Spencer Brown: Compelling the Crowd Through Contrasts

Lauren Krieger

Listen to Spencer Brown’s exclusive guest mix on FRISKY as he explores his deepest passion for Progressive music on his “Illusion of Perfection” tour.

There are many DJs who started out in their teenage years, sneaking into clubs, mixing for their friends, and even getting warm up spots at local venues. Then there’s Spencer Brown, who was only in middle school when he began his DJ career, playing 5 – 6 hour sets for older kids at their parties. It was here where he learned the true art of DJing, discovering how to read the room and keep the dance floor moving all day and night. These early self taught lessons in DJing have served him well, as at only 24 years old he has already toured with Avicii and Above & Beyond, playing at some of the best venues in the world including Output Brooklyn, Audio in San Francisco, Echostage DC, Space Miami, and Hï Ibiza, at stadiums like Barclay’s Center, TD Garden, and Rogers’ Centre, and at festivals that include Tomorrowland Belgium, EDC Las Vegas, Electric Zoo NYC, Global Dance Denver, Ile Soniq Montreal, Dreams Fest Toronto, Electric Festival Helsinki, and many more.

When thinking of these massive events, it may bring to mind the negatives of the EDM industry: where the “experience” takes precedence over the music. It’s obvious in speaking with Spencer Brown however, that his passion for the music is by far the greatest factor in his life, and that while his talent and dedication has provided the opportunity for giant festivals and arenas alike, he feels most at home playing the underground clubs, and he longs for those house party days when he’d play all night with an intimate group of friends. He spoke of the disconnect he felt when DJing for 30,000 people (although “the raw energy was crazy!”), where he felt like he was playing at them instead of with them. The connection of controlling the dance floor which he loved so much as a kid was missing, and that experience of telling a story, taking the crowd on a journey, was impossible when limited to a one hour set.

Now he has the opportunity to create that experience in both intimate venues and big festivals alike, on the latest tour for his debut, continuous mix album “Illusion of Perfection”. By playing open to close and extended sets, Spencer is able to showcase his skills as a both a DJ and producer, sharing his music in a format that best suits his lifelong passion. By combining his love for story telling through mixing with a devotion to producing meaningful music, the “Illusion of Perfection” tour is a culmination of all that Spencer Brown has lived and worked for.

“It was sickest thing I’ve seen in my life”

At only around 2 years old, Spencer Brown was already addicted to rhythm, driving his parents crazy by banging on pots and pans in the kitchen. To save their ears and their cookware, they bought him his own mini drum set to play with, which led to an interest in other instruments as well, including guitar, piano, and bass, all of which he had learned by the age of 7. Wanting to record his own music, Spencer started writing and recording his own tracks, and when he began to explore hip hop and early deep dubstep in middle school, his love for playing and writing music expanded into the digital world of making beats. With his innate love of rhythm and burgeoning passion for the digital world of music, it was natural that he would begin DJing too, playing at parties and learning to hone those dance floor reading skills that would come in so handy later in life.

It wasn’t long after when he found his true love: Progressive House. In high school was when he fell deep into the house music world and found his “true identity”, one that would lay the groundwork for the future. Still underage, when sneaking into events he discovered “the sickest thing I’ve seen in my life”, and there was no going back. His DJ sets and productions began featuring this all encompassing style of driving beats and flowing melodies, combinations of highs and lows which created emotional journeys unlike anything else.

At the end of high school, he decided to take a leap for the next level, writing to Avicii’s manager: “pls give me 1 chance”. Although now a little embarrassed about actually using “pls” and “1”, his music spoke better than his grammar, and by freshman year in college he was opening for Avicii at Hollywood Bowl and launching a successful career as a professional DJ and producer.

“The best sets are ones with perfect contrasts. Contrasts are the most key things in DJ sets.”

In spanning between the EDM and Underground worlds, Spencer has had the opportunity to play at a wide range of venues, and his ingrained insight for reading the crowd has given him a unique perspective on the varying vibes of dance floors around the planet. He’s found that while he can play experimental, darker, and weirder to the electronic musically educated London crowd, his US audiences are not as accepting of the sounds that go outside of the norm. In fact, even his more standard style has received a plethora of hate mail from those who only want to hear the hits they’ve heard before, and somehow find it acceptable to write a DJ directly to tell them why they think they suck.

Fortunately, Spencer has learned to accept this as part of growth, and it has not wavered him from his goal of playing good DJ sets which do what a proper DJ set should: take the crowd on a journey through flow, emotions, and contrasts. Having learned from the legends which he feels that most kids his age aren’t exposed to, his own sound is a blend of old-school and modern influences, one that travels between melodic and euphoric, to deep and dark. One of the absolute DJ essentials that Spencer sticks to and suggests to aspiring DJs is that “contrasts are the most key things in DJ sets. If you can get the contrasts right, you’ll create moments on the dance floor”.

He says that if you’re trying to go deep the whole way, you’ll miss out on the beauty of the builds, that energy which creates the magical moments. The key is to move into that one moment where you have been reaching to get to that massive build, and when you bring the energy back the crowd goes absolutely crazy for it. Although he also loves to get deep, instead of following the trend of everyone trying to “out deep” each other, he aims to use his passion for the progressive experience to bring melody and energy to the music in both his productions and DJ sets.

This all comes through in his recently released “Illusion of Perfection”, created with simplicity and storytelling at its core. Spencer mentions that in the creation of this album, he wanted to be able to tell a story through only a limited number of channels, stripping down the excess and challenging himself to create something interesting out of the music’s basic elements.

The exploration of the power of electronic music’s emotional influence, and the stories which can be told through its production and performance, is what keeps Spencer Brown excited about continuing to do what he’s loved his whole life. By making and sharing the rhythms which drive him, he will surely continue to make an impact in the future.

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In between his busy schedule, Spencer provided an exclusive mix for Feelin’ FRISKY which will play live on Friday July 13th @ 9AM EST & will be available on-demand anytime after with a FRISKY Premium Subscription. Download our Mobile Apps & sign up for a 30-Day FREE trial now!

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