Havana Brown is a modern-day renaissance woman. Since she went supernova with her first single as a pop artist, the already phenomenally successful DJ has steadily taken over the charts as well as the clubs.
She has toured the world from Tokyo, to Paris to Miami and everywhere in between. She’s supported the likes of Britney, Gaga and Rihanna, has almost half a million Facebook followers and her own billboard in Times Square. All this before her first album.
Flashing Lights, her hotly anticipated debut album, is everything you would hope for from a trendhunter who is able to cherry-pick her collaborators. With super-producers RedOne, Afrojack, R3hab, Cave Kings, Carl Ryden and Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins at the controls, it combines dance-floor anthems with the freshest beats and Havana’s dark allure.
Already you’ll be familiar with quadruple-platinum hit ‘We Run the Night (Feat. Pitbull)’ – the little number that was reworked by US producer RedOne and went on to sell 2.5 million copies around the world.
RedOne is also behind the first single from the album, ‘Flashing Lights’. “He just comes into a room and effortlessly comes up with genius melodies and lyrics,” Havana grins of the man who has become her chief collaborator. The result is a smooth urban track with a nod to classic funk artists like the Isley Brothers and the Brothers Johnson. “There’s just something about the funk era that’s extremely sexy to me,” Havana admits.
Then there’s the gloriously cheeky ‘Big Banana’, which went double platinum in Australia and reached number one in the Billboard Club Dance Chart. Live, the crowd goes reliably nuts, stealing Havana’s best lines. “It was one of those songs where we thought, ‘Can we actually do that?’” she laughs of its euphemisms. The track is a collaboration with R3hab – one of the top ten DJs in the world – and includes a rap from Prophet, the singer of LA band 7Lions. R3hab also does the honours on ‘You’ll Be Mine’ – the feel-good pop hit from Havana’s 2012 EP, When the Lights Go Out, produced by RedOne.
The prowling ‘Ba*Bing’ is one of a few tracks created with songwriting team Luciana and Nick Clow, who have worked with Taio Cruz, Professor Green and Super Mal. While it’s got a rolling bhangra beat, it’s secretly named after Havana’s Yorkshire Terrier. “He’s the best dog ever, so he comes into the studio,” she coos of the furry hitmaker. “As we were writing the bridge, Luciana was calling him over – but she did it to the beat of the song.” The result is so insanely catchy, we predict ‘ba-binging’ will replace twerking before the year’s out…
As the title might suggest, ‘Last Night’ came kicking and screaming out of a wild evening. After a gig with rapper Pitbull in Perth, the party continued in his hotel suite. “He said, ‘I’ve got this track, what do you think?’” Havana says, laughing at the recollection. “He played it for me and I was like, ‘Bam! This is the jam!’ A couple of days later in Melbourne he set up a studio in his suite and I recorded the song over a beat from Afrojack. The song was actually featured on his album, but I liked it so much I wanted it on my album too.”
The Swedes have a long history of churning out excellent producers, and Carl Ryden sure is one of those. ‘Naughty’ is a sugary headrush of a song that’s unabashedly dirty on a closer listen. Compatriots Jonas Cave & Niclas Kings, aka Cave Kings, worked on ‘Warrior’ – a tough number that’s close to Havana’s heart. “There were many people who wanted to bring me down when I first started out,” she explains. “People tried to discredit me on the internet, and a lot of people wanted to believe it. There are still people out there who want to hurt me, out of their own fear, but you know what? I’m still here. I’m a warrior. What can you say now?”
‘Anyone’ and ‘No Tomorrow’ were recorded with Grammy award-winning producer Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins, responsible for some of the biggest R&B tunes of the past few decades. “When I first went to meet him there was a photo of him on the wall with Michael Jackson,” Havana remembers. “That’s a sign you’re on the right track. When I was growing up and dreaming of being a pop star, the type of songs he produced were the ones I loved. I absolutely paid attention to that kind of thing.”
Anyone who’s ever wondered, “Are you the one to save me?” can take their doubts to the dance floor with ‘Someone to Love’, which will get the emotion dripping from the ceiling. ‘One More Time’ continues the theme. “If you’re in a club and you see someone that you once thought was forever,” says Havana, “you want that feeling back again. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t got a car or a place to live, all you need is them.”
For Havana, music is all about having a sixth sense for what’s trending, and she chooses to evolve before her work gets a chance to become stale. “I’m feeling really confident that this album will make people feel happy and want to dance,” she says. “And then it will be time to try something different.” With everything she touches turning to platinum, Havana Brown is truly living the dream.