MJ's nephew says he wants his music to represent the past and revolutionary pop of today.
ESSENCE.com's "New and Next" column spotlights the brightest new talents we think you should know. This week we meet pop singer Austin Brown, who hails from one of America's most talented families, the Jacksons. The youngest son of singer Rebbie Jackson, Brown, 29, is working hard to create his own spotlight and not live in the shadows of his famous uncles. His debut single "Menage A Trois" boasts a fresh sound while paying tribute to the great sounds of the '60s and '70s.
ESSENCE.com: How would you describe the sound you create?
AUSTIN BROWN: It's really basic. I just take all of the influences that inspired me to want to make music in the first place and everything that I love and I give my interpretation of it. I kind of just talk it all in, whether it be past sounds from the Beach Boys, Songs in the Key of Life by Stevie Wonder, The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Ray Charles, all the things that inspired me that I listened to. My producing partner and I like to pay homage to the people, and then we go in on our own personal experience.
ESSENCE.com: How do you think your own family's music influenced you – particularly your uncle Michael Jackson, and the Jackson 5?
BROWN: They influenced me a lot. Not even just from standpoint of the work ethic and their drive for excellence and always trying to give their fans something new and exciting to look forward to, but their overall sound, harmonies and melodic changes. How they brought the energy. Their CD's would have so much energy, and when you saw it on stage it was like, "Yes!"
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ESSENCE.com: How has your family responded to you making music? Have they been very encouraging?
BROWN: Yeah, actually they've been really encouraging. At first my mother at first didn't want me to, but I think she was just being protective. When you have a love of something no one is going to stop you from it if you are truly passionate about. And they see me finding myself in it more so. So it's nothing but encouragement from my entire family.
ESSENCE.com: Does being a Jackson make it easier to go into the music business?
BROWN: Well, I think you will obviously get people's curiosity but that's really it because people have such an attachment to a sound and the nostalgia that they have grown up with, like the Jackson 5 starting in the late 1960s. So I would completely understand why some people might be reluctant, you know, thinking that there might be an entitlement issue. And it's not that by any means and I don't think I really have to say that. I think once they sit down and listen to the music and see what I am really about they see that's it much deeper than that.
ESSENCE.com: Looking at the musical landscape now, where do you think you fit in? Who do you think is pushing the same agenda that you are?
BROWN: I would say Drake is doing a really great job. And Bruno Mars and their crew are always doing an amazing job of soulful pop feel. And there's people like Jack White who continue to push their creativity to a whole another level. And so many other musical greats that I look up to and am inspired by. Kanye West is always somebody who doesn't hide different music styles that he tries to put into his sound.
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ESSENCE.com: Where can people see you performing?
BROWN: I will be hitting up a few festivals coming up shortly this year and we will be announcing more tour dates on my website coming up so it's a lot of performing. A lot, lot, lot of performing. And that's pretty much what it's about. The main thing that we are pushing right now is my "Menage" single and video which has been getting some really good love so I'm really excited an happy that people are being receptive to it and wanted to check it and see what I'm really about.
Check out Austin Brown's debut singe "Menage a Trois" and let us know what you think.