Michelle: “Being rejected is a good thing ”

What I actually am working on building right now is growing the annual charity music festival, Purple Palooza, that I founded for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network San Antonio Affiliate. I lost my grandfather and greatest musical influence to pancreatic cancer when I was 13 and have been a board member with this organization ever […]

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What I actually am working on building right now is growing the annual charity music festival, Purple Palooza, that I founded for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network San Antonio Affiliate. I lost my grandfather and greatest musical influence to pancreatic cancer when I was 13 and have been a board member with this organization ever since. Pancreatic Cancer is the least acknowledged and funded cancer compared to the organizations yet is the most rapid acting cancer as well. So many people actually die within weeks of diagnosis. My goal is to use my Paw Paw and my shared love of music to reach as many people as possible to help fight this disease. I aim to grow this festival every year to become nationwide known in San Antonio just as Mala Luna has become. I would hope this could lead to many networking opportunities for upcoming artists as well.

As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Brooklyn Michelle.

Brooklyn Michelle is sure to take the industry by storm with her unique sound. From founding a charity festival, to bringing her raw battles and authentic emotions with her on her honorable journey, she is quickly becoming one to watch.

Using her music as a coping mechanism, this San Antonio, Texas-based musician started writing her own songs and performing at the young age of 12. After years of struggling with undiagnosed diseases that led to mental illness, Brooklyn quickly put pen to paper and used music as the expressive outlet she needed to move forward in life. This was the creative process to her debut album, Lithium, which was a “beautifully chaotic” seven-year testimony to living with untreated Bipolar disorder.

Currently, Brooklyn is set to release her long-awaited second album early 2021. Continuing to use her music as a creative outlet based off of personal experience, the album will focus on the struggles of falling flat on one’s face and growing after a fallen relationship while dealing with the every-day struggle of a very serious mental illness. Contrary to her first albums contrasting moods, this album will follow the story through its tracks, providing a harsh reality at the start that eventually blossoms.

Brooklyn is also in the process of starting her own production company, Waffledog Productions. Inspired to bring her vision to life, she has taken part in directing and editing all her music videos to date, including her upcoming single, “Retail Therapy.” Alongside director of photography, Jacob Glombowski, they are eager to get the company off the ground with other artists, with goals to eventually produce TV shows and movies.

After losing her grandfather, who strongly influenced her music career, to pancreatic cancer at the age of 12, Brooklyn quickly joined as a board member of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network San Antonio affiliate. She has since founded the Purple Palooza festival, an annual charity event to raise awareness and funding to fight the deadliest and least acknowledged cancer. She founded the festival as a way to involve her grandfather in her music and hopes her part in the music industry will eventually grow the festival nation-wide.

When Brooklyn is not expressing herself through music, she is practicing her art on canvas in her own art studio, specializing in figurative realism. Her available artwork can her found here. Outside of the artistic realm, Brooklyn enjoys returning to her old job in assisting dogs in need of medical attention or staying home and streaming her favorite game, Call of Duty, on Twitch.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Growing up, I had suffered from numerous undiagnosed autoimmune diseases which we didn’t fully figure out what they all were until I was 22 years old. I was constantly throwing up, passing out, breaking out, losing excessive weight and hair, and just feeling miserable for so long. We eventually discovered the root of all of my developed diseases has come from my MTHFR disorder meaning my vitamins cannot metabolize properly on their own and I have a blockage that doesn’t allow enough folate to get to my brain. If your vitamins cannot metabolize, none of your bodily systems can function properly which leads to one system attacking another and the development of more mental and physical diseases. Between some childhood mental abuse, gradually becoming more and more sick with age, and dealing with undiagnosed bipolar disorder definitely lead to the need for an outlet. Between the ages of 20–22 was the darkest point in my life. I mentally and physically could not handle living in my body anymore. Thankfully this breaking point lead to me finally finding treatment (that actually works) and just a year later, I’m feeling better than I ever have in my life.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

My mom put my brother and I in a few different activities growing up; soccer, basketball, gymnastics, but piano is the one I took to and stuck with. I eventually learned some guitar, ukulele, and drums as well, but I tend to stick to piano the most. When I was younger, I would take my guitar with me every time we went to my grandparents’ house because my Paw Paw would always request I play for him after dinner. He was a guitarist himself, so this was really how we bonded. Every visit I made sure to have new songs learned to impress him and eventually started writing my own too. He saw a career in my music and was really the one who pushed me into wanting to pursue this professionally. After he passed away, I promised to keep at it. I started going to vocal coaching, learned production, and even majored in Sound Recording Technology. I’m so happy I listened to him and I hope I’m making him proud.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

