Producer Brian Malouf and singer-songwriter Gina Brooklyn.
Singer-songwriter Gina Brooklyn, who grew up in Wadsworth, OH, started singing when she was only 5 years old. Inspired by her parents, who played in a local band, she started writing her own songs when she was 13. By the time she was 15, Brooklyn had recorded at well-known studios such as Studio City Studios in Los Angeles, 515 Studios in Nashville and Lava Room Recording Studios in Cleveland.
All the hard work has finally started to pay off. Brooklyn, who plays piano, guitar, ukulele and cajon, recently won the Djooky Music Awards, a global contest that drew 377 artists from 55 countries.
“It was a contest and all the judges who put it together are music industry professionals who are very interested in music,” she says of the awards during a recent phone interview. “The contest was global, and they promote music appreciation all over the world. You enter a song through this app that they created, and you get people to vote for. It’s kind of like how American Idol is set up but the opposite. With American Idol, the judges guide the contestants along, and the audience votes for a winner. With this, you campaign for yourself, and then the judges weigh in at the end.”
Last month, Brooklyn traveled to Los Angeles to spend a week writing and recording at Capitol Studios with Djooky co-founder Brian Malouf, a producer who’s worked with Madonna and Michael Jackson.
"Gina has exactly the sort of profile we want to see on our platform," says Malouf in a statement. "She is very talented, hard-working, already has impressive credentials in her music career and just needs a bit more guidance and investment. Fulfilling our ‘brand promise’ and safely accommodating the severe COVID protocols in place here in Los Angeles, we were able to have Gina record a new song of her choice at Capitol Recording Studios in Hollywood."
Djooky executives also arranged for several mentoring sessions for Brooklyn with industry executives based in Los Angeles, and Malouf arranged for Brooklyn to meet with Mollie Lehman (VP of A&R at Atlantic Records) and Sarah Yeo (A&R Manager at Disney Music Group). After some co-writing sessions with Kim Bullard, she met with musicians Sean Hurley (Shawn Mendes, Lana Del Rey, Morrissey, John Mayer), Dave Levita (Morrissey, Lana Del Rey, Tim McGraw), and Victor Indrizzo (Masters of Reality/Redd Kross).
“They were all so talented,” Brooklyn says of the musicians. “And they’re the most humble people. I recorded one song, ‘Be Kind,’ with them, and they all really liked it. I got really good feedback. I actually didn’t know what to do with the song, and Kim [Bullard] helped arrange and compose one of the sections.”
“Be Kind” has yet to be released, but Brooklyn just released her latest single, “Selfish Air,” last month.
“I wrote that with Dan Epand,” she says of the track. “I wrote it toward the end of last year. It has a different sound. It’s kind of slower, but you can still bop your head to it. When we first started writing it, Dan said we should do a song with a Tame Impala vibe, and he sent me a drum track. I started playing guitar to it, and it turned into something totally different. Lyrically, it’s inspired by vanity in social media.”
Just today, Brooklyn has released a video diary, which she describes as an encapsulation of her experiences at Capitol, to help promote an upcoming album.
Still building her audience here in the states, Brooklyn has already developed big listening markets on Spotify in Istanbul, Moscow, Ankara and Warsaw.
“That’s wild to think about,” she says of her international fanbase. “I think that’s so cool. Having a global audience is kind of awesome. I feel really grateful.”
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Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]