Writing and recording at the legendary Capitol Studios with just a few singles in her growing catalog, was one of the most creatively altering experiences for Gina Brooklyn. Working with producer Brian Malouf, who has worked with artists like Queen, Michael Jackson, and Madonna throughout his 40-year career, the Ohio-bred artist spent a week in Los Angeles after winning the the inaugural Djooky Music Awards in 2020. As the grand prize winner of the Djooky—global, app-driven content co-founded by Malouf—Brooklyn received a $10,000 prize, in addition to a trip to Los Angeles to work with the man himself.
Initially delayed due the pandemic in 2020, once Brooklyn arrived in LA, she laid down seven tracks with Malouf, including “Selfish Air.”
On “Selfish Air,” initially written later in 2020, Brooklyn observes how people seek validation through their other “life” on social media. Interpreting its destructive nature, Brooklyn soulfully probes Can you think for you / Here we pick and choose / No one has respect / Everything’s a mess... I want more than this world can offer.
“This is a song about social media, about people thinking so much of themselves, and just being frustrated with the whole online world and knowing that, to some extent, the world also requires us to be a part of it,” Brooklyn tells American Songwriter. “We all do this to some extent, but there’s so much selfishness in each of us.”
Along with additional co-writing sessions with Kim Bullard and musicians Sean Hurley (Morrissey, Shawn Mendes, Lana Del Rey), Dave Levita (Tim McGraw), and Victor Indrizzo (Chris Cornell, Depeche Mode), Malouf also introduced the young artist to Mollie Lehman, vice president of A&R at Atlantic Records and Sarah Yeo, an A&R Manager at Disney Music Group during her time in Los Angeles.
Working with Malouf was altering for the 20-year-old Brooklyn, who grew up in the small town of Wadsworth, Ohio and released her first single “Warning” in 2018 when she was still a teen.
“It was so encouraging to me, because there isn’t much of a music scene where I live, so being able to go back to California and have this opportunity to work with everyone just reminded me of why I do everything I do in the first place,” says Brooklyn. “It was just very uplifting.”
Now a bit older, just a few years have shifted Brooklyn’s purpose and perspective on music for the better.
“The reasons behind why I do what I do have changed for the better ultimately,” says Brooklyn. “The one thing that’s changed since that time is my intention behind why I do what I do—especially with music. I don’t write music for myself. I don’t write music to glorify myself. I view music as a service that I’m able to offer to other people.”
Ready to release more music, Brooklyn is taking her time with her songs, including the single “Being Kind,” Brooklyn’s “love letter to humanity,” which she also recorded during the Malouf sessions. “It’s a reminder that this world would be a better place if we all chose to love each other despite our differentiating opinions and beliefs,” says Brooklyn. “We have that ability to choose.”
Throughout 2020, Brooklyn continued to release several singles, including “Emmanuel,” “Who Are You Fighting For?” And “Just Be,” prior to working with Malouf with more on the way and a fuller release in the wings. “There have definitely been some up moments and some down moments,” shares Brooklyn, “but this whole pandemic enabled me to work on different aspects of music creation that I normally wouldn’t have gotten to if it didn’t happen.”
For Brooklyn, now there’s a higher intention behind her music, to help people feel understood and loved.
“That’s why I do what I do now,” says Brooklyn. “Initially, I was in music to gain attention or to get affection. I was seeking affirmation in a way that I realized could not have been fulfilled. Over time, as I’ve gotten older, as my faith has become something more important to me, music has become the service that I’m able to offer.”