Brooklyn indie R&B artist broox has been writing songs since she was six years old. Now, with two EP’s under her belt, broox is looking back on her early 2000’s childhood with a new perspective.
Earlier this month, broox shared the music video for “She’s Been Listening,” a song off of her latest Over Easy EP. Her voice floats over butter-smooth synthesizers and a mellow drum groove. The video is bursting with early 2000’s nostalgia, complete with colorfully mis-matched clothing, Pokémon cards, and a game of Twister. The music video gave broox the opportunity to reimagine her queer identity through the colorful lens of her childhood, along with a cast of women and non-binary actors, producers, and directors.
One of the shows that helped broox explore her identity later on in life was the 2004—2009 Showtime series The L Word. The series’ sequel, The L Word: Generation Q recently featured one of broox’s songs, “Low Key” in an episode, an experience that broox described as “humbling.”
I caught up with broox to learn how she fell in love with synths, how she expresses her emotions through music, and what it was like to hear one of her songs on her favorite TV shows.
How did you begin playing and writing music? When did you start making music as broox?
I grew up playing the cello, trumpet, and sax when I was in elementary and middle school, and then picked up the guitar and piano when I was eleven and started to write songs. I picked up producing when I was a sophomore in college and would make indie electronic instrumentals, when finally after I graduated college is when I started going by broox.
A lot of your songs are built around synthesizers; what draws you to synths? Are there any songs or musicians that you grew up listening to that have influenced your sound?
I think synths are the coolest musical invention ever. My mind cannot wrap around the amount of manipulation you can do to one single note and its sound — it’s infinite. I think what I like most about synths is seeing how far you can take it, how much deeper you’re willing to go, completely altering its sound and creating something of your very own. I think of it as if a sculptor is carving away from a rock or a stone, sculpting away, layer by layer, and the finished product being created from just a thought, an idea, a feeling alone. There have been so many artists, too many actually, who have inspired me: Sylvan Esso, Glass Animals, The xx, Odesza, Bombay Bicycle Club, Tom Misch, Toro y Moi, and Rhye to name a few.
You released your second EP Over Easy this fall; is there anything that you learned from releasing your debut EP Out/Through that influenced your approach?
I learned a great deal through my first EP, that with my second EP, I was more patient throughout the entire process when it came to doing it the right way rather than just rushing the whole thing, because while it can be an exciting process, wanting to put my music babies out there, I’ve found the value in quality over quantity. In other words, my approach to Over Easy was more laxed where I was able to find more joy in the process by not getting so caught up with the little things, which allowed me to look at the bigger picture.
The music video for the song “She’s Been Listening” is described as a “queer re-imagination of childhood.” Who did you work with to make this music video? What specifically about your childhood in the early 2000’s did you want to reconnect with?
When I began discussing it with my director, Sara Ravid, a good friend and NYU Tisch grad, along with our Costume Designer Ben Stevenson, and Production Designer Rosalie Neal, we talked a lot about our relationship to our queer identities, and how it’s shifted and changed over the years. We talked about that tender time of adolescence and the things that shaped it. We talked about hobbies, senses of style, and childhood crushes — we all had the hots for Janis Ian and Alyson Stoner. The concept from the video grew from there. We asked ourselves: knowing what we know now, what would we have changed? What do we wish we had done differently, or done more of? In the end, it all comes back to community. It was important to me to work with my own LBGTQ community to bring those questions to life.
How do you hold on to the carefree-ness or confidence of your childhood as an adult? Does music help you to stay in touch with your younger self?
For me, music is definitely the answer. I started writing songs when I was six years old about some real shit. I wasn’t really doing it for anyone else but myself. It was about the things that were going on around me and how I was feeling and processing. I think people lie everyday, including myself, but songwriting is the most honest thing I know. It helps me navigate some of the emotions I go through while also being able to let go — it’s a form of escape, and to me, that’s carefree. That’s why I always go back to music.
Your song “Low Key” was recently featured in an episode of The L Word: Generation Q. Did you watch The L Word growing up? What did the show mean to you?
I must’ve been 19 or 20 when I first discovered The L Word. I was just coming out and started to watch the series after it ended, so I binged through all 6 seasons in a matter of a couple months. I remember feeling seen and understood for the first time in a while. I was learning so much of this world that I was so excited to step into and explore — a world that started to feel more tangible. It’s as if The L Word was my queer night school that I was so exited to come home to. It was the first wave of seeing queer lesbian representation on TV, and now years later, as we step into a new decade and celebrating small victories and progress, I’m looking forward to seeing how Gen Q shows this diversity through this new, more inclusive series and creates more room for all types of queer identities with a fresh perspective and voice, and am beyond honored to be a part of it.
What was it like hearing your song on the show?
The amount of love & joy I felt in my heart ready to burst into a tiny little rainbow sparkles being surrounded by my closest friends. This queer community of mine has made me who I am today, shaping my music with their overwhelming unconditional support. From so much self-doubt over the years and having to re-build my confidence over and over again, to see, to HEAR my song, a song I made 3 years ago in my bedroom back home in Jersey, featured not just on any show but a show that was so impactful for me, had me on cloud 9 and think to myself: dreams really do come true, the catch is you just gotta believe in yourself and work (really) hard for it.
It’s humbling to not only be recognized for my music but to also be given the opportunity to share it with the world, especially as a queer woman and artist who grew up on The L Word and found solace in it years ago when I was first coming out. We need more queer women representation in this industry.
What’s one trend from your childhood that you’d like to see make a comeback in 2020?
Please, for the love of God, not Ed Hardy.