This Is My Jam: Brooklyn Kelly

Thursday, February 25, 2021

This Is My Jam: Brooklyn Kelly

By Simone Soublet, Edited by Myles Dement, Produced by Raven Yamamoto, Nick Canchola




Simone Soublet and Nick Canchola continue getting down and personal with artists and musicians from LMU with their podcast “This Is My Jam!” 
Through their conversations, they hope to shed light on these artists’ past, present, and future. And of course—listen to some music along the way. For the third episode, host Simone Soublet is joined by Brooklyn Kelly to talk about her most recent and future projects. 

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

Simone Soublet (SS): I’m Simone Soublet and This Is My Jam. Thanks for tuning in! We’ll be getting down and personal with our favorite artists and musicians. Through our conversations, we hope to shed light on their past, present, and future and, of course,  listen to some music along the way. Today’s guest is Brooklyn Kelly, a junior theater arts major at LMU. 

SS: Brooklyn was inspired by the performers we all listen to and love.

Brooklyn Kelly (BK): When I was around seven years old, my mom was cleaning around the house and while I was watching her clean, she would actually put in, like, she had DVDs of Beyonce and J-Lo's tour videos from back then. So, she would play them while she was cleaning the house and I would just sit in front of the TV, just like, “Oh my God, I want to do that. I want to do that.” And I would sing along to all their songs and my mom was like, “Oh, okay. That’s interesting.” And I remember after that, I was like, “Can I go to do singing lessons? I want singing lessons.” So, yeah, that's what first inspired me was Beyonce and J-Lo’s tour videos.

SS: What got Brooklyn actually writing and composing music were artists like Alicia Keys, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Jessie J, and Little Mix. 

BK: Alicia Keys is probably one of my biggest inspirations, but also Nicki Minaj, because back then, like, you know, she's coming out with “Moment for Life”...Oh my God right? It’s like one of the greatest. I think I listened to it like last week and I was like, “Oh my God, I forgot about this song”. Like Nicki Minaj was really like that person for me too and I even dressed up as her for Halloween when I was a kid, because I loved her, I adored that woman. Also, I would say Lady Gaga and Little Mix as well and definitely Jessie J when I was younger. It's mainly because Lady Gaga, back then I was like 10 or 11, Lady Gaga came out with “Born This Way” and Little Mix came out with “Wings”.

SS: I asked Brooklyn about why these artists inspired her specifically when she was younger. When she was about 10 or 11 years old, she was being bullied. To cope, she started writing. Writing turned into journaling, and journaling turned into songwriting. Brooklyn explained how she has accumulated a lot of journals over the past 10 years. 

BK: I was getting bullied at school and the only way that I coped with that was by writing and journaling, which I thought was really cool because the moment I knew how to write and read, I did it, like I journaled. And pretty soon when I would watch videos of my favorite artists, I saw that they always had like these journals with like their thoughts and everything. So then I started writing music and I was like, “Oh, songwriting is journaling. This is how I can make music”, you know? And it was really cool because that seed was planted at a very young age. 

SS: As a musician, Brooklyn has settled into the genres of R&B and rap. After all, all of her favorite artists and musicians growing up were of that genre. Pop makes it into her rotation every once in a while, but R&B and rap have always been king. 

SS: Brooklyn’s creative process as a musician is intricate And all you artists and musicians listening to this podcast right now? Take notes.

BK: I think what helps with my creative process, where I start, is I always have to have a drink, so I'll always have like, water or like a tea, a hot tea, or always have boba. Like, I always need a drink, but I've definitely written a lot of things with boba. And then I'll start with stretching because I believe that, you know, if I can, well, obviously sound also resonates in our bodies, so as a singer, it's really important to stretch and warm up and then also warm up the voice, and then the process of songwriting, sometimes, I'll look back at old journals. I have a whole shelf of all the journals I've kept ever since I was 10, so now I'm 20. So 10 years later, I have a whole plethora of my own library right there next to me. So sometimes I'll pull old concepts or I have like a list of songs that are not fully finished that I can like come back to or sometimes I'm like, “I hate everything that I've ever written. I'm going to start from scratch. I'm going to go sit at my keyboard and I'm just going to try to see what comes up organically” or I'll hear one instrument or I'll hear one melody. It's just really sometimes, “okay, let me see what I can make out of this old thing” or ‘let me just see if I can create something new”.
[ MUSIC: “Main Character” ]

SS:  In her first single, cheekily titled “Main Character”, Brooklyn takes us on an emotional journey. She expresses how the combination of emotional lyrics along with the jovial tempo makes the song feel complete.

