Every now and then you come across women in New York that are the epitome of the city’s “Downtown” culture; the daring, fearless, persistent female artists that migrate here to succeed in their craft. Born in Tulsa Oklahoma and raised in Maryland just outside of D.C., Ebony Brown is that girl. After spending 8 years modeling, doing commercials and music videos in LA, she moved to New York, wanting to feel her pulse again and has since developed a career as one of New York’s leading female DJ’s, spinning at hot spots such as La Esquina, Submercer and the Standard Hotel, all the while working on her first album with her new band, Panda Panda, which she hopes to have released this upcoming spring.
I asked her to meet me for a coffee at Café Gitane to find out more about her work, her inspiration, and her future plans… and also the story behind the mix that she made exclusively for Botkier inspired by the Fall and Holiday/Resort collection which we just debuted. (She’s mad about the Ava Hobo in black lambskin and the Haven Satchel in indigo!) Stop by Botkier NoLIta to pick up a copy of this limited edition mixtape with any Holiday purchase!
How did you end up becoming a DJ?
I ended up DJing because I have a really awesome record collection that I inherited from my mom, so when I lived in LA people would come over to my house to party, and I would just play records, but I didn’t have two turntables, I just had one.
When you’re not DJing, where do you like to go when you go out in New York City?
Right now…? (Short pause)… Kenmare. It’s so rock and roll. It’s kind of like what Beatrice Inn used to be, except for the ceiling is higher, and it’s not as smoky!
How did you get into making your own music?
I started in LA from being a model, I just didn’t feel like I got to express myself enough. I’m just an artist, I paint, I draw, I write, and I just felt like I wanted to use my voice. So I started experimenting… begging people who I knew were musicians to work with me.
What type of music influences you the most, not just as an artist but as a person?
I really got into grunge when I was in High School. I was like… a grunge girl. You could say grunge changed my life.
I went two different high-schools when I grew up, the first I went to was predominantly black and the second was predominantly white… I was a pom-pom in my first high-school, sophomore class president… very much the girl next door. But I didn’t feel like that inside. I had a lot of emotions, I didn’t know how to deal with, and listening to grunge helped me get in touch with those emotions. Singing along to it for the first time… I had a different voice.
Is there a musician or band that influences your own music?
The band Bad Brains, the thing I love the most about them is that they’re one of the hardest, fastest punk bands, but their string is so soulful. I’m hugely influenced by is Sade, oh my God… I really feel like she taught me how to be a woman. I think she says the things that we all feel as women, but we never want to say out loud, especially to the world! That takes so much courage.
What’s the story behind this mixtape you did for Botkier, what inspired you to choose the tracks you chose and the vibe you created with it?
Well, the name of the mix-tape is “Sophisticated Boom Boom”. It’s the first track and one of those rare gems from a 60’s girl group (The Goodies), that most people never heard of or forgot about a long time ago. When people hear this mix they are getting a sneak peek into the world of DJ Wildcat. It has some of my favorite songs that I love to dance to like “Heads Will Roll” by the Yeah,Yeah,Yeahs. Plus, classic tracks that I can’t live without like Eric B and Rakim’s “Paid in Full”!
I’m all about mixing genres old and new. Good music is timeless. When I spin, I like to have fun and give everyone a little “sumthin’sumthin’” to groove to! That’s why I was inspired to make this mix for Botkier. Botkier’s collection is very classy yet edgy. It has that “Sophisticated Boom Boom” that all women have inside.
-Interview and photos by Laksmi Hedemark. Check out Ebony’s website here.