Mar 15, 2022
6 min read
San Francisco-based DJ & Producer Spencer Brown is a true visionary at heart. Not afraid to challenge "the system," his sole purpose in life is to create whatever he wants, for the love of music. This mentality has played a considerable role in his success, especially with his most recent announcement. Ready to take on the next step of his career, Spencer Brown has officially launched diviine his own artist label. But how did his journey lead him to his biggest achievement yet?
"Music has always been my number one passion," he tells Gray Area.
Born with music coursing through his veins, Spencer Brown picked up the drums and other instruments at only two years old. About a decade later, he dabbled with producing hip hop beats. But, before he entered the realm of house music, he explored the opposite side of the musical spectrum: dubstep.
"Early dubstep really inspired me to make electronic music...it was really inspiring to see people coming together."
Even at 14, Brown got major support for his early dubstep tunes from artists like Rusko. He had started to hone in on his progressive house sound by high school. And after Avicii played one of his tracks on his podcast, Spencer Brown knew he found his calling.
However, his journey wasn't necessarily a breeze. In 2020, he came out as gay via an op-ed for Billboard. Although he faced many challenges along the way, he knew the dance music community would greet him with open arms after he made the announcement.
"Dance music has always been my safe haven since I was a teenager," Brown explains. "I just really think it's important for me to come out publicly so I can be someone to look up to, for people who are really struggling. I never had someone to look up to who was gay."
Beyond being a role model, Brown also strives to remain faithful to his principles and values in everything that he does. "I think the more authentic you can be," he says, "the better your music is."
In addition to representing the LGBTQ+ community, Spencer Brown advocates breaking musical barriers. Unable to be classified by a single genre, his receptive mindset drives his diverse musical style.
"I would say my sound is a progressive journey through house, deep, techno, trance, just a little bit of everything kind of mingled together."
Brown is a jack of all trades, with a sound that gorgeously weaves together the multi-colored fabrics of house music. Although he's released music on prominent labels such as Anjunadeep, Last Night on Earth, Factory93, and mau5trap, he's never bound himself to a single organization.
He also avoids making "playlistable" or stream-friendly tracks. Instead, longer tracks (seven or more minutes) resonate with him as a listener. His label allows him to operate outside the traditional model, releasing music with no boundaries.
"I want the music to be divine on the label, like I want that to define the music...I want every release to be phenomenal, something that I would play out all the time, something of extremely high quality. I'm not going to be doing that many releases… I'm really going to be focusing on finding the very best music that I've made, and my friends, and keep it very, very exclusive, very high quality."
The official launch of diviine comes with its debut double-sided release, "Forbidden Flow / 18 Min Loop."
"Forbidden Flow" showcases Brown's ability to create an emotional journey through music. Listeners are greeted with a dark, ominous techno track that transitions into a softer, progressive vibe.
"Music needs a yin and yang…even if it's a really happy light song, there should be some darkness in there too. I'm a very happy person. I live a great life. But there's definitely dark periods and darkness from [my] upbringing that you can't just ignore. So I think it's important to have dark and light in music."
Every song has its unique writing process. When producing "Forbidden Flow," Spencer recalls it was an effortless experience.
"I ended up chopping up some vocal I had on my computer, made an interesting pattern, wrote some chords…I chopped up some other group elements from other stuff I had lying around. And then I didn't even know that a track was made. At the end of the night, I went to listen to the project, and I was like, yeah, this is pretty sick. So it was really low pressure. But the best music I think is written in low-pressure environments."
"18 Min Loop" clocks in at precisely 18 minutes long. It acts as a work that's "frozen in time," recalling an era when there was no need for DJs and producers to conform to industry standards. A time in club culture where there were no rules on the length of tracks.
"Apple Music, Spotify, stuff like that, their algorithms and their editors are not going to support an 18 minute track, but I know putting that out, I'm already aware of that. And so I know, it's not going to "stream very well" or whatever. Honestly, for me, creative freedom is more important than catering to what people are looking for."
You may think it would take countless hours to produce a masterpiece of this magnitude, but for Spencer Brown, it took quite the opposite.
"I opened up Logic and I just kind of remember it took maybe like an hour or two…so in one sitting, I made the whole track. But I didn't even think it was a track that I would release because it was long…and then I was like, you know what, I'm gonna put that as the second track on my first EP because I don't care."
Both of these tracks shed light on Brown's core values. By having complete creative freedom with his label, he now has a platform to share his beliefs with the rest of the dance music community. In the end, diviine has one ultimate goal; to give power back to the artists.