In the inaugural Featured Soul column, I’m chatting with the emerging musical force, Brielle. This Philly-based artist is a perfect example of what your mama has been telling you since you were small—beauty comes from within. From her haunting vocals, to fabulous personal style, and love affair with science and the multiverse—this chick is truly a leader to watch. Read more below for Brielle’s thoughts on her newly released EP, The Rough Break-Up, along with views on spirituality, community activism, life-changing books, and more.
Amanya Maloba: First, tell me about when you decided that you wanted to pursue music professionally and what inspired that decision?
Brielle: Well, I’ve always been musically inclined through playing an instrument and singing from a young age, but college was really when I decided to seriously pursue my artistry. My freshman year I went to Saint Joseph’s University for biology where I quickly discovered that as much as I loved medicine, my passion for music was where I saw my life’s work heading.
AM: Who are some of your musical influences?
Brielle: My parents both had such a wide musical collection that my musicality is all over the place. I listen to just about everything, even a bit of country now (chuckles). My dream collaborations would be with Earth, Wind & Fire, John Mayer, Nick Hakim and Jamie Woods. I’d also love to work with Pharrell, Erykah Badu, and, of course, the late and great Amy Winehouse if she was still present.
AM: Aside from music, where in your life do you feel the most creative?
Brielle: Aside from music I’m very passionate about science and how the multiverse works. I’ve been working on a theory about spacetime relativity and projection for quite some time, hoping to illustrate to other life forms the importance of our connections.
AM: Tell me more about the process of making The Rough Break-Up—Did you have a set vision for the project or did it evolve throughout the process of making it?
Brielle: This project has definitely evolved, and not how I had ever expected it to. Initially, I released some of these songs almost two years ago on a project titled The Cycles of Lyfe. I co-produced the entire thing with an old classmate, but had my work stolen and was forced to remove the project from the internet. I took some time off after that to figure out what direction I would go in and less than a year later I decided to pick the project back up and remake all the music, while adding new material.
This time around I co-produced the majority of the project with a different producer. We worked so well together, but the catch is we dated. We broke up, but continued to work together until my new relationship proved too much for him to handle. Out of bitterness and spite he deleted ALL my project files. I was planning to re-release all the old songs, and new material under the original name, but given my new unfortunate series of events I decided to fight for the music and release my rough mixes, hence the title, The Rough Break-Up.
So, as far the project direction it changed so much because my life changed. It definitely wasn’t how I envisioned completing the EP since I’m a perfectionist, but I’m proud of myself for not giving up on something I was so passionate about! Some songs that were supposed to be on the project may never see the light of day, but who knows they’re in the archives for a rainy day.
AM: What’s your favorite song off the EP?
Brielle: I love all the songs, naturally, but “144,000” speaks me to most because it’s my mantra and life mission to heal and teach the message of the multiversal purpose of us all.
AM: “144,000” has such an epic sound and soulful message. What does the number represent?
Brielle: 144,000 is a numerical representation of a group of people, it’s a frequency, it’s a lifestyle, it’s a message, it’s a mission—it’s so many things wrapped into one number, but ultimately it represents all of us at the same time. The 144,000 is about being a multiversal healer, creating balance where there is imbalance and educating others about purpose, true self-identity, and the importance of our universal connections to one another. In a world where there is much chaos, systematic crippling, destruction, and mental disease, it is important to maintain our true selves and our inner light so that we can be a true reflection of the divinity that we all are. When we are able to acknowledge our power and access the light within we are able to vibrate at much higher frequencies becoming more intune with all things. These multiversal connections can be exemplified by the Fibonacci Sequence or the golden ratio.
AM: Is there an overlap between your musical style and your sartorial style?
Brielle: I think it’s all connected, and as I progress musically I’m sure my style will continue to evolve as well. I just wear what I like, but I’m really into cloaks/capes, layering, and making my own clothes. I study a lot so often you will see me walking around with handpainted shirts with symbols that speak to me or the equations I’m using to aid me in my spacetime theory.
AM: Is there a difference in how you dress while performing vs. offstage?
Brielle: Not really, I’ve never been an “Oh, I gotta pile it on for the stage” kinda performer. It’s just a day-to-day decision. One show you might catch me glammed out, the next I might be thuggin’ it like a tomboy…you never know. The same goes for my offstage life as well.
AM: Do you have any style icons (past or present)?
Brielle: I’m inspired by a collage of styles, but one person that has inspired me lately is my fiancé. He has his own clothing brand, Righteous Rebel Denim & Apparel. I also like HBA, Gwen Stefani, and Bishme R. Cromartie. They all have very different styles, but I like things about each one of their artwork.
AM: Do you think about what you wear, listen to, or read differently since having a child?
Brielle: Definitely, but not in the ways you’d expect. Before I had my son I cared more about others’ opinions on what I wore, but now I feel like I can express myself 100 percent and not feel sorry or bad about it. It’s like having someone that loves you unconditionally makes you more confident. However, there is a difference between being open and setting a poor example for your child. I’m definitely not gonna walk out the house in booty shorts and a crop top with my child, but onstage if the outfit is a little wild and fits the vision, that’s art to me and I will do that.
AM: What’s one item of yours that you would never sell?
Brielle: My flute. I really love her and we can’t go a day apart, but if we are talking clothes I can’t get rid of any of my vintage dresses, especially my ‘50-’70s pieces—that would be the ultimate sin.
AM: What is one book that made you question yourself or view something in your world differently?
Brielle: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and Return to the Center by Bede Griffiths are two books that really changed my views on life and universal existence. I think those books opened me up to who I really was and my ultimate purpose. Also, The Gospel of Hip Hop by KRS-One taught me how to really make my art a lifestyle and not just a career.
AM: What’s currently on your bedside table?
Brielle: I’m currently reading Energetic Anatomy by Mark Rich. It’s a book about using your HES ( human energy system) to its fullest potential. The book gets into meditation, chakras, meridians, and our inner source of light—very resourceful and guiding. If you are into self-healing and spirituality this book is for you!
AM: What’s next after the Rough Break-Up?
Brielle: I’m working on some community projects in Philadelphia at the moment, teaching self-sustainability, healing, and successful anarchy. On the musical side of things, I am working on my next project and planning my first overseas tour.