BK: It's crazy that I even released something out of what I was going through essentially. So, I mean, this might get a little dark and morbid, but, what I love about “Main Character” is that it sounds very jovial in the juxtaposition to where I was mentally and emotionally. At the time, I wrote it in September, I wrote it over the span of like 24 hours. Black lives matter had happened from the summer, and you know, we were already in the fall 2020 semester and I did 20 credits, so I was overwhelmed all the time. I was watching people on the screen that looks like me being killed. Now, that's nothing new, if you're black in America, like that's nothing, that's nothing new at all. But what was really unsettling was the friends that I've had that were other POC’s and white people from my whole life, you know, seven, eight, nine years of friendship, the way that they responded to Black Lives Matter was really unsettling. That's really sad because those kinds of relationships were part of my identity for so long, you know? Like those are your friends, that's your hometown, that's your people. And the way that they would respond to it was not as open-minded and not as woke. I hate using that word, but like woke was the only thing I could think of. And so what that did was that gave me a lot of anxiety, so I had a lot of all these multiple things affecting me at once, like a storm and I was so anxious all the time. As a result of my anxiety, I was dealing with derealization, which essentially is like, you don't recognize your reality is real. So I would wake up every day, go to class 20 credits, and I would stand in the mirror, brushing my teeth and I'd be like, “I do not like recognize that this body that I'm looking at in the mirror is me.” And I would look at my hands and I'd be like, “this doesn't look like me.” And I would like, look at pictures of myself and I would look at, you know, even inanimate objects on my desk and, what it was was I was like, “this life isn't mine.” Like, I felt like my life wasn't mine because I was seeing it being robbed and seeing the altercations of what I thought was my life flip, you know? And most people can relate to that. One day, I was on Tik Tok, I laugh about this now, but I was on Tik Tok, and, do you remember the trend that was like, “You have to start romanticizing your life. You have to start thinking of yourself as the main character.” And I was like, “Well, what does a main character look like?” We're given so many stories of POC’s, of people with different backgrounds, from different perspectives, and they're all main characters in that story. And I kept thinking to myself, like no one wants a main character that can't even recognize her reality. And I was like, “wait, that's actually kind of a cool concept. I'm not real right now, then I can be a different character in this song” and I was building this song essentially, where this person in this song was tired of her reality and she's anxious and she doesn't know what's going on, and she's like, “well I guess”, you know, “I guess I am”. This beat is by Tyler Jay, he's really cool, a very cool, cool, cool person to work with so when I first opened it, I swear, it was this weird thing that just like woke up inside me. If you listen to the beginning of it, it sounds like it's a sunrise. I don't know what it was about it, but it sonically sounded like hope and peace and comfort all in one. It sounded like a sunrise and when you associate a new day with something that means there's hope, like you can move on. So when I was writing it, I was really focusing on the cliches of like, “well, I'm not a fairytale girl and this is the real world I'm living. Like, there's no magic. I have to be realistic, but I don't even know where to start.” And I think that has a lot to do with where I'm at in my age, where I'm at in college, where I'm at in the world. To really write something like this, it basically was a way for me to reclaim my life because I said that it didn't feel like it was my own. So it was a way for me to reclaim my existence in the sole fact that I'm breathing and I'm here and I'm like real. And I want to someday say these words to myself. In the first chorus, “I guess I'm the main character” like the lyrics are, “I guess I'm the main character”. Then when the second chorus rolls around, it's like, “damn right I am'' like, “damn right I am the main character”, and that progression is really important because, you know, calling yourself the main character is like you're afraid of being egocentric. So that's, essentially, the birth of it, which I love because it's so juxtaposed by the… I think it's corny sometimes. “This is the real world”, you know what I mean? It's like, so cutesy and happy-go-lucky, and it's cliche, but I love it because of where it came from and its origin.”

SS: Brooklyn collaborated with Jozondi, a junior at LMU, and they created a song called “Voicemail”. “Voicemail” was greatly influenced by the Black Lives Matter Movement. 

