Brian Cid – the name almost sounds too downplayed for a young artist so enlightening, but we know judging a book by its cover rarely reveals substance. His robust career and future plans merely scratch the surface of the giant he is condensed in a two-word syllable.
Brian’s pre-electronic success coined him as “a producer’s producer, kind of rare genius” (DJ Mag, 2016) and lives up to it through his professional evolution. He went from being a multi-platinum audio engineer for some of the biggest names in music – Mos Def, Beyoncé, & more – to transitioning into the world of house where he started to gain recognition from some of its legends. Today, Brian masters his sound and distributes it into multiple channels, from producing highly acknowledged tracks, playing worldwide, curating artists for his emerging record label, and branding events as a reflection of his selections.
We sit down with Brian to tap into his current state. It’s Saturday evening on the debut of Afterlife in New York’s Brooklyn Mirage and Brian just got off stage opening for an all-star lineup. Production difficulties didn’t allow for a full set time but he seems content and although he’s not used to playing opener, he’s grateful for “blessing this whole thing up.” Brooklyn-blood, a more representative two-word syllable for Brian, runs through his veins and explodes in pride. He recognizes the gift of playing in his home town, especially on this day, as a Brooklyn resident first and Mirage resident equally.
We’re nestled in one of Mirage’s secret rooms, fittingly in Moroccan interior, and we get cozy with whiskey in hand. All I wanted was a conversation with Brian, what I got in return was an in-depth connection, an openness to share and receive. Mysterious with charm and soft spoken with determination, Brian has a vision grander than life and he doesn’t hold back from taking you to those far places.
ANITA YARDEMIAN, PROJECT REVOLVER: Everything started for you in Brooklyn, in the Mirage – how do you feel playing here in your home venue for Afterlife, what’s the difference?
BRIAN CID: I’m honored because I really respect what they’re [Afterlife] doing. They’ve been pushing a very unique vibe, forward thinking approach and my music relates to that. I feel comfortable being part of it and welcoming them to one of the best venue’s in the world. For its kind, it’s [Brooklyn Mirage] the best. Everything about it is great and just welcoming these guys and blessing the whole thing…I’m not used to doing opening sets but how I see it as I’m from here [Brooklyn] and I belong to this group, to this family and I’m blessing this whole thing. It’s great. Super grateful.
I think it is one of the greatest venues in the world…now that you’re more worldwide after establishing your name in Brooklyn, what’s it like out there?
Brooklyn has a very unique crowd. This city has something going on all the time and it’s very different from any other place and its very selective with what [other cities] got going on. Whenever there is something going on in their cities, people approach it with a different emotion and they just get more excited. It’s more special for them. Here, there is so many things going on, not that it’s not special, but the approach is just a little different. Then it gets a little tougher, the crowd gets pickier.
NYC becomes your best critique.
And that’s beautiful because that’s what New York is. New York is always going to tell you what’s right, what’s wrong because of the nature of the city, because of these things. It’s a very unique crowd. If you win them, you’ll win them. But if you don’t, it’s tough.
I’ve been grateful, I’ve been having a lot of support, I’m just doing whatever I can to push the Brooklyn name out there. I believe in it, I love everything about it and I feel like people should know about it. And if I have the opportunity and voice to say where I’m from and have an identity, and just show people…because people at the end of the day, there’s a fantasy about someone that comes from somewhere and you kinda try to get that vibe because you’re not there but you want to fantasize about the vibe. If there’s a DJ from Europe coming, it’s because you want to feel that European vibe, so there is a fantasy about it. Same thing visa versa. People are like “Oh, I’ve never been to Brooklyn, I hear a lot about it, I wanna fantasize what it’s like – give me a little bit of that vibe,” and that’s what I push, giving people a little piece of Brooklyn all around the world, letting them know that this is such a special place.
Will you live anywhere besides Brooklyn?
This is always going to be my hometown. I’m always going to be traveling, I’m always living in different places, I’ve been in Miami for the past month. I’ll be relocating to Berlin for a few months, just doing my travels from there but it’s always going to be about Brooklyn. I’m always going to be bringing that Brooklyn vibe because that’s where I’m from. The same way the guys from Berlin do it, they bring that to us and we bring this to them. It’s funny because everything goes in a circle. New York has always been the forefront in electronic music in terms of best parties, best the scene and a lot of the inspiration that comes from Berlin, Amsterdam…they get inspired from us. They build their scene and now they come back to us to show us a little bit. It’s an interesting circle like, “you guys are showing me what we showed you,” but it’s beautiful, right?
It is. Inspiration from all ends. It’s always a different story.
