Music and Art In Your Backyard

Brown v. Board

Photo credit: Forrest Sutton

Photo credit: Forrest Sutton

Houston based, Brown v. Board's music is just as experimental and cathartic as his twin's, Kel Brown. In blending, jazz, electro-hiphop, and vintage sounds, Brown creates beats that are genre-defying. His personal mantra of finding beauty in the imperfect is inherent in each track he creates and it's only a matter of time before he starts to infiltrate your airwaves. See full interview below.

TEO: Hey Joshua, tell me a little about yourself and how you got into music

JB: "Born in Blue Island, IL. Came to Houston when I was a few months old and have been here ever since.

I really picked up the music from my parents. They've always been into funk and soul and dance music. Pops had a nice LP collection and what not, bumpin' Michael Jackson three or four times a day, it seemed like. The first instrument I remember playing was a recorder. Then I got a little more serious and started playing tone chimes in elementary school. Tried to keep it going in middle school with the trombone, but music teachers (like most teachers) are better at music than they are teaching. I lost interest in music. Time was better spent chasing girls or whatever. My uncle is a classical pianist. He bought me a bass rig when I was in the 9th or 10th grade. I quit the girls and went back into the music, just playing over records by ear. No serious study. I tried to play in a few bands and even played a few shows, but realized pretty quickly why most bands break up so tumultuously. All this to explain why I've been making sample based music in solitude.

TEO: Let’s start with your name. It’s pretty fascinating. How did you come up with it?

JB: Brown v. Board as some may/may not know was the deciding court case for public school race integration. I hate schools. My last name is Brown. So it's me going against what this system/society stands for in a sense. I make myself the supreme judge of what they dish out on the daily: utter garbage. It also is a reminder that self knowledge trumps all else. I'm going for my Hip Hop scholarship instead of their worthless piece of paper.

TEO: How would you characterize your sound? I get a Flying Lotus/Herbie Hancock vibe from what I’ve heard so far?

JB: You have a jazz ear my friend. Those are two righteous brothers. That would make sense because I used to work at Barnes & Noble in the music department. I probably played Herbie's Headhunters album 1,000,000 times at LEAST. Then when I would get in the car to go home, Cosmogramma or Los Angeles was in the cd player. As for the sound itself, there is a concept in Japanese called Wabi-Sabi which is an aesthetic based on the imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. This is what I apply to everything I create. I also draw heavily from zen: always keep it simple.

TEO: What is the process for putting together a track? How do you start building a beat? What influences that process?

JB: Open up FL Studio. Light some sage or palo santo. Sit down and put the music on. I'm sampling nothing but mp3s right now - not by choice but by necessity. You know it when you feel it. Whatever the day brings, that's what comes out. If it's raining, the beats will reflect that. If the sun is out, you get that. I have to find the sample, then the kick, then the snare - after that it's a wrap.

TEO: What has been the most challenging part of being a musician here in Texas? Are you able to find an outlet for your work?

JB: Bandcamp.com is universal. Soundcloud.com is universal. The only challenge is that the internet is full of subterfuge and irrelevant distractions. If you can cut through the bull, you can find some very dedicated listeners.

TEO: Did you always want to be a musician or was it something you fell into?

JB: Real talk, I was trying to be a pro BMXer. I used to be a metal head. Then was into punk. Then hardcore punk. Then grindcore. Quit BMX. Sold my bass. Got back into BMX. Quit again. Dropped out of college. Now I'm writing rhymes and making beats. Did I fall into anything? My perspective is no.

TEO: Where do you see your music or your musical career going? What is the next step for you?

JB: I don't know. And I don't want to know actually. If I don't focus on this step right here in this moment, the next step might be a stumble. Dreams may come, but I'm open to whatever: success and travel, stagnancy and indifference - even complete failure and ridicule.

They can keep the fame though.

TEO: Are there collaborations you have done that you loved? if not, are there any you are looking forward to: local or international artists.

JB: Right now I'm working on a record with my man Tåsi: https://youtu.be/_HJaFaE3yJ8

I've also made some tunes with him & Blakchyl.

TEO: Your brother, Kel, is also an artist of a different kind, do you influence each other’s work? in what way?

He told me that the music is a sound painting to him. He puts the beats on and goes in. His work is essential for my album covers.