DJ Brian Norwood was born during the first seedlings of dance music as we know it today were sprouting. In 1971, the Tea Dance at Fire Island’s Blue Whale were settling in as ritual and David Mancuso’s infamous “The Loft” parties in NYC, which are the genesis of the Saint parties, were just getting started. Being born in the music-rich environment of Nashville would be a harbinger of things to come. And being born in that era would greatly impact his career.
In the early 90’s, Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love, would open its arms to Brian. This move to a more urban environment and being within the twinkle of NYC skyscrapers, is an important transition not only in geography, but of musical awakening. In ’93, after attending a seminal Saint-At-Large White Party with all its intendant revelry, he felt an overwhelming drive to cultivate music and learn to mix. Vinyl was still the preferred medium for DJ’s, which gives Brian the unique perspective of being among the younger DJ’s still spinning today who teethed on vinyl. After coming back to Philly from the White Party, he bought his first set of turntables and honed his mixing skills as a bedroom DJ: after nine months he felt ready to move on to a live setting.
In ’94, Brian caught the attention of the organizers for the Blue Ball Recovery Brunch, a soft landing event following the headlining Blue Ball party circuit party. It was at this event that Brian knew his path was the correct one. At the culmination of his set, his mentor DJ Buc was among the first to applaud and everyone rose to their feet in a thundering ovation. The die was cast and Brian would headline this event for the next three years. It is here that he would establish himself as a circuit class DJ and in ’98 received the nod to play the premier Philly event, The Blue Ball. This event segued into a residency at the Philly mega club, Shampoo, of which he held reign from ’98 through 2000.
The new millennium was a decade of self discovery, purging, and enlightenment. His mentor Buc passed away during this time and personal issues separated him from his love of playing to a live audience. He continued to play music when the opportunity arose, but the underground music culture and Brian himself were changing.
In 2010, a move to Chicago was reinvigorating and Brian started a podcast shortly thereafter. It was energizing to see his listenership grow exponentially and it put him on the radar of promoters all over America. The notable gigs he has played are too many to count, but include, Flagging In The Park (San Francisco), Club Cielo (New York City), Pines Party (Fire Island Pines), Masked Leather Ball (Ft. Lauderdale), Epic Maui Journey (Maui), Evolution of a Dancer (New York City) and Sanctuary (Atlanta).
His Sophisticated Morning & Sophisticated Chill podcasts continue to be a major asset to his career and something his fans await with eagerness. These sets are just as their name implies: percolating, hazy, gently rising to an alert state. However, to those unfamiliar with his breadth of music, it would be unfair to characterize him as a morning music only DJ. It is unlikely that you would have heard music and music mixed like this anywhere else. Brian learned this style from his mentor, DJ Buc, and the influence of playing unique, obscure and ethereal songs is unmistakable. This is a true artist that isn’t stuck in a genre, who can play for long sets and adjust to a crowd. This was evident in being selected to play the benchmark event, Pines Party After-party on Fire Island. It is a crowning achievement to be invited to play this event: only the very best are chosen to play for this demanding crowd. Followers of the Pines Party are hardcore dancers and flaggers who pay for a chance to hear DJ’s that are considered the best in the world. The reaction to Brian’s set was overwhelmingly positive.
In closing, it is difficult to express with words something as nuanced as music by a sublime DJ. But to paraphrase an old saying, you know it when you hear it. He is extremely particular about the events that he will spin. It is a near guarantee that if he’s spinning it…it’s going to be major.
Brian’s podcasts can be found HERE