People ask me all the time what’s your favorite place to play around the world and I can’t answer that question. Every place has a history, they party how they party because of a reason and a lot has to do with politics, with the way society is formed, the restrictions they have, the non-restrictions they have and the culture itself, so when you understand that and you get it, then it’s a great party. At the end of the day people give their all with whatever they have, and whatever they can so that’s what’s important.
“This is what I believe and this is my story, you can interpret it however you want but this is the story I’m telling.”
It’s an exciting time for you now. You skipped out on Burning Man, you have something else going on.
I did, I’ve had a really busy schedule. I just came from India, then I was in Canada, then London. I think it was the best decision because if I would have gone I would have been really beat up and I can’t be beat up. I need to always be in tip-top shape mentally and physically and to me that’s really important. I need to give my all. If I want to give my all I need to be good, right? It’s not really about jamming things in just doing them because…there are reasons beyond the music for me, so skipping out on Burning Man…we’ll be back next year.
In replacement of that, your focus is on your artist album coming out – what can we expect?
The artist album is going to be, I’d say, it’s going to showcase a really wide spectrum of what I’m about it – and it’s really wide – I can go many ways. It has a very forward-thinking approach. All the tracks are really special on their own, it tells a story, and I feel like I’m really, really pleased with it. I’ve been playing all the tracks for a while now and they really stand out, there’s no fillers. Music for the mind, music for the soul, and it has a little bit more of a techno approach. It can get really emotional, as well as intense, and very romantic, melancholic, trippy, it touches a lot of elements. I’m really excited. It’s going to be good, really, really good.
I’m excited. How long have you been working on it?
For the past maybe year and a half to two years. Slowly building the tracks and selecting the ones that I really feel work with each other and it’s almost like a collection, I wouldn’t say it’s my best work, but it’s a collection of stuff that I’m really proud of.
When you’re working on something in the studio, do you have an instinct or gut that tells you I’m done, do you go through a filtering process, or trust someone to give it a listen? Especially on this artist album since its different from your tracks…
You know what’s funny? I finished the album and I was looking for people to show it to and I really couldn’t find many because it doesn’t really make a difference if they like it or not. I do value an opinion but it’s really like everybody’s going to have a different opinion and I respect each one of them but it doesn’t change what I’ve done and what I believe. This is what I believe and this is my story, you can interpret it however you want but this is the story I’m telling.
“I like to make people think. I like to make people ask questions to themselves, because that’s what push you forward. It takes you out of your box.”
What’s the release plan since it’s such a different project?
We’re going to do a couple special things to talk about the album, explain what it is, the approach, the sounds. There’s a little bit of a special plan for the release since it’s different from EPs and other releases. Balance, which is the label it’s going to be released on, it’s a label that I really love and I selected. I was looking for a label, I didn’t want to do it on my label.
I really wanted to do it with a label that has been around, that is very well respected, and has a history of people that understand what their about and I wanted to just do it on that route. Balance was the best option, I don’t think I would want to do it with anyone else. They have such a large history of quality work, and immediately I sent them the album, they loved it. They let me do what I wanted to do, no restrictions, and I’ll maybe have another one coming on my label at some point but this one I feel like, it needed to be out there. It couldn’t be wasted and my label is doing well and I’m really happy but it’s a new label, but people that follow my music they know where to get it. I feel like the label helps, of course, but at this point, sometimes it doesn’t even make much of a difference because people just know where to get my music. They see what I release and whatever label it is, they get it but there was a value of doing it with a label that I respect and it’s almost like honoring the scene and respecting the scene. I feel like there is a message behind it, it says, “I honor you guys, and I respect you guys because of what you’ve done and I love to release my album on your label.”
Can we expect to see some incredible artwork like Endangered?
Oh yea. To me everything needs to be….
Yea. Because I feel like that’s what inspires – something bigger than life. Something that really makes you think and say, “Whoa, I never thought about that before,” or just a big new world. To me, that’s what forward thinking is and that goes for the music, the sounds, but also the approach and theme behind it. I like to make people think. I like to make people ask questions to themselves, because that’s what push you forward. It takes you out of your box. What is this, this is trippy, this is weird, I want you to have a feeling about it.
Speaking of Endangered, what’s your plan for the label? What are you looking for when choosing your artists and music?
