JJ Brine is a bit of an odd duck. His website claims that he was possessed by a demon entity during the recording of his debut LP President of Mozambique. I’m still not sure if this is a joke or not. His songs combine fractured, poppy dance hooks with manipulated, bizarre vocals that wouldn’t sound out of place in a David Lynch film. Also, his first single is called “Ghost of Your Mother’s Womb”. So there’s that.
Short, with a mop of bleach-blonde hair that contrasts against his all black attire and equally black, piercing eyes, Brine himself comes across normal…ish. There are long pauses between my questions and his answers, and on multiple occasions he discusses working with people that don’t actually exist. Perhaps he was putting me on, or perhaps he’s insane. Either way, JJ Brine is, both literally and figuratively, a unique voice.
ETC: How long have you been making music for? What inspired you?
JJ: Time doesn’t configure itself correctly. I guess I’ve been doing this for about 2 years. I was in Lebanon and during that time of social unrest, I was entertaining myself with Garageband. Something was unleashed in me that has not been quelled since.
ETC: Your album is called the President of Mozambique. I’m really ignorant. Where is that?
JJ: Sub-Saharan Africa.
ETC: Have you ever been there?
JJ: I mean, in the spiritual realm.
ETC: I was going to ask you about that. According to your site, this album was made while you were possessed? Do you mean literally?
JJ: I don’t know. I mean it could be literal, it could be an energy. I guess that’s what possession is, right? When an external energy source is making a home in you, and reproducing itself there. So…yes.
ETC: How do they come to you? How did the President of Mozambique come to you?
JJ: It was just a very obvious incantation. It was like “Okay, you have to say the name of the ghost. And you also have to say if you want to recognize it in a crowd and want to have it come to you. I had to recognize any phantoms in the crowd. And that’s the way it was. Consolidating different energies. Now, I still do intend to visit Mozambique in the physical world.
ETC: Why do you disguise your vocals?
JJ: Well, that was my first exposure to music, for whatever reason. I love the idea of being a character and exploring any spirits that might be in my vicinity at any moment. And vocal transformers provide an application for that. I definitely think that to make something that transcends me, I have to be comfortable with something that identifies itself as something as being beyond me. Also, to sound like Chloe.
ETC: What’s your favorite song on this album?
JJ: “Ghost of your Mother’s Womb.” That’s the most personal, though not to me.
ETC: I really liked the video for that song. Did you do it yourself?
JJ: Well, I co-directed it with Sam Roden.
ETC: Who’s the girl in the video?
JJ: “That’s my friend Lena Marquise — she’s a performance artist, art director and producer. She represents Chloe in the videos.”
ETC: You mentioned Chloe before, who is that?
JJ: Chloe is my vanished twin and Lena is representative of her. In the flesh. In the temporal realm.
ETC: Okay…so where do you see your music going? What’s your goal?
JJ: I see these things as evolving. I don’t neccesarily have control over what I’m participating in and what I’m not. I mean, one could say that I do in theory, but what I do know is that I don’t have the freedom of will to choose to participate in this or not. I see myself doing what I need to do and advancing my interests in so far that I have room to maneuver.
ETC: What do you mean exactly? It sounds like you don’t have any control.
JJ: I would not have any control over any of these matters, save for the fact that I am in total control of all things past, present and future.
Thanks to JJ Brine for his time and putting up for my dumb shit. President of Mozambique is out now on DrugLord Records. You can check out more from JJ Brine on his tumblr and hear his whole album for free on his Soundcloud.
Photos property of Etc Etc
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