The King of Pop’s nephew, Austin Brown, talks Q-Tip, OneRepublic collaborations

The King of Pop’s nephew, Austin Brown, talks Q-Tip, OneRepublic collaborations (photo)

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Austin Brown is the next generation of American pop music’s first family, The Jacksons. The son of Rebbie, the oldest musical member of the more famous troupe that includes Janet and Michael, the 25-year-old Brown was purposefully raised outside of the public sphere by his parents. But now he’s ready for his own shot at fame, with a debut EP slated for release later this summer and a full-length album in the works for early next year.

“We’ve been working on the music for the last three years for my album, 85,” Brown said by phone last week after nearly a month in New York with producer Rodney Jerkins, picking songs for the forthcoming preview. “The important thing for me about the EP is to really give people the dynamics of what we can do musically–where we can go, where we want to go, and where we want to experiment.”

Speaking of exploration, Brown will soon put the finishing touches on two collaborations–a track with OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder and another with A Tribe Called Quest maestro Q-Tip. Both pairings, he says, grew out of mutual friends and collaborators. The work with Tedder came after a DJ at Los Angeles’ KISS FM 102.7 suggested they meet because they seemed to think about music in the same way. A series of e-mails and record suggestions eventually led to a writing session in L.A.

“We have such similar writing styles in how we approach melodic structures that it felt so organic to me,” says Brown. Tedder is his contemporary, but he says Q-Tip is an idol. Even after being mentored by the entire Jackson family and Prince and after joining uncle Michael onstage at Wembley more than a decade ago, Brown seems genuinely stunned that he was able to work alongside the rapper.

“I grew up on that,” he says. “I’m one of those backpack kids, growing up loving that hip-hop vibe and era. We finally got into the room to meet and talk about music, and it went great. We said, ‘Let’s do something.'”

Despite the easy access to the entertainment industry his pedigree provides, Brown actually started his own label, The Royal Factory, to release his music. Michael taught him the importance of owning his own material and controlling how it’s used. Something else he must have learned from Michael is the power of a good video, or the ability to bring a song closer to the audience by giving it a visual context. Indeed, he offered the first look at his new album via a four-minute trailer that gives glimpses at his family, finds him walking among the stars and playing the role of a svelte, smooth-singing seducer. The trailer was directed by Tom DeSanto, the producer of X-Men and Transformers.

“I’m from the MTV generation, so music videos were everything to me. Those were my bedtime stories. That’s what I wanted to get back to with the video,” says Brown. Despite the multimedia debut, Brown says he doesn’t yet have aspirations or abilities to be a cross-platform star with fame in movies and music. “No way am I putting myself on that level.”

Brown’s humility also applies to future collaborations with members of his own family. He’s just getting his start, he says, and his skills aren’t quite ready to pair with those of a longtime mentor like Janet.

“I’ve got things I want to do to prove myself,” says Brown. “I’m not there yet.”

Do you think the legacy pressure is high for a singer like Austin Brown? And what do you think of a musician premiering music with a movie trailer?


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.