As cliche as it sounds, I think the most interesting thing is just the fact that I’m still alive. Between my auto immune issues, the few scarier manic and depressive episodes I went through before getting the right treatment, and the excessive self-medicating for so long, I probably should’ve died numerous times. I was really playing with fire there for a few years. It’s so weird to look back at my life, just a year ago, and how I really wanted to die and thought about ending it myself most days. 2019 was by far the lowest I’ve ever felt and now I’m already meeting amazing people and achieving goals that I either thought would be way further down the line in my life or just wouldn’t ever happen for me. I’m happier now than I have ever been. It’s so interesting in what just a few months of dedication can actually lead you to.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I’ve made was shooting the entire music video to “Voodoo Doll” that I planned out, wrote a very detailed script for, hired choreographers and dancers, rented furniture (a literal throne), and bought excessive amounts of clothing for wardrobe all just to trash the footage and reshoot 3 years later. The fact that I blew so much money on the music video is not funny but watching the old footage definitely is. My director of photography and right-hand man for all my videos, Jacob Glombowski, and myself were both so new to the process in general. This was our first video together and we were really winging it. I had never been on camera before with a crew and had no clue how to present myself or perform and Jglom basically had the camera on a tripod the whole time, so the shots were very still along with me just sitting still. The original footage is so awkward and uncomfortable to watch haha but luckily, we came back 3 years later and killed it. It turned out to be such a cool music video.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

I think it’s important for the development of children’s mindset and confidence in themselves. A lot of the way we see ourselves and navigate through life as adults still stems from what we experienced as children. They should be able to relate to the content they ingest. It’s harder for a child to watch a TV show if none of the characters on the show look, sound or feel like they do. They may feel detached from the story lines, character’s friendship dynamics and even the show’s humor. Kids also need to be able to realize at a young age that their dreams are obtainable. The fashion and modeling industry for example used to have the beauty standard to just be the skinny white woman. That is all people would see in runway shows, magazines and ads. Today the industry, thankfully, is much more diverse, so all kinds of children can feel included and know they have the option to thrive in that career path. And lastly, there’s no need for a child to feel inferior to anyone else. I notice in a lot of TV shows they try to make the show more diverse by including minorities in some supporting roles. And if they are the main character, a lot of the time the show is strictly dedicated to focusing on the hardships of that character’s life. Which is okay, of course, to have shows like this to show the harsh realities of what our society unfortunately is still like today, though I think children also deserve their own identity’s main character in lighthearted TV shows to grow up with. We all need our comfort shows.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m currently working on my sophomore album. This album is a story of how I had to fall on my face, pick myself up and grow after a failed relationship. Rather than contrasting in moods every song as my debut album “Lithium” did, this one more starts out ugly and blossoms over time. Music is very hard for me to listen to when I’m sad as I let the lyrics of songs get to me too much if I don’t reside with them. So, I’m hoping this can be a comfort album to other broken hearts and help them heal along with me. Another exciting project I’m working on is actually starting my video production company Waffledog Productions. I produce all of my own music videos (other than “Cold”, the animated one by Chaz Draws) but “Retail Therapy” is the first one I actually included the “Waffedog Productions” in the title slide. This is my favorite music video thus far and I hope others are equally excited about it and will also want their own video produced by my company as well.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each

It’s never ever going to be perfect — I am such a perfectionist when it comes to my craft that it actually sets me back a lot of the time. I will spend so long analyzing and trying to slightly fix a tiny detail of a song, a piece of art, or video and forget to step back and realize it’s literally just a tiny detail. You gotta look at your projects as a whole and realize how great they are and appreciate the minor flaws. As Bob Ross says, “Only happy mistakes.”

Being rejected is a good thing — There are so many times that a plan I wanted so badly didn’t work out for me because someone said no, or life got in the way. I let myself get so down about it when something 10 times better was right around the corner. You have to learn to accept that sometimes you’re being rejected from a path because God has something way better in store for you. You just gotta be patient and have faith.

Do not trust those who overpromise — Something I used to do was let myself get too excited when someone started talking me up and selling me pipe dreams. I wouldn’t take the time to analyze the situation realistically and would jump in too soon just to end up getting scammed. Don’t be too embarrassed about it though. We all fall for it at some point.

Working with someone for their “clout” won’t get you anywhere — This is similar to the pipe dreams scenario. I’ve let myself get excited about famous or the “I know so and so” people that wanted to work with me because I thought it would take me to the top right away. Just to once again get scammed or stabbed in the back by the people who claimed they wanted to help me. Don’t go out of your way to try and work with someone specifically with the intentions to climb a latter because it will not lead you to a genuine place and you’ll pretty much get what you deserve. Make genuine relationships with people you have real interest in collaborating with and once again God will take you where you’re supposed to go. And I cannot stress enough to please just be yourself. Don’t be a weirdo.

