Brandi Cyrus is gearing up for a big 2023. But first, New Year’s Eve is on top of mind. It’s a major holiday for the Nashville-based DJ who already has performed at the likes of Lollapalooza, New York Fashion Week, Las Vegas’ biggest nightclubs, Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, Sam Hunt’s Summer 2021 tour and Super Bowl LII.
In addition to DJing, Cyrus has weaved a career across the industry and has had roles acting, in a band and as a fashion creator. Currently, she co-hosts the podcasts Your Favorite Things with Wells Adams and Sorry We’re Stoned with mom Tish Cyrus.
Ahead of Cyrus’ biggest night of the year, she spoke with LA Confidential about her lifelong love of horses, party-essential music and the freedom of DJing.
You recently teamed up with the American Wild Horse Campaign. Why was it important for you to partner with that organization?
I think it's pretty obvious to anyone who follows me that I’m a big horse girl and have been my whole life. They've just been such a big part of my life. And so I was introduced to the American Wild Horse campaign through my friend, Kaitlynn Carter, a couple years ago, and I've always followed along with them and been supportive from afar. And then I had the opportunity to actually go on an ambassador trip with them and really just learn firsthand more about it. And so I think for people that don't know, there are all sorts of herds of wild horses that are still roaming out West and, unfortunately, the government has put in place all these different procedures to try to control their numbers and a lot of them get sent across the border to slaughter and it's very sad and the numbers are dwindling pretty quickly. I am partnering with them to raise awareness about that and put some protection in place for the wild horses so that they're around forever. They’re such an American staple and obviously animal rights of any kind are important to me, so this one hits close to home.
Nashville is your hometown and you’ve been based there for almost a decade now. There’s been a lot of change, but what continues to be special about the music scene?
There is so much change. And a lot of it is good change. And some of it's a little bittersweet, but I think the thing people love about Nashville that we'll always have is that even though we're growing and it is a big-ish city, it remains having such a small town vibe. Everyone for the most part is so nice here. Everyone's very welcoming. When people visit, I think the consensus is “Oh my gosh, people in Nashville are so nice,” you get that Southern hospitality. And then, of course, our music scene is just something you really can't find anywhere else. And the cool thing about it growing is that I think we're known primarily as a country music town, but you can really find all types of music here now and it really is just evolving in a really cool way.
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You DJ’d for Soho Nashville’s Halloween party. Do you have a different approach for DJing in Nashville versus Los Angeles, New York or a festival?
I feel like any show I go into, they're never the same. My number one rule for DJing is play to play to the crowd. You want to play to the people that you're there with and it's pretty easy to tell in the first few minutes if what you're playing hits and if it doesn't, and you have to change it as you go and be able to maneuver through different genres and different styles of music depending on what the room reacts to. I think that's part of the art of it. But I think for Nashville, it is a bit more country and stuff, but I find I'm still able to play a lot of my hip hop and electronic tracks. Hip hop and electronic has really become so mainstream and is what people listen to now, which is so cool. It's pretty rare that I'll throw a country song in, but Nashville is one of the places where I can do that. Soho House obviously, they're all over the world and so I think the members of Soho House don't have as much of a Nashville taste as a typical Nashville bar or club would. Halloween was such a fun event. I've been a founding member of Soho House for a while now and it's such a great group.
We are officially in the holiday season. What are essential songs for a New Year’s Eve party no matter the crowd?
Almost every New Year's Eve I play. It’s a pretty big holiday for me. So what I do is I actually look normally at what the No. 1 song of the year is and I kick off midnight with that song. I remember a couple years ago, Dua Lipa had the No. 1 song of the year and so we kicked off the year with that. I think another year, it was Maren Morris with “The Middle” and I had a really cool remix for that. I think that's fun to see what was the No. 1 song and it is something that 99.9% of the room is gonna know it.
But I'm such a ‘90s baby and [love the] early 2000s, so there's a couple of those 2000s songs that I have to play and I play at almost every show and it always hits so well. I think Snoop Dogg “Drop It Like It's Hot”— there's never anyone that doesn't react well to that song. I think it's so nostalgic for so many people. And another one that always hits so well and is so fun and I have a really cool remix for is Kesha’s “Tik Tok” and that's another one that I think everyone my age or even a little younger feels is so nostalgic. People love to hear those songs.
What are you looking forward to about this New Year's Eve?
I'm excited to be in Miami. I have not played a New Year’s show in Miami, so that is exciting to be somewhere new. And then also my sister Miley does her New Year's Eve show for NBC, and they film that live in Miami also. So getting to spend the week there with my family and getting to be around and watch the behind-the-scenes of her getting to prepare for that show will be really fun. Usually I have to fly out on New Year's Eve and fly across the country to go do my own shows, and this year I get to stay put and be in Miami with everybody, which is awesome.
Throughout your career, you’ve worn a lot of different hats like doing your podcasts, being on TV, being in a band. What is special to you about DJing?
For me the thing that is different about DJing is there's such freedom in it. I was in a band for years and we were assigned to a major label and I had bandmates obviously and it was really tough to always have somebody to answer to and the record label getting to drive creatively what you're doing and being able to say yes or no about budget stuff. And I just don't experience that with DJing. I have the freedom to really play what I want to play and say yes or no to the jobs that I want to. And it's also so nice too to not have to go on the road and be gone for months and months and months at a time. I think that being on tour is so glamorized, and it's rough. It's tough. You have to really, really love what you're doing and to be able to live that lifestyle and not experience burnout. And with DJing, I usually travel on the weekends. Sometimes I do have to play in two cities in one weekend, but I'm gone for three days and then I get to come back home during the week and have some normalcy and get to unplug and everything. I think that that has been such a game changer for me, just to be able to have some normalcy in my lifestyle and get to come home and recharge.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photography by: Courtesy of Brandi Cyrus