Brian d’Souza is a musical polymath – by day, managing director and founder of Open Ear, a music playlisting agency that is re-inventing the background music space, by night award-winning DJ, producer and live performer with the alias Auntie Flo (a tribute to his Goan roots).
Since bursting onto the electronic music scene in 2010 when he was proclaimed as ‘one of the most original production talents of recent times’ (Crack Magazine), Brian has toured the world with his unique take on global music. The Guardian proclaimed he was ‘taking world music into the future’ and the Wire stated he is a ‘central figure of a new strand of club music’. This year has seen him headlining the inaugural We Out Here festival curated by the influential BBC DJ Gilles Peterson, pick up a SAY award for Scottish Album of the Year and be awarded Scottish Electronic Musician of the Year.
So, tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Brian D’Souza, part Scottish from Glasgow, part Goan, or ‘Glas-goan’ as I like to think of it. I live in London where I work in music, running the music playlist agency Open Ear by day and DJ-ing under the moniker Auntie Flo by night.
Which artists have been the greatest influence on your musical style?
Fela Kuti, the first time I heard Fela was a game changer. I had previously immersed myself with predominantly western sounds- disco, house, techno and Fela’s afrobeat opened up a door to the rest of the world for me.
Matias Aguayo, a great innovator and visionary, with a niche following that should be much more widely known. The way he fuses latin music with upfront club sounds showed me that a new world of music was possible. Like Fela, the performative nature of his live sets stand him apart.
Tim Hecker, hearing Tim Hecker live for the first time helped change my perception of what is possible with music. More sculptural than song based, Tim’s music transcends time and affects your whole body, as well as your mind.
What is your cuisine of choice?
Probably a Goan Fish Curry. But anything Indian is good for me!
Are there any restaurant spots back home in Glasgow you would like to share with our readers?
Mother India is the best Indian restaurant in Glasgow. A legendary spot that has been around for years. One thing I really miss about not living in Glasgow is the Pakora! London needs to start offering it!
Crabshakk, when this opened across from our Glasgow office, it heralded the first of a new wave of restaurants in the Finnieston area that is now a destination for good food in Glasgow.
Monorail, Glasgow has been awarded for its Vegetarian restaurants and Monorail (alongside sister restaurants 78 and Saramago). It has the brilliant Mono records attached to it, which is a bonus!
You also work for OpenEar a music streaming service for businesses, particularly bars and restaurants, tell us a little about that?
I set up Open Ear 12 years ago. I’d just finished a degree in psychology and masters in sound design and I’m fascinated by the ways in which sound (and music) affects us in our every day lives.
In university, I got a first hand insight into this by DJing in various bars to earn some cash. I thought to myself, music is having such a big impact on everyone, but no one is really taking note. So Open Ear is based on these two sides – the science of music and the art of music curation.
From the early days from my bedroom to where we are at now, with a global business working with thousands of respected brands it has been quite a journey! Our basic mission remains the same – to help businesses use music effectively so they create the best listening experiences for their customers.
The struggle is real though, our culture is dominated by what we see, not what we hear – music is criminally undervalued! Open Ear’s task is to help prove to business our ears are open(!) and what we hear is just as important.
Do you have any interesting food related facts?
FACT – I don’t eat chocolate. I developed an intolerance to it when I was around 5 years old whilst on holiday in France. I ate a blue Smartie and promptly spat it out. Haven’t eaten chocolate since!