Britt and Amanda Brown Do it For Love, and a Little Money
[Editor's note: Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss's column, "Bizarre Ride," appears on West Coast Sound every Wednesday. His archives are available here.]
If you lacked directions to Britt and Amanda Brown's house in the Highland Park hills, you probably could guess the address. Look for the tea green and purple cottage with the seaweed-style fence. It's a fairy tale-eccentric house onto which you might stumble if you were 8 and lost in an enchanted forest.
This otherworldliness mirrors the married couple's endeavors. There are their bands -- the dubby and spectral Pocahaunted, and now, the cracked disco-chic of LA Vampires. There are their labels, the psychedelic and bleary Not Not Fun and Amanda's beat-centric 100% Silk. There are writing careers. Britt contributes monthly to British avant-garde magazine The Wire, for which he recently penned a cover story on Flying Lotus. Under the name M. Beth Bloom, Amanda published Drain You, her debut young-adult novel for Harper Collins. Think a sardonic Twilight set in '90s SoCal, written by the staff of My So-Called Life.
"Britt's a better writer than me. But I have the calling, the bug, so they say, but not the talent," Amanda says, smiling. This is modesty. After its July release, Publishers Weekly praised Drain You as "languid and stylish." She also recently finished a screenplay and turned in the first draft of her next YA novel, Age of Backwards.
"I'll sell my screenplay to anyone. If they're, like, 'Change everything from top to bottom,' I'd be, like 'Let's do it,' " she quips. "It's different than when we were 25. It's tougher now to be, like, 'My fucking integrity.' "
This is half truth. Since its 2004 inception, Not Not Fun has excavated gems from weird corners of contemporary music. Both NNF and 100% Silk have stuck to limited vinyl and cassette tape runs -- the most popular, Peaking Lights' 936, sold approximately 3,000 copies. NNF is nothing but integrity. Its influence within experimental circles is so strong that The Wire put the Browns on its cover and heralded them as vanguards of "hypnagogic pop."
"It took years before we knew what we wanted to do. We let it be organic and more about community. At some point, people started judging the records seriously. This is really an accidental label," Britt says.
Not Not Fun started after Britt left his staff writer position at Flaunt. He'd met Amanda during her internship for the magazine and they originally intended the imprint to be an art project. The actual marriage came a few years later.
"I was 24 and he was 26. It was like a funny movie where we were, like, 'Yeah, let's just be married,' " Amanda jokes. "Initially, we were, like, 'I guess we'll have a kid in a year.' And now it's, 'Get a kid away from me.' "
The Browns are practically the platonic ideal for young artistic couples. They run a profitable label, make interesting music at their leisure, write professionally and are impeccably stylish. Their home's interior is as invitingly odd as you'd expect: cabinets of K-pop cassettes, shelves of art and music books and a mini-shrine devoted to Amanda's literary hero, Woody Allen.
Acerbic and whimsical, the pair resembles protagonists of a good Woody Allen film from the early '90s. No smartphones or Twitter accounts. She's the neurotic, charming, bleached-blond ex-shopgirl from Malibu. He's the quieter, intellectual Dallas native with a slight mustache and a gift for sharp observations.
"We have different tastes in music and attitudes toward creativity. We love making music, but it's not in our nature to be professional touring musicians. The hunger's more there with our writing and business," Amanda says. "I don't want to go anywhere. I really want to stay right here and write. That's just my spirit."
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