I’m looking for a few things – I’m looking for artists that first of all, understand the sound which apparently they do because I get demos all the time. People are catering to the sound that I built because to me that is something so beautiful because I’ve created a sound and people are getting inspired from it. I think it needs to be artists that are active, that are really pushing forward, that are doing it in a serious matter, that just have a plan and not only understand the sound but are able to play around either locally or around the world and really push for it because it doesn’t make sense to release something if you’re not really active and doing something. I need to like them, I need to really like what they’re doing. To me it’s really important to incorporate people that do it from the heart, that are genuine, are not really just trying to change their style to fit in but more this is what you’re about and you’re kind of in the same route…just like-minded people. I’ve been finding a lot of good artists. I don’t have an agenda. Whoever is active, is doing beautifully, who is moving forward and is catering to the sound because it is going to keep its sound. There’s a story behind it, there’s a world.
Endangered is supposed to be how far the human kind is going to get right before extinction. Right before we vanish, at some point, right, cuz nothing is forever.
Before we go into the afterlife.
Exactly, right before we go to the afterlife…we’re going to be endangered, right? So humans are just going to be at their peak, of their spirituality, their physical, it’s just going to be their mind. So that’s Endangered. That’s what the music caters for and the artwork and the whole party theme, is really forward, really futuristic kind of stuff, but at the same time, back to the basics, back to the roots, very organic, but also futuristic at the same time. It seems like the concept was understood very easily and people are responding to it, they love it.
“…right before we vanish…nothing is forever.”
I’m excited to see what kind of events you have coming up.
It attracts certain kind of people, the people that are looking for more, they want to challenge themselves. Those are the people we want.
It seems like that’s getting done.
Oh yea, we’re just getting started. We’re going to be doing it more around the world I wanted to do a few here in Brooklyn first, of course, cuz again same thing, right? A lot of promoters around the world tell me, “Let’s bring Endangered.” They told me in India, they told me in LA, they told me in Canada, in Argentina. “Let’s bring Endangered, let’s do it.” So I’m going to bring in a few artists from the label, and we’re just going to be pushing the whole thing.
About artwork – your personal artwork – is this newly added?
This has a powerful meaning. It’s an explosion of energy. It’s supposed to be a full piece, full sleeve but it hasn’t been finished, it’s been evolving. There’s a whole story behind it. It’s supposed to represent the earth, the water, and the cosmos, and the connection between everything and how everything is really connected and flowing all throughout. So it starts from the land, it goes out to the universe, and the land represents humbleness, it represents balance, strength, the water represents flow, patience, adaptation and the cosmos is everything, that’s where everything it’s at. I was able after a year looking for the right artists, I was able to get a really, really talented guy, Jon Black from Miami and we had the idea to do the first session in Red Rocks in Vegas. We went to the desert and we had the first session there, cuz it takes a lot of sessions, and then the second session was done here in Brooklyn, actually done here in the Mirage. I wanted to choose a place that really meant something to me, and you know, the guys here loved the idea, they’re like “Yes, please come” so we actually did it here, the second session.
Is this your first tattoo?
This is not my first, I have something [here] on my wrist. This is music notes going through my main vain that connect to my heart. So you got the notes here, it flows through, but this one I got a long time ago.
You had a big 2018, what does the rest of your year look like? You said you were in Berlin…
I’m doing my travels from there, maybe not even end up there that much anyways. We have a lot of things in North America, in Europe, somethings in the Middle East, in Asia – yes, we’re going there. I’m enjoying the process, it’s been beautiful, it’s been little by little. I’m not in a rush, I’m letting things just go, just flow, this is not something that I need to do anything at a certain speed, this is long term, this is a lifestyle for me. It’s just getting bigger and bigger, more projects, bigger markets, more markets – it’s expanding, it’s like a spider web, little by little, it’s beautiful.
You’ve played in LA before, now you’re coming to play SBCLTR Halloween – what do you think about LA? It’s not as powerful as New York yet, we’re getting there. Do you see the potential?
Yea. It’s going through a really good moment. This is not even about being on the same level as everybody…. every city has its own pace and every stage of the pace is beautiful on its own so it’s cool to see a lot of people really supporting and doing a lot of cool things. LA has a really cool crowd. Everybody loves to party. They’re really bringing a lot of cool parties, cool brands to the city, and all the events I’ve done, they’ve been really good and it’s just gonna keep growing. It’s interesting to see the process, not only in LA, but other cities in the US, it’s cool to see how things start and develop, and each one of them are in different levels. At the end of the day we’re all giving something to it, being a part of it, and helping it grow, whatever it can to help it grow. LA – it’s gonna be good, it’s gonna be a really good party.
What about Beirut?
Oh, I love Beirut. I played afterhours …the people and the culture, I love it there.
Well, we’re really excited to have you in LA. [Amir joins the conversation] Last time I saw you was at Mirage and you were awesome.
Oh yea, that’s when I brought my parents.
Brian Cid is set to play in LA at SBCLTR’s Carnival of Souls on October 27th. Visit here for more information.