Belle of the Ball

Mad Decent Block Party returns to Cuthbert with DJ Brazzabelle


Mad Decent Block Party, the traveling circus of dirty bass selling out shows nationwide and making Rolling Stone’s list (again) of “Summer’s 50 Must-See Music Festivals,” returns to Cuthbert Sept. 12 to ensure you end your summer with a bass drop.

(And if last year is any indication, expect neon rave-wear, DayGlo furries, high-waisted shorts and the resulting sea of butt cheeks. Oh yeah, and maybe six attendees over the age of 22.)

Mad Decent, the name of the Los Angeles-based label crafted by Wesley Pentz (universally known as Diplo) has been bringing together the best in the electronic music business with the annual Block Party for the past couple years.

This year’s line up includes Diplo’s own Major Lazer, whose recent transfixing hit, “Lean On” (featuring MO with DJ Snake), snagged the number-one spot on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Chart as well as number four on Billboard’s Hot 100. Lazer’s newest album, Peace Is the Mission, blurs lines and morphs genres by featuring several mainstream pop artists such as Ariana Grande and Ellie Goulding, even channeling Aqua of ’90s earworm “Barbie Girl.”

Joining him will be a who’s who of millennial music: What So Not, RL Grime, Keys N Krates, Oliver Heldens, tropical house DJ Thomas Jack and DJ Brazzabelle.

Brazzabelle, née Boots Bowles, has been at the forefront of women kicking ass in the nightlife-DJ music scene since she began spinning in 2010. EW caught up the 24-year-old DJ and producer to talk about her growing career, thriving in a male-dominated industry and staying humble.

Since beginning her career, Bowles has played alongside big names like Calvin Harris, Porter Robinson, Laidback Luke and Martin Solveig.

“I think one of my favorite ‘whoa’ moments was when Adventure Club played my remix of ‘What Is Love’ at Coachella,” she says. “Once I heard that, I was running around my house screaming.”

While garnering a great deal of success, Bowles recognizes the problematic trend of male artists being “DJs” while women are delegated to being called “female DJs,” but she emphasizes that what really matters is the music.

“If you have good songs, you have good songs — and those are always going to be recognized. It’s almost an advantage [to be a woman] because you have an edge; you’re unique,” she says.

Judging by the unwavering smile on her face during every performance, it’s pretty clear that Bowles is the kind of girl you want to party with — just take a gander at her Instagram (@brazzabelle) and you’ll wish you were having that much fun.

“I don’t really know if the feeling of sharing my music with people can be described,” she says. “Sometimes I’ll kind of stop moving and take a moment to look out into the crowd. I feel on top of the world.”

Creating club-bangers might be her specialty, but Brazzabelle explains that people can look forward to hearing more emotion, whether lyrically or otherwise, in the future.

“The reason I got into making music was, growing up, music touched me so much,” she says. “If I ever needed to feel determined to do something or if a boy broke up with me or whatever the scenario, there was a song I could relate to.” She adds, “I wanted the power to create music that makes people feel something.”

Get your Mad Decent Block Party on 4 pm Saturday, Sept. 12, at Cuthbert Amphitheater; $49. 18 and over.