Talented dance music producer and DJ Brenmar showcases a unique mixture of house, hip hop and R&B music stemming from his Chicago roots. He’ll be spinning the Lights Down Low party with locals 5kinandbone5 on the legendary soundsystem at 222 Hyde this Saturday, July 14.
We caught up with Brenmar following a weekend DJing in Toronto while he was back in Brooklyn killing some time before a studio session with hot new R&B songstress Jasmine Solano.
Growing up in Chicago what was your music background?
I came of age in the nineties so there was music everywhere in Chicago, still is. House, pop, hip hop and R&B – they’re basically what I grew up on.
I remember dancing to Madonna and they would play something like [Cajmere’s] “It’s Time for the Percolator” after that. I was like 8 or 9 but I remember dancing to it.
Later in the 90s it was all juke and that got really popular among the teenagers.
Being from Chicago and living in New York now, what’s the difference between making music in those two cities?
It’s a lot more expensive to make music in New York. laughs But there’s more opportunities to play and get heard than there are in Chicago.
Your production sound is similar to music being released in the UK. What influences that?
Grime was some of the first stuff I heard coming out of the UK in like 2005-2006. They’ve also always had a really progressive dance music culture, they like weird shit. That just naturally appealed to me because I’ve always had an inclination toward the same.
What I make definitely has elements of UK dance and I try to put my own American spin on it. I combine my love for regional dance music but it’s all underground dance music at the end of the day. I play music from Lisbon, South Africa, the UK, all over America and Mexico even, to name some.
The mixes you make are as well known as your productions. Did you get your start as a DJ initially?
Yeah I started off as a DJ when I was 14 – I got turntables, a mixer, everything. Then I got my first sampler when I was 15 and have been making beats since then. The beats kinda took over for a few years. I sorta set aside DJing and just used my turntables to sample.
At about 18 I stopped DJing completely and just wasn’t interested in it anymore. I even moved away from making solely sample-based beats and started getting into playing drums, bass guitar and bands. I made new friends and they introduced me to jazz, indie rock, punk and other shit.
I was in a band for a few years and we toured a bunch from 21 to 23 or so. Then we broke up and I had kinda had enough of that and got back into DJing about three years ago.
Your mixes are known for being solid dance music from start to finish including your most recent mix for Fact Magazine.
Brenmar “FACT mix 335 (Jun ’12)”
Yeah I worked really hard on that mix. I’m always trying to have a party. Don’t overthink it, it’s just dance music. That’s the last thing you want to do. You don’t want to be analyzing what the DJ does every 5 seconds, just try to vibe out.
You make all kinds of sexy music, do you think of yourself as a sex symbol in the underground dance music world?
Javeon McCarthy “Precious” (Brenmar Remix)
laughs Nah, I just make music I like and I also make music for the girls and hopefully they appreciate that.
Lights Down Low presents Brenmar and 5kinandbone5 Saturday, July 14 at 222 Hyde. Presale tickets are advised. More info.