Briana Alexa Martínez, who goes by the stage name Brika, was only in high school when she met Julio Reyes, the Grammy-award winning producer who has worked with the likes of Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. Brika, who was born and raised in Miami, is more influenced by singers such as Sade, Billie Holliday, and alternative rock and hip hop music rather than the Latin pop and balada sound that Reyes has perfected.
But the young singer and the producer-to-the-stars found in each other a fresh partnership and mentorship that six years later, still works. "Julio and I have developed a relationship that goes beyond producing, he’s like my second father," she says. " I don’t like anyone telling me what to do or how to do it but we have a very good understanding; that’s what I want in my career. Oftentimes, when you start working with people, they want to change you to fit their criteria."
Brika is signed to Reyes' independent label, Art House Records, and although she's been courted by the majors, she's waiting for the right opportunity and do it in her own terms. Their first collaboration, Voice Memos, includes 14 songs. " Brika has one of the most spontaneous artistic personalities I've ever encountered in my career. Her creativity has no limits," says the seasoned Reyes, who has won 2 GRAMMYs and 4 Latin GRAMMYs. "She has the ability to reinvent herself. She's extremely intuitive and talented, but above all, she always brings unpredictable elements to the creative process."
Last month, Brika performed to a packed house at Redbull's Three Days in Miami event in her native city. In the meantime, she keeps dropping new material, such as this remix of her song 'Mumbai' by producer Elénne, which we're premiering here on U-LAB:
The German producer took the original bossa nova and cajón acoustic grooves into a bass-driven track that showcases Brika's powerful voice. "I wrote that song because I'm a very independent person, I'm very happy alone," says Brika about 'Mumbai'. "What would happen if ended up being tied down, how do far would I go for someone? I like to think I'm a free spirit".
The 22 year-old is proud to say she still lives with her grandma, who raised her and exposed her to Celia Cruz and other timeless Cuban music. "She loves the quality of my voice, even if she doesn't necessarily get my music" says Brika about her abuela Alicia, who worked as a nurse.
The artist has been spending a lot of time in the studio, not just in Miami with Reyes, but also in New York and Los Angeles. For now, no more live performances anytime soon by Brika, who's focused on recording and promises will be releasing more new material this year. Enjoy this version of 'Mumbai', which encapsulates her independent spirit and international ambitions perfectly; a glimmer of what's to come.