The drum & bass scene has its notable female contributors who lend their vocal talents to the music, giving tracks the feminine touch many know and love. Ranging from the soulful vocals of the infamous Jenna G or London Elektricity collaborator Elsa Esmerelda to the quick witted bars of MC Tali, it's clear that D&B is far from just a man's game.
One new artist who is fighting to breakthrough with her own style of Latin infused vocals is Venezuelan songwriter Iriann Joyce (formerly known as Brownee MC). Having already worked with Command Strange and Crystal Element on German label Have-A-Break Records' Liquid Soldiers LP, Iriann has started turning heads and gaining recognition in the scene. We caught up with her to discuss what the future holds...
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background...
My name is Iriann Joyce and I am from Maracaibo, Venezuela. I discovered my passion for music when I was a little girl as my father was a DJ and played disco music. Therefore I spent my childhood listening to all the records and beats from the 70s and 80s. I also come from a family where we all sing and play folklore musical instruments so it was easy for me to sing, compose and write songs at early age.
I've been doing my thing on drum & bass for nine years when I became the first female MC / vocalist in Venezuela. I am an active member of BSK (Breakin System Kru, an audiovisual drum & bass collective) and BASE (a dubstep collective) here in Maracaibo.
How would you describe your style?
Hmm, quite silly, lovely and very sweet! I am a Latina girl and I pour into my melodies that hot and shiny Latin flavour. People have compared my voice and style with singers like Mexico's Julieta Venegas or Brazil's Bebel Gilberto but I would define my own sound as a shiny, sexy and romantic one!
When did you first discover drum & bass music and decide you wanted to be a part of it?
Twelve years ago a good friend of mine, DJ K1n, introduced me to drum & bass when he used to throw private parties at his place. Then in 2000 I started attending techno raves and in the second room of one they had drum & bass DJs. I immediately fell in love with the music and knew for sure that I wanted to be part of it. In 2002 BSK DJs Rek & Ago were playing at a party and there was an open mic, so I felt the need to grab the microphone to sing over and compete with a male MC at that moment.
Is there much of a scene in Venezuela?
In fact, yes there is. Our scene keeps growing and has so many talented DJs, MCs and producers like DJ Rek, Ago, Fuze, Twinz, Proto, Triphonic (Maracaibo), Zardonic, ZoundColector, DJ KU, DJ Willow, Beatz, Carl Matthes, Turtled, Emmerson, DJ Alex, Take, Spiralz, Phast, Dubb, Oxxo, Syme, Burguez (Caracas) to name just a few. Apologies if I missed someone out there!
Several international artists have played here like Adam F, DJ Marky, Patife, Drumsound, TC & Jakes, Jenna G, Silver, Mathematics and Subject13.
How hard do you think it is for female vocalists and MCs to make a name for themselves in the scene?
It is very hard like any other job, but if you show your abilities, work hard and believe in yourself you can make it. A few years back it was quite difficult for women to stand up and build a name in the scene, mostly because it was dominated by men, but at this moment we are having gender equality, and the drum & bass industry is enriching itself thanks to female contributions. Right now promoters, producers and DJs are giving more space and paying more attention to women because it's exciting and exotic to see and listen to a woman in front of the mic in the drum & bass scene.
Are there any vocalists or MCs that inspire you or you really admire?
Absolutely! I'm always looking for inspiration and there are loads of vocalists that have inspired me and pushed me to do my thing! My top three vocalists are Diane Charlemagne, Liane Carrol and Justina Curtis. I also really admire and love the voices of Mia V, Deeizm MC, Natalie Williams, Jenna G, Tali, Dynamite MC, SP:MC, MC Fats, MC Fearless, Stamina MC, MC Conrad, MC Darrison, Miss Drop and MC Fava. I just could go on and on!
You have your second vinyl release coming out in May with Command Strange, can you tell us a bit about that and how it came about?
Sure. My first vinyl with Command Strange is called Brasileiro and it is out now on Germany's Have-A-Break Records as HAB026. The flip side of this vinyl is alongside Brazil's Crystal Element and the track is called Secret Love, both tracks under my formerly name Brownee MC. You can buy it here.
Command Strange & Brownee MC - Brasileiro - Have-A-Break Recs by Iriann Joyce
Crystal Element & Brownee MC - Secret Love - Have-A-Break Recs by Iriann Joyce
Sunrise will be my second vinyl with Command Strange and it will be the debut of Antillectual Beats, a brand new label, and will be released in June. The owner of Antillectual Beats label fell in love with Sunrise from the very first moment and he offered us the chance to be the first release on the label. Alexey and I are very happy with this production. Make sure to grab a copy for your summer holidays!
Command Strange & Iriann Joyce - Sunrise (Antillectual Beats 001 12' coming this may!!!) by command_strange
What are your other plans for the coming year?
I have so many plans and I'm going to be quite busy for the next few months as I'm going to keep working with Command Strange. I am planning to make an album alongside Brazil's Simplification, and I'm collaborating with producers like Lynx & HellRazor, Pdex & Retrospekt, Mow, Translate, Motta and DJ Chap.
Anything else you'd like to let us know?
You can follow me on Twitter, SoundCloud and YouTube and I do follow back! I also recently opened a fan page on Facebook, you can join me! I also want to thank all the people, producers and friends that have supported me and have showed me their love and respect! You know who you are!
Big shouts and many thanks to Christian Lenz aka Mow, thanks to all the crew at Have-A-Break Records for spoiling me and treating me very nice! Also I want to thank Crissy Criss on BBC 1Xtra for the radio support, DJ Concrete on Diverse FM, and Subject13, Ashatack, Carl Matthes and FuzedFunk for playing my tunes on Bassdrive. Thank you Knowledge Magazine for this interview! Peace out!
Words: Matt 'Retrospekt' Brinkworth
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