Havana Brown was famous as a DJ but made her debut as a recording artist in 2011 with We Run the Night (feat. Pitbull), which went triple platinum in Australia. After it was reworked by US producer RedOne, the single sold 2.5 million copies around the world. I caught up with the 28-year-old to chat about her first studio album, Flashing Lights, her on-stage persona and the best advice Pitbull gave her.
Tell me about your album.
It’s my first album so I’m really excited about it. I definitely had a different mentality when I first started. I thought, ”Just put out songs”, but this is my official debut album. There is club/pop [sound] and you’ll find quirkiness and fun.
Did you always want to be a singer?
Before I was a DJ, I was a singer signed to a record label in the UK, so that definitely was a part of my life. Then I started on my DJ’ing and that took off and I was concentrating on that for many years, but it was always part of the plan.
Are you an outgoing person or do you have an on-stage persona?
I’m definitely more outgoing on stage than I am in real life; I think Havana Brown is a lot more confident than Angelique [Meunier] – that is my real name. Havana Brown is actually a breed of cat. I love my name, Angelique, but it’s just too pretty and not the right name for the person that I think I am on stage. There is something about cats; they know exactly what they want and they know how to get it and I wanted that sort of mentality when it came to my career.
Did you feel like you had to prove yourself as a singer within the music industry?
I thought I would have to. People probably still see me as a DJ and that is not a problem, but I thought when I first came out with We Run The Night that people might be a bit more shocked than they actually were. I thought they would be like, ”What is she doing?”, but they were very responsive to it. I felt like I was performing when I was DJ’ing because I would come out and be very energetic on stage anyway, so I felt like it was the next step.
You’ve been on tour with so many talented artists. Do you have a favourite?
I’ve worked with Lady Gaga, Pitbull, Britney Spears, Pussy Cat Dolls, Enrique Iglesias, Chris Brown and Rihanna. I like Latinos – they’re so much fun to be around, very down to earth and very generous people. Enrique probably doesn’t party as much as Pitbull but he definitely knows how to have fun; he plays pranks on everyone. You have to keep your phone away from him because he’ll send really crude texts to random people in your phone and he deletes the message so you never know what he has actually sent!
Do you keep in contact with any of them?
Whenever I see Enrique we catch up and have a good yarn but I speak to Pitbull all the time. He helps me out and gives me advice whenever he can.
What is the best advice he’s given you?
One thing I learnt was to never forget what you are doing this for. When you start out in the music industry, it’s your dream to be on stage performing in front of thousands of people, but when you’re there you forget and get too stressed out and forget to enjoy it. He taught me to enjoy that moment.
Who inspires you?
I love Janet Jackson; she inspired me the most growing up. I love people who dance, sing and put on a show and she is the best at doing that. Her performances were very strong but very sexy at the same time.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope to be doing what I love still. I hope I’m not looking back at this moment and going, ‘Oh, that was a good time’ … I want that to be a good time, too!
WE WENT TO Nick’s Bar and Grill, King Street Wharf
WE ATE breads and dip; grilled barramundi and grilled John Dory fillets with salad
WE DRANK sparkling water, Stonefish sauvignon blanc and Evans and Tate chardonnay
I WORE a LOVER top, Josh Goot skirt and Isabel Marant boots
HAVANA WORE American Apparel
Photography: Tamara Dean