“DMV Music Benefits All,” on Dec. 8 at Songbyrd Music House in Washington D.C. will include performances by local artists, including BRASSIE.
It is no secret to those within its scope that the DMV’s music scene is one of the most uplifting communities to be a part of. One organization that is striving to highlight this value of connection is the DMV Music Alliance, “a Washington D.C.-based grassroots non-profit committed to uniting and serving the needs of the thousands of artists and industry professionals across Suburban Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia. The Alliance provides an expansive network of area and genre representatives as well as educational, networking, and financial resources to local music professionals and creates and supports strong community-based initiatives, positioning the DMV to be celebrated as a vibrant, nationally recognized music scene.”
To spread awareness and raise the funds needed to support creatives in the area, the organization is hosting an inaugural benefit concert, “DMV Music Benefits All,” on Dec. 8 at D.C.’s own Songbyrd Music House. It will feature performances by local artists, one of them being BRASSIE, an alternative singer-songwriter based out of D.C.
BRASSIE, or Rachel Brassfield, says that music has been a part of her life since a young age, as she grew up with musical parents and participated in school musicals and choirs in elementary school. She picked up the guitar in high school because she wanted to be able to accompany herself, and to this day that is still how she performs onstage – “It’s just me and my guitar.” This time was also when she began writing songs more seriously, which evolved professionally into “BRASSIE”, a persona she began to pursue about four years ago.
Her sound draws on folk, pop, and rock influences, citing bands like Glass Animals, Arctic Monkeys, The Beatles (who she grew up listening to), and pop stars like Billie Eilish and Selena Gomez that serve as some of her inspiration. She has collaborated with producers from all over, such as Elijah Cruise, to put together her solo music. BRASSIE describes herself as a songwriter first, and she is her own first audience – “For the most part, I really just write songs for myself, and it’s just a bonus if people like them and connect with them.” Her songwriting process depends on the song, she says. “But for the most part, I have to just be inspired by something to spark an idea. It could be a movie I watched or something someone said to me, or a dream … It could be anything.” She describes how she utilizes her time doing otherwise-considered “mindless” tasks by thinking of new lyrics and melodies.
You may have seen BRASSIE’s debut performances at the legendary 9:30 Club and Lincoln Theater, supporting Daði Freyr and Barns Courtney respectively, which she explains are two of her most notable performances. It was a full circle moment for Brassfield, who actually worked at 9:30 and Lincoln for most of her young adult life. “It was definitely a really special moment in my career as a musician, but also as a person,” she says, now able to make memories with her “work family” in a different way as an artist, performing on the same stage as so many artists she looks up to. “I just love all the venues in D.C. really,” she says. “I’m so grateful for all the venues who have let me perform on their stage.” Another local venue that sticks out to her is DC9 Nightclub. “I’ve played a few shows there and it’s just always a great show,” she says. “They treat me so well over there and the sound is always great … It’s always such a great vibe at that place.”
The support within the DMV music scene is like no other, she says, which is why she plans to stay in the area. Part of this communal atmosphere is due to organizations that keep these connections alive, such as the DMV Music Alliance, who BRASSIE thinks is great to further unify the scene. “So far working with them has been a great experience,” she says. “The show hasn’t even happened and they’ve treated me so well and professionally.” Here in D.C. everyone wants to help everyone else, she says. “I have never felt so supported by fellow musicians and fellow music lovers, and I’ve visited places–Nashville, L.A., and New York–and you do not get that same type of support from within your community.” She is excited for this year’s benefit concert because it is more than a show; it’s a forum. She’s also excited to play at Songbyrd specifically, as she hasn’t yet visited its new location in Union Market.
The feelings that she gets at shows are what draw her to performing. “I guess not the feeling before [them], because I actually get really, really, really nervous for shows, which is good,” she says. To combat her nerves, she makes sure to be mentally prepared and know everything ahead of time: the space, her set, and other details that make her feel more prepared. “When I’m performing, I feel sort of more connected to myself and more connected to the people who are listening … And that’s a connection that I can’t experience any way else or anywhere else,” she says. Her adrenaline rush when she hits the stage usually outweighs any remaining nerves. Although she describes her music as quite dark, “If anyone can connect to what I’m talking about, then maybe they can feel less alone if they’ve felt that way,” she says.
Familiarize yourself with BRASSIE’s music before you catch her performance at the DMV Music Alliance Inaugural Benefit Concert on Dec. 8, which you can find more information about and buy tickets to attend here. She is currently working on a ton of projects – “Hopefully those will make it across the finish line and we’ll see a lot of music next year coming out.”
Emma Page, a recent Journalism graduate of The George Washington University, possesses a passion for music journalism and storytelling in all its forms. Originally from Baltimore, MD, when she is not writing, she can be found at a local concert or making music of her own.
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