Elizabeth Bruneau, AOL
From her stage name, to her first gigs as a female DJ in a male-dominated industry, to her fashion inspirations -- Havana is all about being strong, bold and independent. And oh yeah, she wants to make you dance, too! Check out our exclusive Q&A with Brown below!
What's the story behind your stage name?
Havana Brown is a breed of cat. I definitely wanted a stage name, because I feel like I'm a different person on stage. I feel like cats are strong, independent, they know how to get what they want. I love their attitude. I was looking through breeds of cats and Havana Brown is the first one I saw, and I said, 'That's it.' It's a rare breed, and at the time when I started DJing, it was very rare to see a female DJ. It was perfect -- brown skin, green eyes. And cats always land on their feet.
So what came first, the DJing or the singing?
I was always working on music, even before I started DJing. I was in London, and I was a part of a group. We just finished a whole album and were signed to Polydor Records, and then we fell apart after our first single. It was three guys and me. It was six or seven years ago, and we were doing R&B and Reggae with Dance music. One of the guys in the group was a DJ, and basically when we fell apart I was out partying quite a bit in the clubs. I was quite depressed and unhappy with everything going wrong. Going to the clubs was my escape. And then one night I felt that's what I should be doing, I should be that DJ. Because it was kind of annoying me that he wouldn't play songs for the girls. We want to dance! We're ready to party and he's not playing the right songs. And I thought I could do a better job! I went away, and I didn't pay rent for a few months and I bought some decks, the ones that they have in the clubs. That was the best investment I ever made.
Was it hard for you to get a gig as a female DJ in a male-dominated industry?
Absolutely. I started DJing six years ago and I don't think I knew of a single female DJ at the time. It was rare to see a female behind the decks. When I went to clubs and told promoters that I was a DJ, they'd laugh, and say, "Are you serious? Yeah, whatever." I was younger then, I was wearing miniskirts and dressing up ... being very young.
Well, your music video for "We Run the Night" is quite racy ... How much is the whole sex symbol thing a part of your act now as a singer?
I think women in general are just sexy beings. I think most females would say if they were to go to a strip club, they would rather see females than males. Girls are just sexy and there's nothing wrong with being sexy. If people have a problem with it, that's OK. I don't feel like I was trying to be too sexy, I was just being me. And if it comes across as that, then that's fair enough, but it's not me trying to put it on. It's not a tactic. It's a sexy song and sexy lyrics, and I was just feeling the track.
How was it going from admiring Pitbull and playing his music in clubs to actually working with him?
It's incredible, because not a lot of people know where he's come from, before he had all these commercial hits. I know all the tracks he's ever came out with and it wasn't always commercial hits. But in the clubs, it always made people move and dance. And I want to make music that makes people dance, and Pitbull is all of that.
You've already toured with huge stars like Britney Spears, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Enrique Iglesias, the Pussycat Dolls. What's your best memory from being on the road with these artists?
Every single one of them was amazing, but the Britney Spears was surreal. She's the biggest pop star in the world, she's iconic, legendary -- so to be a part of her tour and be with her backstage and see her with her kids, that was pretty amazing. Also, my last tour was with Enrique and Pitbull and I got to sing "Heartbeat" with Enrique, which was, "Ooo wee!" [fans herself] It was pretty amazing to get up there every night and sing with him.
As a club girl, what's your signature drink?
It's always vodka based, and this is me being sensible -- which is not really sensible -- but it's vodka and soda with fresh lime. And that's sensible because I'm having water with my vodka ... this is what I tell myself! [laughs] This is a little bit of a joke, but I'm getting hydrated at the same time! It's a good tip, right? I also like lychee martinis.
What's the first CD you ever bought?
This is going to throw everyone off, but Marilyn Manson's CD. I don't listen to his stuff anymore, but I went through a real grunge phase. I was obsessed with "The Beautiful People," so I went and bought the whole album [Antichrist Superstar], thinking I would dig it. That was a short period of my life! Also, Janet Jackson. I'm the biggest Janet Jackson fan. My boots are dedicated to Janet.
Speaking of those boots, you're quite stylish! Who, or what inspires your look?
I love Versace, the heavy gold. Balmain is also one of my favorite designers. I love the masculinity, and it's strong and bold, yet still very sexy and feminine at the same time. All the embellishments are perfect. I think it's the perfect balance of everything that I would like to embody. I want to be strong and bold, but I'm quite girly at the same time.