huge fan of Rihanna and one thing that I take from her, in general, is her being unique and being herself. She’s such a risk taker and I really admire that. A lot of things I do, I try to take risks for myself and just be who I am and not be afraid of that. But being on tour with her, that was quite a few years ago now and she was a different artist then. But I resonate with her a lot, too. She’s one of my favourite artists, favourite people, and favourite celebrity there is out there, right now. That’s because she does what she wants."
You’re living in LA at the moment, do you feel like career opportunities are bigger and better over there?
"Obviously there are more opportunities here, this is the hub of entertainment. What I love about living in LA is that everyone is in entertainment, somehow. Their either successful or they’re still trying to get success or score a job or make a hit song. I feel like I’m surrounded by very similar minded people, and it makes you feel good. It’s also about being inspired by people that you meet and see and something they might talk about that I can relate to. I really love living here."
We’re really excited that you’re coming back for MTV Beats & Eats, what are you most looking forward to?
"I can’t wait to get up there and perform and see the crowd get excited. On top of that – the food! I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of food there, right?"
The food is a huge thing, as well! Everyone is really flipping out over it...
"I think it’s a great concept because when you’re out and you’re dancing in amongst a lot of people, food is hard to come by at those sorts of places at other festivals. So, I’m excited to taste the food, it’s one of my favourite past times. I’ve actually just come back from lunch, I always enjoy a good feast!"
What's coming up for you in 2016?
"I’m still working on music and I’m looking forward to releasing an EP. That’s going to have a few songs on it, and it’s going to be more in line with where I’m going with my music just to give people a bit more of a taste of where I’m musically and creatively."
You can catch Havana Brown performing at MTV Beats & Eats festival on November 21. To register for tickets head here.
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