It’s not hard to differentiate the handiwork of Super Duper Brick from other creatives; not only by listening to his music but in whatever medium the dynamic artist chooses to express himself through at any given moment. Walking into Los Angeles’ Undergrind Cafe, several snapshots from his photography catalogue instantly pop out from the wall adjacent to the condiment bar: a levitating KYLE frozen in mid-ascent; a grasping hand stretching out from within a cereal box; a peppy still shot of the mastermind himself and his towering flat-top; each photo given a colorful yet plain treatment that’s reminiscent of what you might find in a modern art museum.
“I just gave them to the shop because they’re really cool people and they gave me free food when I had no bread,” he says with a laugh. “I was here the first day they opened this store. Support black businesses!”
Starting at a young age, Brick began to foster that imaginative spirit and says his “anxiety to express an idea” is what first got him into making music. Although he was born in the hub for creativity known as Los Angeles, he found more inspiration in the small town of Raeford, North Carolina, about 40 minutes from Fayetteville with a population of less than 5,000. For almost eight years, Brick lived with his mother in Raeford, where he had to stretch his brain to think of new ways to entertain himself in the absence of technology and urban activity.
“I had a real opportunity to be a kid out there, just going into the woods and finding canine skulls, lighting shit on fire, building teepees and revisiting them until they broke down,” he says. “That really made me think outside of the box, because there was nothing, and you had to do something. I was really out there being a child, I think that influenced me a lot.”
Now 21 years old, that youthful spirit is running on all cylinders, permeating much of what Brick has produced thus far in what is becoming a promising career. Along with KYLE and the rest of the Super Duper crew, Brick, born Justin Brick Howze, made a name for himself with bright, joyous sounds and intricately-choreographed live shows, encouraging cheesy smiles and summertime nostalgia. Most recently, he crafted the bubbly beat to KYLE and Kehlani’s collaborative single, “Playinwitme,” honing his production skills before focusing more on his own, individual career.
“I’ve been wanting to do a project forever, but I was never good enough because I’ve only been producing for three years,” he says. “I’m still not good enough, but I just realized that I’ll never be perfect, so I was like ‘fuck it, I might as well let people start watching the process from here.’”
Brick is planning on releasing his debut project sometime this summer—following the May 18 release of KYLE's Atlantic debut, Light of Mine—which will expand on his familiar video-game aesthetic to include a wider range of sonics that will keep listeners on their toes. He says he’s recently learned how to speak Portuguese, a new skill which might appear on the album as well.
“It’ll be a dabble of Brazil, with some weird percussions, and just no rules,” he says. “It’s all set in a video game, somehow. I don’t really know how to describe it, I’m really doing whatever. We’re going to find out what it is; I think it’s going to make its own genre.”
The level of ambition behind his debut project is unsurprising, considering Brick’s eclectic creative output thus far. The artist prides himself on his vast array of skills and talents, although he admits it has made branding himself much more of a challenge.
“I just see everything as free creation, there’s no limits or boundaries,” he says. “If I want to make an arcade and draw out floor plans and membership cards, I’ll do that. If I want to make a beat, I’ll do that. If I want to just sit at the piano and not make a beat, I’ll do that.”
Rather than define his potential in any one specific field, Brick prides himself on the ability to weave between them all at will.
“I have so many mediums, I don’t know what kind of artist I am. Am I an architect, a producer, an open heart surgeon? I don’t know. But I don’t want to pick, what’s the point of choosing?”
While he remains steadfast in his belief that a hesitancy to hone in on a single industry won't impact his long-term success, Brick relishes in the fact that he won’t have to rely on social media to maintain his way of life when his time in the spotlight has passed.
“I’ve acquired so many skills that I’ll never need to be famous to survive,” he says. “I don’t need to have a bunch of followers to do some teen promotion. Once Instagram’s not cracking and people start losing their followers, a lot of people aren’t going to have anything, but I’m taking piano lessons, watching my Dave Pensado tutorials every day, just learning. That’s my goal in life, to know how to do everything a little bit.”
Brick might be looking forward to the day he can call himself a master at everything he puts his mind to, but currently, he’s modest about his level of expertise, a modesty that is driving him to align his vision with reality.
“Right now, I do everything okay. When I’m like 29, I’ll be a n*gga who can do everything well. When I’m 40, god damn!” he says with a laugh. “I’ll be a legend. It’s just a slow build, heavy grind, brick by brick.”