Michaël Brun's new EP has almost three times as many guests as it does tracks. And he's keen on you knowing about them.
The first tune on Fami Summer, which arrived July 21, features SAINt JHN, Charly Black and J Perry, with an uncredited J Balvin verse. "Shut Up & Dance" is augmented by King Promise, Kes and Anthony Ramos. The third and final cut, "Closer," enlists Stalk Ashley and Kojey Radical.
But it's not guests for the sake of guests: the Haitian DJ and producer does everything with keen intentionality. "Everybody has a perspective," Brun tells GRAMMY.com. "The chance, the opportunity, to bring my culture and all these amazing artists from Haiti and around the world in one space was something that I've always wanted to do."
He's referring to his volcanic SummerStage performance in New York's Central Park, a day after Fami Summer's release. But it applies to that EP, and his artistic presence writ large.
Brun was brought up in Haiti, where he was exposed to a multiplicity of sounds and styles; as the years rolled on, he acutely perceived the Caribbean's ripple effects, between its various islands and around the world. Accordingly, "I felt like the EP could really encapsulate all the different things that made me who I am as an artist today," he says.
Read on for an in-depth interview with Brun about his globe-spanning Summerstage performance, his impressive roster of guests on Fami Summer and the complicated and evolving role of Haiti in the global music landscape.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Tell me about your recent Summerstage performance. How did it feel up there?
That was, like, a personal achievement. I've been dreaming about a show like that most of my life. I got to bring out so many iconic artists from Haiti. We had, like, 5,000 people out there.
Tell me about those artists you brought onstage.
I had a really, really big group of artists that joined. For the opening, there was DJ KOLO, a great DJ from Haiti. Right now, he has his own scene that he's been working on in the north. He has a lot of house music influences, Afrotech influences.
And then, Paul Beaubrun, who's a really good friend — one of the original people I started with, like seven years ago. He has an incredible band.
So, they performed, and then during my set, the idea behind this show is: I DJ and MC, but then bring out all these different surprise guests throughout the night. Each of the surprise guests is really meaningful to me in different ways, and some of them are from Haiti.
One example is Naika. There was another artist called Anie Alerte. One more is J Perry, who [worked with me on] my new song, "Jessica," on my EP.
So, those are some of the Haitian artists, but then I also had Saint Levant, who worked on my recent song, "Sak Pase." And Joeboy from Nigeria. Anthony Ramos. So, there's a really interesting mix of all kinds of artists from around the world that I've collaborated with.
For the people who came to the show, they were just hearing the set, and there were surprises every five minutes, which is pretty nuts.
Joeboy was one of the first Afrobeats artists I interviewed when I got hired at GRAMMY.com. What do you take away from him?
I love Joeboy. I've known him for a few years through Mr Eazi, because I worked really closely with Mr Eazi for a while; now, he's become a really close friend.
[Joeboy and I] actually have a new song that's going to come out soon, called "Game Over." We premiered it at the show, and actually shot the music video the day before. So, he came from Nigeria, and that was one of the really big surprises I'm happy we got to make.
You released three singles earlier in 2023; now, you're back with new music. Tell me about your creative path to this new EP, Fami Summer.
This year's releases are my first releases with a major. My entire career, I've been indie. I just always felt like I didn't want to do any kind of label partnership until I found partners that really believed in the vision that I had.
As an artist, I've always wanted to make music that builds bridges around the world. So, I felt like with the first three releases, we really focused in on specific areas around the world.
So, "Clueless" was Nigeria, with Oxlade. "Charge It" really felt that confluence. That was with Bayka, who's actually from Kingston; Masego has Jamaican heritage; every time I ever linked with Jozzy, she always talked about how much she loved the dancehall. Then, "Sak Pase" with Saint Levant and Lolo [Zouaï] was very Arabic influenced.
With the EP … I really wanted to bring together my personal heritage as much as possible, which is a mixed Caribbean heritage. There's as much Haitian influence as there is Guyanese influence as there is Jamaican as there is West African, by way of the UK and Europe.
I think because I grew up in Haiti, I was exposed to so many different styles — so many different languages and sounds. So, I felt like the EP could really encapsulate all the different things that made me who I am as an artist today.
Musically, where do all these strains of influence connect for you?
I feel like around Haiti in particular, there's such an interesting history of multiple countries having links to that part of the world.
So, whether it's European presence, whether it's the incredible West African presence that still exists today … if you even look at the different languages that are spoken throughout the Caribbean, whether it's English or Creole or French mixed with our local languages … In Haiti, we have Creole; but then in Jamaica, there's patois.
