About to Pop: J Brazil
By Nadine Cheung Posted Mar 4th 2010 10:00AM
Who: J Brazil
Video: 'Girl I'm Tryin'
Hails From: New York, NY
For Fans Of: Sean Paul and Matisyahu
Why He's About to Pop: J Brazil was raised in a strict Orthodox Jewish home where his father, a world-renowned Jewish composer, exposed the tenacious child to music at a young age. He learned to sing with his family and soon picked up the drums and piano on his own, penning his first song when he was 6. Eight years later, the death of J Brazil's mother caused him to run away from home and live on the streets. Life proved to be difficult, but the experience exposed him to genres of music, such as hip-hop, reggae and rock, which would eventually find their way into his signature sound.
J Brazil lived a nomadic, homeless life, using any cash he had to record music and fuel his career. At age 21, the New York native released his first album, but record labels weren't biting. Then, in 2009, J Brazil teamed up with producer Eric Sanicola and wrote 'Girl I'm Tryin,' the hit song that ultimately landed him a recording contract with Ultra Records.
Marrying his Middle Eastern and Hasidic musical influences with the sounds he soaked up on the streets, J Brazil has put a new twist on Cindy Lauper's classic pop song, 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.' The melody is kept in tact, but J Brazil alters the lyrics to come from the perspective of a non-committal guy, looking to have a good time. As 'Girl I'm Tryin' rises up the Billboard Dance chart and continues to get Top 40 radio play, J Brazil keeps his past close and his success in check. "Even at my darkest hours, I dreamt that this day would come," he says. "Music is what kept me alive. I owe it to [my mother] and myself to follow my dreams. So, I created my dream come true."
Five Questions With J Brazil:
Why did you name yourself J Brazil?
Funny thing is, the J part is more complicated than the Brazil part. My name is Yosef, translated to English, it's Joseph. Brazil on the other hand is a crazy story. I was born, and since my dad's last name was Brazil, so was mine ... ha ha. Can you imagine my stage name being Y Brazil? Y not?
Who are your musical influences and/or favorite artists?
Growing up not listening to the radio, my musical influences were my parents. Both my father and mother play musical instruments, including seven siblings who are also musically talented. My dad was the type who carried around a tape recorder in his pocket making up tunes while he carpooled. As embarrassed as I was, I was so happy when my parents bought me my own tape recorder to do the same.
Why did you choose to reinvent Cyndi Lauper's 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' for your song, 'Girl I'm Tryin'?
I want to say that it was and always will be a classic. I don't think I'm reinventing it, I'm just tryin to have fun bringing back a blast from the past.
How have your relationship experiences influenced your music? Any broken hearts?
The biggest heartbreak of my life was losing my mother as a child. It made it much harder to let people in, and music became my outlet. It helped me express all the emotions bottled up inside. On a lighter note, every person connects to music, whether it's pop, rock, opera, country or dance. Every couple has their song, every person has the songs they connect with. It can be warm or playful. There's a time and a place for everything.
You've lived in the streets, been on your own and fought your way up. What has kept you so determined and positive over the years of hardship?
Giving up was never an option. After the passing of my mom, the pain was so unbearable that I lost myself. Ironically, my mom told me when I was born the doctor said he saw a light around me. "Either he will be a doctor or a star, either way he will make a difference in this world." Being a doctor wasn't for me since I couldn't sit still for .03 seconds, and to be a doctor you need patience (Laughs), so I guess being a star was the only thing left for me to do.
How important is fashion to you as an artist?
Fashion is just another way to express your artistry. Right now, I feel a little wild ... don't mind my colors.
What's the craziest thing you've experienced during your career so far?
This! The build up. Watching all my hard work slowly pay off. Realizing that every drop of sweat and that all my annoying phone calls to everyone, and their mothers, worked. It worked! Sitting in the doctor's office finding out that I'm going to have a baby and literally ten minutes later getting a call that I've received a recording contract from Ultra Records. Having my friends call me from Los Angeles saying they heard my song on the radio. Having my family hear it. Getting my first Top 40 radio add. My second and third. Getting on the Billboard top 100 Dance airplay. I can't believe it. Is this real?
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