Briana Alexa, known as Brika (pronounced “bree-kuh”), is an alternative singer-songwriter born and raised in Miami, Florida to Cuban-American parents. Her music, which has captivated audiences globally, is vibrant and melancholy, running the gamut of human emotions. A musician since the tender age of three, Brika’s intensely creative nature has been apparent from the start, in her childhood years of songwriting all the way to Voice Memos, her professional debut, recorded with esteemed producer Julio Reyes Copello. Her music has been ranked highly on Spotify charts and earned her placements on numerous playlists, in addition to general acclaim for what critics termed “incisively sharp, beautifully orchestrated pop music.”
Can you tell us more about your winning song, how you created it, where does it come from ?
I had the idea to show my real “Time”, modern time from born until death with much of beautiful moments and totally stress. The time before death is pretty short and we have just a few seconds before „the gate of life“ will be closed.
Therefore the remix has a transition from the first almost classical orchestral part to the hard sounded dubstep part.
This is my first project in electronic (production) music, the remix of “TIME” by Hans Zimmer (the Soundtrack to the Film “Inception”). The Remix does not include the original samples or stems of Hans Zimmer, all of the instruments were played by me with the hardware controller and sound libraries.
It is not the first time you get selected to the American Tracks… How do you use your wins and selections to promote yourself ?
I’m just starting to use social networks to build my internet presence. So I shared a Link to the Facebook-Site of American Tracks Music Award and my image with laurel on Facebook and SoundCloud.
Now I plan my own internet site, where I will publish the link to your website under “awards“.
Cool ! As an artist, what are your goals, what are you aiming for ?
I have just graduated as an Audio Engineer (in SAE Institute) and now I learn and begin to compose music for films and TV. I’m looking for a way and for people to collaborate with and going this way together. This is my biggest dream, realizing it will make me completely happy.
What would be some of your references or influences ?
My russian and jewish roots and the folk music that my mother sang in my childhood influenced me.
At the age of 7, my sister gave an album of classical music to me. When I heard Beethoven’s symphony N 5, a thousand stars exploded in my mind…
… and I realized, that music is able to strongly influence me and that it has power. Later I played and sang jazz and blues songs with my bands at the age of 20 and the styles influenced my musical perception. And of course i have a big respect for the greatest composer of our time Hans Zimmer and his Remote Control Productions team. I hope someday to meet him.
Where can we find your music ? Spotify, Itunes … ? Give us the links !
I’m just starting now and have not published many of my productions yet. They are still “in box” waiting for great release, some titles you can listen here: https://soundcloud.com/berkovitch
We have amazing artists coming to the American Tracks Music Awards. One of them is Jackson Wells. Jackson won artist revelation back in September 2017, and was again selected in December 2017. Way to go for 2018 now !
You won artist revelation this September at the American Tracks contest. Congrats! You already got Finalist at the “Song of the Year” contest, and Semi-Finalist at Unsigned Only… It looks like your song has a great echo. Can you tell us more about the origin of the track?
Sure! Originally the track came from a challenging period in my life. I always turn to writing music when I’m dealing with difficulties, because for me it continues to be a good way to cope with and understand what I am going through.
Most, if not all of my music, comes from real events I’m going through, for better or for worse.
Fallout was cathartic for me—I lost a best friend over a situation that hit me out of left field. Betrayal is a tough emotion to deal with, and I can’t tell you how important writing was toward processing that event.
You are NY born, but living in Nashville. Did you come down there in your search for rock’n’roll / country music? Do you feel Nashville still is the city for music opportunities?
Surprisingly, I didn’t move to Nashville to pursue music! I actually came because my family relocated due to a work relocation for my dad. But I did fall in love with performing and writing rock and country music living in Nashville, whereas in LA I concentrated only on pop music. I have had a lot of great mentors both in Nashville and in LA that have taught me so much over the years. I don’t think I would have the diversity I have now and would be the artist I am today without having lived in both locations. I do think that certain opportunities may be easier to pursue in Nashville, for instance if you are solely a country music artist, but I think LA holds equal opportunities for indie, rock, and pop artists. Nashville is definitely growing though in its scope of prospects for all kinds of artists. Americana is really on the rise.
Fall Out is the last song listed on your album Souvenirs & Secret Doors. And one of the last lyrics is “I HOPE ONE DAY YOU’LL FIND WHAT YOU’RE LOOKIN’ FOR”. What are you looking for with your music?
