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Rising Stars: Meet KB Brannan

Today we’d like to introduce you to KB Brannan.

Hi KB, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I started my DJ career in 2011 at a well-known DJ company called Absolute Entertainment in Maryland. Luckily, the company offered to teach me how to DJ even though I didn’t have any prior experience. I started off working part-time in the office as an Admin Assistant and would work weekends as a Wedding DJ assistant. Eventually, I started DJing my own gigs and worked my way up to a full-time position in the office as Director of Operations. After about four years, I decided to go out on my own. I started investing in my own DJ/audio equipment and booking my own events. With the help of Wendy and Tawni of S.H.E Productions, I landed my first bar/nightclub gig. Even though I was nervous, it went well and I became addicted to the bar/nightclub DJ scene. So for the next four years, I expanded my network in the nightlife events industry, progressed to DJing 3 events a week, and became a well-known DJ in the DMV LGBTQIA+ club scene. Once COVID-19 hit, the event industry went dark and I only DJ’d a couple of small private events during that time. Today, the event industry is starting to open back up and my schedule is filling up!

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It hasn’t been a smooth road for me, but I do recognize that it has been smoother for me than it has been for others. I got into DJing because I was denied admission to a school for recording arts back in 2011. After graduating from Towson University in 2010 with a Bachelor’s in Social Science, I did some soul searching and realized that I still wanted to pursue a career in the Audio Engineering Industry. So, I went to The Sheffield Institute for the Recording Arts for an admission interview. At the end of the tour/interview, the interviewer asked me if I had any audio experience to which I replied, “No.” The interviewer then told me that they wouldn’t accept me because I didn’t have any experience. Feeling defeated but also motivated, I went searching for a way to gain experience. Randomly searching on Craigslist one day, I found the ad for a DJ assistant with Absolute Entertainment. Fast forward to 2019, I still want to attend The Sheffield Institute for the Recording Arts to pursue Audio Engineering. I go in for another interview and I tell the interviewer about my experience in my last interview there. The interviewer apologizes profusely and tells me that shouldn’t have happened because they let people in without experience all the time! Although that was a bit frustrating, I am grateful that I threw myself into DJing because it has become something I am passionate about.

I also struggled with alcoholism throughout my life. Being entrenched in the nightlife scene didn’t help my alcoholism. It only exacerbated the problem. There were times where I would wake up the next morning after a gig and not remember the last half of the night. I wouldn’t remember what I played, if I DJ’d well at all, if there were any hiccups, who I talked to, etc. Eventually, my alcoholism got so bad that I started ruining business and personal relationships, showing up late to work, was unhappy with my body, felt unhealthy, was in a lot of debt financially, etc. One of my favorite quotes is “People change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” And that’s what happened with me. I decided I couldn’t live that way anymore and got sober in 2019. I put myself back into therapy, joined a 12 step recovery program, and have been sober ever since. Now, I can remember my gigs, my relationships are thriving, I love my body and feel great, and I have control over my finances! I am so grateful to have made it this far, and I remember to take it one day at a time.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am an open format DJ based in Washington, DC. I am known for playing Top 40 mashups/remixes, House, Hip-Hop, and Pop in the DMV LGBTQIA+ nightlife scene. I am most proud of having DJ’d at venues like Baltimore Soundstage, Metro Gallery, Ottobar, Union Stage, Songbyrd DC, A League of Her Own, Grand Central, The Crown, and more. I am great at reading the room and adjusting my style accordingly. I am always on the lookout for the newest mixes and am constantly honing my skills on the decks.

What would you say have been one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?
The most important lesson I have learned along my journey is to do the thing even though you’re scared. I believe that is the definition of courage and bravery. It’s never going to be as bad as you imagine it in your mind. It’s actually probably going to be better than you could have ever imagined. And, you won’t believe the opportunities that present themselves from putting yourself out there.

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