Save every single one of your receipts — When you’re a starving artist, we all know that we can nickel and dime ourselves to death with what we spend on our projects. For the longest time I did not realize how much actually applies to our careers that we can write off later for our taxes. Gas money from driving to a show out of town, the meal you ate at a restaurant in that city, the clothes you buy for performances, videos and photoshoots, your tattoos (yes they count as your image), any equipment you need, makeup, graphic designers, studio time, set design, etc. Every single time you buy something you need to stop and ask yourself, “Does this apply to my music career?” and save that receipt.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

If a certain tactic isn’t working, don’t keep doing it. So many of us get excited about releasing music and assume once we put it out there, people will just listen to it. We get bummed out when not as many people did as we thought and assume the next release will do better. The quality of the song has nothing to do with the attention it’s getting is the first thing you have to realize. Which is sad but that’s the social media world we live in. You need to create a roll out plan for your releases and find multiple engaging ways to grab your audience’s attention before and after the release. Your supporters support you because they feel involved in your craft, so find a way to keep them involved and excited. Unfortunately, if someone doesn’t feel like they can get something out of supporting you, they usually won’t want to. Also, if a plan you made is working, keep in mind it might get boring to your audience if repeated over time and lose their interest. With every release you gotta switch something up to keep people engaged. Change your promo tactics, change up your visual’s style, do a contest or a giveaway. Social media has made society’s attention span so short, so you have to keep someone excited in a new way with every release.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

What I actually am working on building right now is growing the annual charity music festival, Purple Palooza, that I founded for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network San Antonio Affiliate. I lost my grandfather and greatest musical influence to pancreatic cancer when I was 13 and have been a board member with this organization ever since. Pancreatic Cancer is the least acknowledged and funded cancer compared to the organizations yet is the most rapid acting cancer as well. So many people actually die within weeks of diagnosis. My goal is to use my Paw Paw and my shared love of music to reach as many people as possible to help fight this disease. I aim to grow this festival every year to become nationwide known in San Antonio just as Mala Luna has become. I would hope this could lead to many networking opportunities for upcoming artists as well.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Well, first I am most grateful for my mama. It’s so rare that music artist’s parents support their choice in career path, but my mom is so excited about everything I do and wants to watch me grow. She has helped me figure out ways to work on music with the maximum amount of time possible while still continuing to make money along the way. After I was forced to drop out of college from major health issues, my mom made me realize I could take my high school side job of pet sitting to another level and start my own pet sitting service “Sit and Stay”. I take care of many sick and disabled dogs that need 24/7 attention for families around San Antonio. I take them to physical therapy, do their work outs at home with them, stay on top of the medical schedules, and I get to work on my music in their homes all at the same time. The majority of the dogs I work with will end up sleeping by my feet while I’m working on a song on my laptop. Then, when my ears need a break is around the time the dogs want to play. It’s turned out to be really good money. She even encouraged me to take my painting to a professional level as well and I did not realize how many people would be interested in buying my paintings. It’s done me so well I’ve actually opened up my own art studio in Boerne, TX now.

Music industry wise — So far, I’m most thankful for my friendship with Alex Tumay. I have met so many people that just want your money and nothing to do with you again which unfortunately is how a huge majority of the industry is. I reached out to Alex to mix my song “Retail Therapy” and honestly went into thinking it would just be a transaction with a few emails back and forth for mix notes. Though Alex is the most genuine and supportive person I’ve worked with so far and has opened so many doors for me already by introducing me to people to collaborate with, give me advice, or just to play video games haha. Regardless of music industry or everyday life I’d much rather have a few genuine friends than a bunch of fake ones. So, thanks bud.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

The greatest life lesson quote I will forever live by is, “It never hurts to ask”. So many artists put themselves in a box by thinking others they look up to in the industry are out of reach simply because they’re still “local”. Or if they do reach out, so often they’ll do it with this fan mentality. I’ve learned to respect myself as the music producer and artist I am and just reach out to people as if I’m already established. One day, I just realized there’s no sense in glorifying another human being. So just ask. The worst someone can tell you is “no” or not respond. Who cares?

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I’d love to have lunch with Tyler, The Creator. He’s inspired me in a lot of ways of realizing I don’t just have to stick to music if I don’t want to and I also don’t have to rely on other people to get going either. Watching him work on craft from YouTube videos, to Odd Future, to Loiter Squad, to GOLF, to Camp Flog Gnaw, The Jellies, and so on made me realize if I wanna make something, I can just make it. I think he’d like my video production style too and could be open to to collaborating with my company, Waffledog Productions, on a music video.

How can our readers follow you online?

My Instagram is @officialbrooklynmichelle, twitter is @TheBrooklynM, and Twitch is BrooklynMichelle. All my links are also available at my website www.BrooklynMichelle.com. Thank you so much!

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

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