BK: I mentioned people in my past were like, not really checking in on me. These people that I've known for my whole life had never once called me. That's why it's called “Voicemail” because I call myself in it and I tell myself the things that I wish that I heard from them because I never got those phone calls. I still have never gotten those phone calls. I still have never been checked on by half of these people and that still hurts, you know? One of the biggest things when digesting the news and talking to so many people about Black Lives Matter, it's like, I just don't understand how you don't support it. And, you know what, I've gotten to a point where I don't want to understand how you don't support it, because I'm not going to sit here and go through emotional turmoil as you try to negate my existence. Like, I'm good. So that was the thing is like, “I don't understand. I don't understand”. I wrote this song, talked to my producer about it, and I was like “yo what do you think?”, but like something's missing. I really, really, really want a male rapper. And I was like, I do not know anyone. So I was like, “damn well, I guess, I guess the song’s never gonna be made then.” I saw on my feed that Jozondi released a song called “Joker'' that was reflective of the Black Lives Matter movement. As soon as I pressed play on that video, I was like, “Oh my God, that's the voice. That's the voice. That's that exact tone quality, like his cadence. That is what I want on my track.” So I DM’ed him on Instagram and I was nervous because I've never had a conversation with him, not one conversation with him. Like, you know, we never had the formal meeting. So I was like, “yeah, I have this beat and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, here's my number”. We set up a call and we talked about it. I showed him my ideas and he was like, “that's sick”. And I was like, “yeah so, send me your part, in two days or however many days”, he's like, “bet I got you”. I received it and I was playing it with Jiro while we were on FaceTime and I was like, “this is insane”. This man's vocals are insane and if you listen to it, when I first heard it completely done, I was crying to myself because I was like, “oh my God, this sounds like a real song.” It's really weird to think of something that I created to be on Spotify still so many years later, but it's so cool because it sounded so fresh, you know what I mean? It felt really good to release it, it was fun working with Jozondi, he's a really great person. So I was super excited when it came out.
[ MUSIC “Voicemail” ]

SS: During a time where social distancing and isolation have become the norm, many artists and musicians have felt their creativity dwindle during COVID. But for Brooklyn, staying in has helped her realize that taking a break, a breather, or a pause, is okay. 

BK: Taking a break does not make you a failure. It doesn't mean that you're worthless. Doesn’t mean that you didn't do well. Doesn't mean that you're weak, doesn't mean that you're not strong enough to persevere; taking a break is sometimes what you need, you know? When I was around 15, 16, 17, I have these directors that would tell us all the time that if you take a break, then you're wasting your time and people are going to surpass you; people are always going to be better than you and that's really hard to hear. One thing is I was always so afraid, I will admit this now because anyone who's listening to this, I'm sure outside of artistry, you can relate. I was so afraid to take a break because I was afraid that I was a failure. That that would deem me a failure because if I don't take a break, then that means I was weak. I was a failure and therefore I'm not good enough to keep going. I was afraid to take a break because I was afraid that I wasn't good enough and that I was never going to be good enough. If you're not doing something sustainably and healthily, something is going to break. So it's either going to be you, or it's a break from this thing for now. For me, when I take breaks, that's when I become the most intuitive and the most wise, because I'm able to take a break, heal, do whatever I need to do to make sure I'm good. Self care is really, really, really important whenever, you know, you’re always constantly busy. Maybe I'll look at something from a different perspective because now I have the whole big picture. When you take a break, you're able to take away your focus from that one immediate circumstance and put yourself in the shoes of the greater picture of what you want or what you need to do next, and then I'm able to move. I think that's something that's so precious because taking a break comes with the accountability for myself, and that means that I trust myself because I trust that I'll be able to go back to work and be just as diligent and that's something that I think that is really, really, really, really, really, really important. There's times where I've done the 12 hour days and then there's times in quarantine where I also just was like, you know, I'm watching anime all day today, I'm going to get boba, I'm going to eat everything under the sun. I'm going to order in, I'm not going to use my phone. I'm just gonna watch TV all day and I think that is the most beautiful thing, because I'm productive in both forms. I'm productive in one, cause I'm taking care of myself and I'm productive in the other because I'm doing my craft, you know? I’m productive in both forms. It's a beautiful thing.
SS: So what’s next for Brooklyn? Well, she says that she ~might~ finally release an EP she’s had on lock for almost a year now. She's also learning how to produce music by herself and for herself has inspired her to create more and grow as an artist . So much so that on Friday nights on Youtube Live, she’ll be livestreaming weekly covering some of her favorite songs and taking requests from the audience. No plans, just vibes, so tap in!

SS: Alright Brooklyn, where can we find you? 

BK: Okay. My social is I'm going to just direct everybody to one, so it's much easier. So on my Instagram, which is @brooklyn.kelly.music. I have a link in my bio for my LinkTree, which has all my other links, such as YouTube, SoundCloud, Spotify, even Depop, if you want to shop my closet, that's an option. But yeah, you can totally tap in to any of my social medias, even my Tik Tok is listed there. I'm just going to direct you to Instagram, while you’re there, follow, DM that you listened to this and, “Hey, what's good.” And yeah, the rest of my links are underneath my LinkTree.

SS: Thanks for joining us today! I’m Simone Soublet, and this episode of This is My Jam  was brought to you by Agency LMU, the Bluff’s first independent student news source. This installment was edited by Myles Dement and produced by Raven Yamamoto and Nick Canchola with theme music brought to you by Dyalla. 

Graphic: Nick Canchola


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