Haiti's Michael Brun Talks EDM Stardom and Launching Kid Coconut Label
Photo by Michael Raveney
In 1804, Haitian drums booming through the mountains helped the country overthrow slavery and gain its independence.
In 2014, that same throbbing beat has established Haiti-born, Miami-based Michael Brun as an emerging international EDM powerhouse.
And with his own freshly minted independent record label, Kid Coconut, he's determined to further integrate his Caribbean homeland's roots into the international tapestry of electronic dance music.
See also: EDM's Five Greatest Delusions
Haiti's official motto, proudly emblazoned on its warrior's flag of cannons and bayonets, is "L'union fait la force," and Brun is adamant about the historical legacy he represents. "Haiti is the first independent black nation in the Western hemisphere," he says. "And I want people to know that I'm from Haiti."
His own blood is a mix of Portuguese, Guyanese, Chinese, Haitian, and French. He was born and raised in Port-au-Prince, and he wants to help people soak up some of his country's rich musical heritage. "I grew up listening to Caribbean Sextet and Tabou Combo. My dad was in band called Skandal in the '90s. I'm influenced by everything that comes from home," he tells Crossfade.
"Kompa is like the Haitian equivalent of salsa, a very dancey romantic music with a touch of zouk. The snare hits on a very specific beat, like ta-kata. All the islands have their trademark dance style, and that's ours."
But one native style that Brun loves even more is rara, a rally music incorporating infectious rhythms, call and response, and simple, catchy melodies blown through homemade vuvuzelas and tubas. "It's my favorite kind of Haitian music," he says. "It's so simple and stripped down and focused on percussion and beats, and it has such a hypnotic vibe that when everybody comes down the street dancing, it really gets you.
"The coolest thing about rara," the DJ adds, "is that all the different regions have their own beat, their own trademark sound. You listen to the beat and know that it's from that certain place. It's inspiring. They've got these crazy-deep horns that you really feel in your chest. It's like nothing else I've ever felt. It's so special."
See also: Five Signs You Might Be a Shitty DJ