I just hope that my music brings something to others that matters to them, that it connects with them, when they listen to it, whether it be happiness, sadness, or whatever emotion is called for.
I think music, regardless of where you come from, bonds us all with simple truths. A lot of people have gone through the same things in life, and music allows us to voice that in a melodic way.
There is a saying, “When words fail, music speaks.” I can’t explain why music can touch so deeply, but I have always felt that it’s my best connection to people—much more so than a straightforward conversation, in my case. I’m more capable being honest and open in a song. Not that that’s ideal!
You published lately a song from Eric Church on your Facebook. Who are the artists that you would dream to work with, or that have an influence on your music?
Eric Church would certainly be one of them, because the way he connects with his fans is nothing short of amazing. I’ve looked up to him for years as far as how he works with his followers, and the way he organizes his shows as an experience for them. People go to shows to encounter moments. Jeffrey Steele is a master at this—his music comes from his heart, and his enthusiasm at sharing the stories behind the lyrics and connecting with the audience is remarkable. He’s honest, above all, and people can feel that. Along with those two, I would love to work with Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20. Rob’s music was something my parents and I bonded over on the car rides to school, and I’ve always loved the way he writes and produces quality content. Old songs, new songs—they just don’t age.
Do you perform on stage? What are your next shows?
I do perform on stage–its probably my favorite thing about my job! I currently have some upcoming dates in China, which is where I spend about half of the year, both studying for my master’s degree and touring with my band. I’ve performed there for the past six years for audiences between 50 and 10,000, at festivals, live houses, and university campus concerts. I have a number of songs that were written in English, but I’ve translated the choruses into Chinese and that works out great. But I am currently putting some things on the books in the greater Nashville area too!
They took 3 wins out of 3 nominations in the September competition. They even got finalists against… Themselves. Boy, that’s a way to be 100% certain to get the trophy !
We had to know more about this dark and sensitive duet… Here is the Black Mirror interview for the ATMA.
Hi, can you tell us more about Black Mirror : are you a band, where does the name come from… What’s your backstory ?
We are Inés Bonet and Arsenio Cavada from Spain. We started back in 2014 when we met accidentally, and as a game we made several spontaneous covers of songs by artists that we admired. We did it during our free time, it was fun but soon we felt need to start composing our own songs, writing our emotions and turning them into music. The musical connection between us was surprising and ideas began to emerge immediately.
We started to share them on social networks (SoundCloud, Youtube, Hispasonic …) enjoying the simple fact of creating, sharing and interacting with other people.
We are indeed a band, but an unusual band, we almost don´t see each other´s face, our inspiration and work process has always been mediated by distance,
behind a computer screen, swapping files, so Black Mirror is the dark surface of a display accidentally turned off when we are in front of it, it reflects us and makes us think about our life.
You just won at the American Tracks Music Awards (September edition) and you set a new record : you got 3 wins out of 3 nominations win Best Lyrics, Best Independent Artist and Best International Song. How does that feel ?
We are grateful and surprised. It is an honor for us. We never thought that we could be selected among so many artists, particularly in an international competition. There are fantastic artists all over the world, in the shade, we appreciate that many people share with us this music passion and that there is so much talent everywhere.
These types of competitions are a perfect way to give a chance to all those who are out of those habitual ways.
So, thanks …
For that latest category (Best International Song) : you got finalist with Cloudy Day, competing against… Yourself, with another song “Satin Gloves”. This is a first in the ATMA history. You have to know the Judges votes for the tracks in an anonymous way. They noticed the same style and “brand” but you beat the competition. Are you used to that type of winning ?
In fact, it’s the first major prize we’ve won. It is really gratifying, also the fact that our own style is perceived in our music, that means that we are honest and coherent and that inevitably our music is impregnated with a unconscious own brand that is always printed in our songs.
How does your music come together ? What s your writing process, the way you compose ?
Black Mirror’s way of working is based on an individual work in our personal studios and exchange of digital files, which frequently include domestic noises, birds, dogs, crickets, etc. These imperfections make our music is, in addition to music, a capture of the circumstances that existed at that time, everything remains as it was, as a result of something that happened, a photo of the past.
Production goes hand in hand with composition in a linear additive work, a bidirectional input dialogue that lasts for a few days per track. There is sometimes a real uncertainty about the end result, often unorthodox and unplanned, but that process produces unexpected fruits and it’s very gratifying artistically.