All those things are kind of related. If you didn't really know that, you might see them as disparate parts of the world. But really, I think the Caribbean is just as Latin as it is African as it is European as it is local and native. I feel like that diversity of sound is what makes the Caribbean what it is — about diversity of culture.
I grew up traveling to Guyana, and I grew up in Haiti. Sometimes, I would come to the States, and I had a chance to go to Europe and West Africa. All of these different influences, I think, made me appreciate different sounds.
That's how I approached every single song: I wanted this to be the truest version of myself, to the music and the collaborators as well.
Can we do a lightning round where you talk about the special guests on the EP, starting with Anthony Ramos?
Anthony, I linked with a couple of years ago now, and we've been working on music and became such good friends. He's one of the most talented people I've ever met. I think most people know him as an actor, but he's also an amazing dancer and singer. He can rap; he can write. It inspires me a lot.
Charly Black is such a legend. Like, "Gyal You a Party Animal" is one of the biggest Jamaican hits, I think, in the last decade. And that's one of the songs that truly crosses over, because it's something you can hear at any bar, anywhere in the world.
When I went to Kingston earlier this year and had a chance to work with him — especially on the song "Jessica," to get his voice and perspective — that was so cool.
J Perry is actually my cousin; we grew up making music together. He also happens to be, in my opinion, the best hook maker in the world. So undeniable, so catchy, and I think every time we've ever worked together, there's been only great stuff that's come from it.
Kes is from Trinidad, and he has really been my doorway into soca culture and Trinidadian culture. He also has become such a great friend. I feel like the way that he approaches his craft is very similar to my own. It's been so cool with that cultural exchange; we talk a lot about history, actually.
King Promise is, in my opinion, one of the rising stars of Ghana. His hook on "Shut Up & Dance" was so infectious. I remember I sent him that beat a few years ago, and he came back within, like, five minutes. We actually met finally properly in person on Saturday, at my show. He's such a cool guy and really embraced being part of this project.
We linked up last year for the first time, and I was a huge fan of his project. I felt like his artistry, aesthetic and vision are so unique. He's really, really versatile. His voice is really powerful. I'm grateful to see an artist always open-minded to try new things, but also very much themselves the whole way through.
My guy and my brother. We linked up five or six years ago. I feel like he played me his first collection way, way back through a mutual friend. To see his career rise and everything that he's done has been so cool.
Finally, we have Stalk Ashley.
I actually also met her on my Kingston trip earlier this year, and she is so amazing. Such a sweet person — super, super talented. We actually worked on that song together, maybe the second day that I was in Jamaica, and it just came so naturally. She's really inspiring, and I'm a fan of her music.
From there, can you talk about the role J Balvin plays in the EP, and in your musical world at large?
We've worked on so many projects over the years. We first linked up for the World Cup in 2018, and had a song called "Positivo," and then worked on his  album Positivo.
We won a Latin GRAMMY from that, and have also been working on a lot of other projects throughout the years and become really, really close friends. He's been an amazing mentor, and also a great collaborator, and I've learned so much through him.
He also introduced me to so many amazing people, like Ed Sheeran. I think with the song "Jessica," it's our first true collaboration for my project. It couldn't have been a more perfect time, because it was right in the center of where our tastes align.
We've been working for years and years, and I feel like we're going to keep working, as well, in the future. To hear him sing in Creole on our song is really, really exciting. I'm grateful to him for opening his world to my songs and my audience, and I feel like we've influenced each other quite a bit.
Before we go, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this: as borders continue to evaporate in the music industry, where does Haiti fit into this puzzle?
I think Haiti's impact in music and culture has been around, like, low-key.
So, even if we go to the most obvious Haitian success story, which, in my opinion, is Wyclef and the Fugees, I think their impact is maybe a little bit understated still today — because The Score is still [one of the top] selling rap albums in history.
To have a Haitian voice have such a huge impact, and then be such a prolific producer, bringing a Haitian flag on TV on the biggest award shows like the GRAMMYs and all kinds of really incredible places — I think that paved the way for future success stories.
And two more recent ones that I know personally are D'Mile and Kaytranada — two artists that have done such incredible things in their respective spaces.
I think the Haitian success stories have been there, but they're not, I think, going to start becoming way more forward facing, as opposed to being more in the background, just because the world's starting to be more open to different languages and new sounds.
I feel like my place in all this is: I feel like a bridge between the diaspora and Haiti. I feel like I'm super connected to both sides of my heritage. I've worked so hard to create a space that feels very welcoming, that feels like a way for people to reconnect with their culture.
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