“I remember the first week we raised way more than I thought we would and I kept randomly bursting into tears of joy.” With these candid words, Brooke Howard gives us a glimpse into the authentic emotion and gratitude she holds for her journey and her fans.
Brooke’s latest release, “GIMME” featuring lye.ll, confirms her evolving artistry. It’s a cool, catchy track that ensures you’re bobbing along, while her vocals serve up a sassy, zeitgeisty tone that’s distinctively her own. Rooted in her own experiences and diverse influences, Brooke presents an image of an artist both reflective and forward-thinking. And what’s more thrilling?
The premiere of “GIMME” is today! In our interview, we talk with her about her inspirations, ther upcoming album ‘Witch Trap’ and her connection with her growing fanbase.
header photography by David A Solorzano
Who were your biggest inspirations growing up, and how have they influenced your music?
Oh boy, I still feel like I’m growing up. The list of influences is so long I’ll try to narrow it down a bit. I was always such a sponge for music. As a child we had a lot of music playing in our house. Oldies, Pop music, Country, anything you could dance to. My sister and I would stand on the fireplace and put on shows for anyone who would watch.
In high school I would go to the library and rent random CDs just to explore all the different types of music, from Hip Hop & R&B to Punk and Jazz and everything in between.
Growing up in the 2000’s I was definitely inspired by the Pop Divas and was constantly practicing their high notes and riffs. And when I moved to Los Angeles I got really into dance music, so you can see I quite literally draw inspiration from all genres. These days, I’m incredibly inspired by Labrinth. I love everything he does and was fortunate enough to see him live this year.
“GIMME” encapsulates a vibe of sexy sass and playfulness. Can you share a story that sparked the initial idea for this track?
The night we made GIMME lye.ll, Kirk and I had a session, and it had been a while since the 3 of us were able to be in a room together. It was such a fun creative night. We made “Hallucinating” and “Creep On” that night as well. As soon as Kirk and Lyell made the beat for GIMME ideas started flowing for me and I pretty immediately wrote a large chunk of the song. Simultaneously Lyell had been inspired to write and we ended up combining our 2 ideas into one song. It’s stayed very close to the original form, minus adding in my middle verse just before submitting for release.
“Growing up in the 2000’s I was definitely inspired by the Pop Divas and was constantly practicing their high notes and riffs.”
Let’s talk about your upcoming album ‘Witch Trap’. Is there a track that holds a special place in your heart or one that was particularly challenging to create?
“Crawlin” was the song that pretty much started the entire Witch Trap project and will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s such a fun and empowering song that I feel captures my essence. We played around with all kinds of different production choices, but in the end stayed pretty close to the original recording. We made Crawlin the night I released my first single ever “Morning Night” so that’s also a lovely memory.
There is also a song called “JAGGER”, named for my cat. It began with me yelling at him because he was trying to steal our chips. It’s such an LA song, a bit of a love note to making music in Los Angeles with friends.
“Witch Trap” appears to delve into themes of self-discovery and connection. Did creating it lead you to any unexpected self-discoveries?
So many. These past few years have been full of so much growth and change. I don’t think any of us were prepared for what happened in 2020. When I was a kid I was so confident and just blindly chased after my dreams no matter how outlandish they seemed. I think over time that confidence and ability to just go for it was beaten out of me. But, I think this process has helped me rediscover it. Because if I don’t follow my dreams now, then when?
“… Because if I don’t follow my dreams now, then when?”
How does your approach to songwriting change when collaborating with different producers and artists?
It’s so much easier once other people get involved. Some songs, like “Magic” I’ve written totally alone and then I take them into the studio and we build the production around them. When we are all in the room together there’s so much energy and inspiration, things flow so quickly and organically. I’ll be stuck on what to say at a certain point in a song and Kirk will say “what if you say, but not back to you” and it’s the totally perfect line I may not have thought of if I were alone.
And how do you decide on your collaborations, like with lye.ll and others, and what do you think is crucial for a successful musical partnership?
It has to be fun. I think Lyell and Kirk really understand the type of music that inspires me, in some ways better than I do myself, there’s a sort of indescribable connection we all formed pretty much instantly. Lyell and I work on a bunch of music together, both on our own projects, for sync, and for other artists – we love what we make together!
“I’ve always been very attracted to the water even though I almost drowned as a child. It’s still a cleansing, calming source for me.”
Raising over $12,000 from your first Indiegogo campaign is no small feat! How has engaging with your fanbase and community shaped your approach to music and your career?
It was so cool!! I remember the first week we raised way more than I thought we would and I kept randomly bursting into tears of joy. I couldn’t believe how excited people were and how much they wanted to help make my dreams come true. I still keep some of the notes people sent me on my fridge as a daily reminder. I also feel like knowing other people are invested helps me keep going on the days when I feel doubtful or less motivated. Having some financial backing also made it possible to make some visual art, and marketing campaigns that I’m really proud of.
I love your underwater images! Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this enchanting photoshoot and its connection to your new music?
Thank you so much! I love them too. Ideally we will have a show one day where we feature all the single art by David Solorzano, Daniel Leeds, and Adaeze Njaka, on display. A sort of combination concert and gallery. I feel so grateful for the incredible visual artists who helped me with this project. I would usually go to them with some crazy idea I had no clue how to execute and they made it happen above and beyond my expectations. The idea for the underwater photoshoot actually came about on our first shoot for “Moon”. David Solorzano, the photographer, and I both had always wanted to do an underwater shoot. I knew for “Lavender“ I didn’t want to do the obvious visuals and have lavender flowers and colors. We felt like the underwater image was the exact right vibe, the ethereal surrender before a radiant rebirth. I’ve always been very attracted to the water even though I almost drowned as a child. It’s still a cleansing, calming source for me. My life goal before music was to be a mermaid so I’m sure there’s a connection there.
Thank you so much for your time!