Elements Lakewood Music + Arts Festival was a time of growth, inspiration, and learning from those and the music around you. We took some time to sit down with extremely eclectic artist Tara Brooks, to see just what we could learn from her and her music and she truly did not disappoint. Whether she’s behind the decks in Berlin at Kater Blau, playing an intimate gathering on the playa at Burning Man, or simply nestled within the deep woods of Lakewood, Pennsylvania, Tara Brooks truly enraptures the crowd as she inspires a personal connection through her music and intricately crafted sets. While pushing past the conventional realms of genre – Brooks strives to stay true to her sound as she plays not what she should but rather what comes from within.
After making her debut on John Digweed’s imprint ‘Bedrock’ with her ‘Eunoia’’ EP, we were excited to sit down with Brooks to dive deeper into just what drives her authentic artistic prowess, ecentric grooves and stirring melodies. While juggling a packed schedule and enveloping crowds across the globe, Brooks fills us in on how she stays true to herself, her music, and her fans:
1. We know you are really busy with a packed schedule – shows all over in Denver, New York, Montreal, Miami Music Week plus many more, how do you find time for yourself through it all? What keeps you grounded and sane while you’re constantly on the move.
When I’m home, which is usually during the week before I takeoff on the weekends, I do a lot of intense hot yoga and pilates, and go hiking. I try to be super healthy, get a lot of sleep, and eat well too. With my schedule, the key is finding something like exercise that you really love. It’s a form of meditation that helps keep myself balanced and feeling really good so by the time the weekend comes, I’m feeling great. If you find something that you are connected to, like a type of yoga or activity or whatever makes you happy, it will make you feel better in everything you do.
2. We know that it’s your birthday this Sunday. One more year wiser – what is something you’ve learned about yourself or your music since your last birthday.
This year, and every year, feels like a huge year of growth and transition. I think this year the focus is on being a little bit more easy going, accepting, going-with-the-flow, pushing myself to get more creative and thinking outside of the box. With my production, I’m in a place of getting so inspired and trying to let go regardless of whatever is going on in the world; I’m trying to stick to the things that move me and just keep pushing.
3. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest Voyager remix?
That was really fun because Miyagi hit me up and he’s a beautiful producer, and I actually play at Kater Blau in Berlin sometimes, so it’s really special to be on the label. But the original track he sent me was just really beautiful, so when I had the opportunity to do the remix, it just flowed and I really enjoyed doing it. Usually, if you’re working on something over and over again, you get sick of it and you can’t really tell whether you’re starting to not like it or you’ve just heard it too much. But it was one of those tracks where you never get sick of it and I was like “Wow that’s how you know you really nailed it,” and I feel really good about it. It has done really well on the dance floors and the charts with hardly any promo.
When you put love into it and you’re working with amazing people, it just all works out.
4. You mentioned playing in Berlin, what do you find intriguing about playing there?
I’ve played in Berlin the last two summers and I’m sure I’ll probably be playing again in September. I find the vibes out there are very similar to the Burning Man vibes. People are so passionate about the music, it’s down-to-earth and very raw. It’s not pretentious, but rather easy going and has a lot of love. You can tell people are really there for the music. I really love that kind of vibe, where the parties go for three days straight sometimes, it’s a really special feeling.
One of my favorite things about playing Berlin is playing minimum 4 hour sets. Rather than here [the U.S.], where you get one to two hours. Over there you can really dive in and create a journey with your music.
5. In a current industry that has become somewhat oversaturated with new music constantly, how do you ensure that you are staying true to your sound while also making music that is refreshing and intriguing for your fans?
I feel like this goes back to what I said about continuing to believe in your sounds. For me, since I play so many different styles, I’m constantly looking for new inspiration. For example, if I go to the grocery store and hear a random sound or if I were to go to Panama or anywhere, it’s really just the environment I’m in that pushes me. When I go to Detroit, which is something I’ve been doing the last couple years, it’s really inspiring to me.
When you put yourself into situations where you hear all these new sounds, and experience new cultures, all of that reflects into what you’re playing and for me, it’s trying not to think, “Okay I need to play this for this reason,” and not be concerned about the genre.
I’d rather play music that feels good to me in the moment, continue to express, and not worry about what it is that I’m playing but more so, how does it feel while making it all flow? I get out of the ideas of genres, and just play what makes sense. Then, even if it doesn’t make sense, do something experimental.
6. You have had the privilege of working with some really great artists thus far and releasing on some really great labels, who is someone in the industry that you would consider maybe not an idol, but someone who has inspired you to keep pushing to where you are today?
Oh wow, there are so many of them! I will name just a few: DJ Tennis, he has been one of the most inspiring people, especially in just this last year, for so many reasons. Not only his music and production level but also who he is as a person – people like him who truly care and take time out of their own busy lives to give you feedback and a kind word on their music when they don’t have to be inspiring. I also feel that way for Jay Tripwire, and even my own best friends like Dance Spirit, Mr. C, and DJ Three. There are so many people that are such good people and really care about the music. They don’t have these massive egos and so who they are shines through.
Those DJs and this whole community have been so supportive of each other. I’ve been really grateful for people like them and DJ Tennis, that’s why they are doing what they are doing today, because of their good hearts.
7. You released your Eunoia EP earlier this year, can you tell us a little about the concept of the EP and the story?
I’ve been inspired by John Digweed from the very beginning. After I started DJing with him the last couple years, I said to myself that I need to make something for him. I knew that for someone like him who has inspired me so much for so many years, that anything I was going to make, he was going to understand me. I can’t just say “Hey I want to make this music and put it on Bedrock.” I can keep that in mind but it won’t work, all I can do is make music and whatever comes out, comes out, then I do my best to be myself and let go.
With John, everything feels really natural and he’s been really supportive. So that EP was something that reflected all my feelings and all the genres, kind of trippy-acid, melodic, slightly old school Bedrock meets today and the world. His label today is very diverse and whether I play a lot of its music or not it’s really just who he is as a person and his consistency, that what’s really inspiring to me.
I knew I wasn’t here to make music that wasn’t me or for my fans, I’m here to make my music to complement my fans and let other people be inspired by sounds that they can relate to but are still completely different. I like to stay unique, and learn – I want to be mind-blown by unique things – I don’t want to be hearing the same sounds, because then how would I grow?
8. It sounds like you’ve really been staying true to yourself!
It’s beautiful, but it is hard sometimes if you’re taking risks. My girlfriend that’s coming tonight, she calls me big balls (haha) because every time I play, I play multiple genres and things that are off the wall. Some people might be a little bit scared, and you never really know how the dance floor is going to react, but at the end of the day, I say if I feel it and I love it then that’s why I’m here. So you have to believe it and you have to just fucking play it.
Tara Brooks will continue to advance her ever-changing artistic prowess as her pure passion and eclectic soundscapes reverberate across the dance floor around the globe. For those looking to experience a true rhythmic breath of fresh air, don’t miss Brooks as she performs on Saturday, July 6th at the Brooklyn Mirage for Cityfox Arise, you don’t want to miss it!
Also, pre-sale for Elements Lakewood 2020 is available now! More info here: bit.ly/Elements2020_Presale