Hazel Brown in a triple threat: musician, label founder, studio director, and probably the best dancer in sneakers born after 1980. Okay, so she’s more like a quadruple threat. It’s pretty insane that the same girl is behind Two Bright Lakes, easily one of the freshest labels in the country, and School House Studios, a creative space so dynamic it’s like grown up Degrassi Junior High. Considering all this, we’re insanely stoked to have such a multi-faceted babe DJ-ing our first birthday this week. We grabbed her for a quick chat about what she’s up to and how to be a stone cold legend.
GGG: How did Two Bright Lakes start up?
Hazel: I had been recording music with friends who had also made records (around early 2007) and we wanted to release the music to world and celebrate with memorable arts events. This triggered conversation of what it means to release music and we decided we wanted to pool resources, learn new skills and keep control of our copyright.
Was there anything you felt lacking in the industry that you wanted to add to it?
To be honest we were new to the industry when we started the label, so it was more a scenario where we learnt from fellow indie labels (like Unstable Ape, Candle, Lost and Lonesome and Remote Control) about the business and the industry. We began to see that artists on majors were presented with all these dreamy career promises and offered little in the way of support for multiple creative outlets so we put a lot of energy into helping artists utilise their skills in other mediums such as creative writing, poetry, photography, animation and illustration.
How did being a musician yourself help shape the label?
Wearing both label manager and musician hats was a challenge and a blessing. As the label manager I was always able to put myself in the artist’s shoes, which was great for our artists but sometimes meant the label suffered!
Are you able to do it full time now?
Hell no! I wish haha. I share the load with Blake Byron-Smith and Tig Huggins but we’ve all got fingers in many other pies so we’re not able to do it five days. I also co-manage artist studios in Collingwood called Schoolhouse Studios which I love, and it takes up about three days a week.
It feels like you’re always involved in so many different things.
As I said, I work at Schoolhouse Studios with my cousin Alice Glenn too. We’re about to launch our inaugural exhibition program in the Long Division gallery on December 4th which is going to be really exciting. Apart from that, lately I’ve been really getting into hobbies; doing things for fun, not for financial or career ends. I’ve been learning Auslan from my friend Geoff at the studios, trying to go surfing once a week, and painting flowers with water colours on my porch.
Are you still able to make music in between all this?
Yes. Although I no longer have ambitions to tour or even play live, writing songs is still very close to my heart. I am currently writing very simple folk songs on my nylon string guitar which is something I’ve always wanted to do. I write very very slowly which suits me fine, about a song a year (laughs).
What has been the biggest challenge?
Probably endless unpaid hours and having to self evaluate all the time.
What’s the most satisfying part of your work?
Working with such close friends and helping nurture their amazing talents!
You work closely with your sister Martha, were you guys musical as kids?
We both went to a Steiner School, so yes! We were always playing instruments be it recorder, violin/viola, piano or guitar.
Do you think you would have arrived at this point if you didn’t have creative siblings?
Probably not no. My big sister Grace was the first person to teach me some chords on guitar when I was about 12, she really ignited that interest and she’s always been incredibly supportive of everything Martha and I did. Martha has always been a huge motivator for my singing and song writing. We’re all very close and I feel very grateful for that.
What have you learnt from being from a creative environment?
There’s something very liberating about being around creative people all the time. Even though a lot of the work I do in the office is very admin heavy, working alongside other creative businesses and artists (at Schoolhouse Studios) allows me access to a special mentality that nothing is impossible and that silliness, play and experimentation are paramount.
You do so much, when you feel creatively exhausted, what do you do?
To be honest at the moment I am feeling more administratively exhausted and I am craving more creativity, I want to make something with my hands. Maybe I just need to bake a cake.