Cloudy Day, Half Life and My Innocence : are these tracks all part of the same album ?
Cloudy Day and Half Life are songs from our album “No colours for Concern”, in fact we never had intentions or expectations of publishing any album, but one day the record label from Tenerife “El Hombre Bala Records” proposed us to edit an album with a selection of our songs. It was a surprise too…
My innocence was a song we made after the release of the album, and we think it has a new level of maturity.
Where can people by your music ?
Our music can be listened on SoundCloud and Youtube too.
Your music has some melancholy in it, beautiful melodies but also an obvious dark side of some sort. What are your influences or references ?
Of eclectic musical tastes, our influences are various and include classical music, the British pop of the 60s, Symphonic and progressive Rock, the American Folk and more recently the music developed by bands like Massive Attack, Portishead, Depeche Mode, so also we are influenced by Trip Hop and electronic music, in a more aromatic than formal way.
Do you perform on stage ? Have your concerts schedules for the months to come ?
We are not a usual band, we don’t even re-interpret our songs once they are finished.
What are your projects for 2018 ?
Our project is to continue having these moments of pleasure making music in the same way that until now, enjoying the process and without compromises that turn it into something unpleasant or overwhelming.
And here is the brand new video music of BLACK MIRROR : “Worms”, which is the first single from their new album.
Stefan K. (standing for Kristinkov) was our very first winner for a score, back in December 2016. He also submitted the same motnh with another track that got finalist… The same category, against himself !
We went back to him to get to know more about his music.
Stefan, you were one of the three winners of the inaugural edition of the American Tracks Music Awards, back in 2016 (score category). Do you remember submitting and why?
Yes, I remember submitting. At that point, RJTD had already received a few awards and was featured on a few film festivals.
I was browsing through the Filmfreeway for festivals accepting music scores, and found American Tracks Music Awards. And I thought that it would be an appropriate place to submit. I was not disappointed.
Later, it was included in my album of film music titled “1:31 AM”.
Do you consider RJTD like a classic or regular music score ? Or what’s its originality ?
Well, the film music genre is still young, so, I believe it is too early to determine what is classic in it and what is not. There are constant experiments going on. People are trying different things to better convey the message they want to deliver.
RJTD is definitely experimental in all aspects, and, like everything I do in music, it also combines and fuses elements from different styles.
In addition, it is written using the compositional technique that I am developing, which, I believe, is well suited for conveying different, even contrasting emotions. There are no “clean” emotions in real life. It is always mixed – happiness and pain, sadness and hope and so on. And in RJTD it needed to be funny and scary.
You have a solid music background. Can you tell us about you and your music path ?
I started studying music at 5. Then music school, music college, conservatory, university. I was and am performing and recording with many wonderful musicians, in different countries and in many different styles and situations. All this has definitely influenced my compositional style.
Do you perform on stage you own music or are you a performer for other bands?
Yes, both, but not as often lately…
You published many songs and tracks already. Where can we find them ?
Is there something special bounding you to music made for film?
Music in film tells a story. It is there, because there is something that cannot be told with other means – visuals, dialogues, sound effects. This is usually about emotion, emotional state, feelings.
I like to do this, especially in situation when music tells something different, and really influences viewers’ emotional response.
Besides, musically it allows doing things that are not possible, or not appropriate in other genres. Thus, this enables a composer to be as creative as possible, which is very rewarding.
What are your music plans and projects for the next months ?
Recently, I wrote a score for a series pilot – e very nice, fun and non-violent story, or a series of stories, if there will be a continuation, which is expected. If so, I will be working on that.
My new album titled “A.M.A (Ask Me Anything)” is coming out these days.
So, please, check it out when you have nothing else to do. It is a first full-length album featuring me as a composer and a clarinet player. I’ve nicknamed it “clarinet, like you never heard before”, because it features clarinet in many unusual situations, which was never done before. Not on one album, at least. I have plans for my next album, and a few interesting collaborations are in the works.
It is simply the product of our emotions, our love for any artistic field and of our synergy in our private Life such as in working Life.
Checking on your website, you have a lot of music to listen to here, your “Colonne Sonore”. You seem pretty creative. How long does it take you to compose a track ?
Generally for a complex track with a complex mix of instruments the timing is about 2/7 days.