Since the release of their first EP ‘Foundation’ in 2018, husband and wife Ann Digiovanni and Joseph Leukzak, the AKA indie-pop duo have garnered their own appreciation from Cable Bricks, Vents Magazine and all Access choices. Their music blends the sounds and styles of rock, pop and dance songs they’ve heard over the years and their new single “Big Girl Shoes” is no different. The pop-rapped pair caught up with the pair to learn more about the story and the inspiration of the track and what they got in store for the rest of the year.
How did you come up with the name BRICS? Is there a special meaning or presentation behind it?
Our name comes from a song by Vamps called “Risk It All” – I’d rather crash, I’d rather crawl / Just break my love with bricks / Never had your love / For you, I’ve risked it all – and it’s our memory Making it clear that we are involved in taking risks in everything we are really interested in in life, including getting married and releasing music, but we need to be prepared to take that leap, even if we ‘fall again’ and sometimes fail.
Can you tell if someone else brought this pair? What are each other’s strengths and talents?
Ann: In addition to a great understanding of melody, Joseph engineered our recordings and produced our sound. He basically runs our record label including distribution and marketing – releasing our music on DSPs, running social media ads to get new followers, pitching our songs to playlists – I’m not really sure how he does it.
Joseph: Ann is the creative force behind all of our songwriting, not to mention any amazing vocalists. He is the one who forces me to write regularly when what I really want to do is shut down my brain and get wet. He is constantly coming up with great melodic and lyrical ideas and to be honest, if we didn’t have any social media it wouldn’t be present.
As husband and wife, how do you separate your personal, married life from your professional, or do they tend to be together in any way? Do you see this as a good or bad thing?
We struggle to be completely honest by separating the two. When we write a song in the studio, when we cook dinner for two, there is no easy way to separate and separate each other – we are who we are! It gets exciting at times, especially since we’ve been spending so much more time together since 2020. But being creative and writing together was part of our relationship and we won’t trade that connection, so we always work in progress with our partnership, other Trying to listen to the person better, be more open and less responsive and keep things fun and interesting.
Tell me something about your new single “Big Girl Shoes”. Where did the idea for this come from?
A: Several years ago, a male colleague saw me climb into the elevator wearing high heels and said, “Oh, are you wearing your eldest daughter’s shoes today?” In patronage, almost in a sarcastic tone. I wore the flat the night before, which he clearly noticed. I don’t know what to say so I somehow laughed. I’m contemptible, slanderous, but I’m not sure if what he said was offensive or problematic. It took a while to process this moment and determine how to react to this workplace that confidently shows what women are fighting for in the workplace and our co-author Samantha Margaret truly illustrates this invaluable understanding, empathy and vocabulary in Song Out. The “big girl’s shoes” need to look feminine but not too sexy as a double-binded metaphor that overweight women work on their normal work responsibilities. Needless to say, we do this for 72 cents per dollar for men, and the pay gap and microgragation in the workplace – and the apparent abuse – are both worse for black and black women. It doesn’t happen in the case of most straight white men that what they wear can change their work day and career path. So, we thought, let’s flip it in this lift dude and leave it to my older daughter to try to walk a mile in her shoes, see what she does.
Jay: Coming from a straight white man, I agree with what Ann said!
Is there a specific story or idea behind this video?
Jay: The video for “Big Girl Shoes” takes a look at what happened to Ann and portrays the man as his own – or three – in our case – an exaggerated – or sometimes not – portraying me as a woman at work. Moving away from the realm of my own experience, I am excited to play the role of this villain, a woman who feels completely entitled to what she wants, engages in this bad or questionable behavior, and move on regardless. We’ve learned to invite men through women’s eyes and literally go “walk a mile in these high heel boots,” which I learned is no joke to make for the most part of a 12-hour video shoot. And I like to think that my characters have also learned something about the power dynamics against women and when they carry burdens to make success heavier.
During the shooting of the video for “Big Girl Shoes”, it was really important for us to make sure that our entire crew was female / non-binary and we were really proud to have achieved the goal. We’ve all heard the unusual stereotypes of female producers, directors and cinematographers around Hollywood – like the music industry – and given the theme of this song, so we wanted to solve that uniqueness in our own way. Our director Rebecca Escreis was a wonderful partner in achieving that goal, pulling the highly ambitious story from the day of the shooting and doing it during a global epidemic.
Lyricically and artistically, both as an individual or as a band, who or what inspired you the most, and how do those effects shape your music?
We love other artists who have a strong sense of melody and whose beat is positive, strong and uplifting – the lyrics don’t have to match, in fact we love a good sad bop. The fifth example is ABBA, and we both grew up in Billy Joel and are usually pop radio hits. Lately, we’ve been inspired by some great Well and Indie artists: Frankie, Little Pool, The Mogulis, who just broke up, we’re very sorry. Ann has recently been inspired by female singer-songwriters with punk / emo trap / well pop words like Carly Hanson and Bello. Joseph’s listening habit tends to be an alternative rock, but he’s sucking for Poppy’s tune, whatever the genre. He is currently vibrating artists to include Charlotte Sands, Fanny Anderson, Twenty One Pilots, AJR and Blue Detector.
You’ve received coverage and praise from Atwood Magazine, All Access and Music Connection choices, among others, but what do you think the critics and their opinions care about? What is the best thing anyone has ever said or written about you and how would you handle any negative press or commentary that comes your way?
We are artists with fragile arrogance, of course take care of us! But we try to remember that music is such a thematic subject, and when they listen to a song everyone reacts and feels different. Our brand of bubble-gum pop is not for everyone. Luckily the press about our music has still been really positive, no one has clearly said we suck! People can convey in social comments and we sometimes go down when haters hate. The best thing people said was when a few fans said “your song got me through a breakup” or “this song is my life right now, wondering how to always find the right music. We know that if we go with our lyrics We are able to touch people in a personal, sensitive way but we are on the right track.
Over the past year, social media has seen an incentive for friends and family to keep in touch with Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. As an artist and as an individual, how do you feel about the power of social communication and the role it plays in so many lives?
The internet has given us this great gift in our ability to create our own music and the ability to distribute it along with the music of big label artists, but social media always acts as a necessary evil to that opportunity. You need to create and grow the following and to do this you need to feed the animal. It can pay off when sometimes you just want to focus on music, which is our core talent – where enjoyable and entertaining social content comes naturally to us. But the most important coin we are constantly learning is truth, and we only have to be who we are and show our friends and followers what it is. We certainly question the presence of social media in our own lives, because we are attracted to endless scrolls and sometimes fall into the trap of seeing what is posted as the ultimate truth of reality because at the end of the day, everyone is posting an ambitious version of them. It’s good to remember that no one’s life is perfect, not your favorite famous artist or your colleague or your friends and taking time off the screen for this moment in your life.
Finally, with this single and the video being released to the world, have you started looking to release the next single? What’s on the to-do / bucket list for the coming months?
Yes! We are in our next solo production, which is set to be released in May just in time for the summer. This is the real left turn of the aesthetics of “Big Girl Shoes”, so we’re glad to hear everyone’s feedback and hope we’ve reached a whole new set of listeners. Beyond that, we’re always focused on composing more songs, and we’ll be releasing more singles seamlessly throughout 2021 – maybe one more music video. Hopefully we’ll get a live stream on the calendar and start thinking about performing live at a venue as the world begins to open up again.