Brooke Candy Gives Horny Techno King Only Fire His First Tattoo
“Smack my ass, make it red, red, red. Boy just do what I said.” Those are the lyrics to “Yoga,” the collaboration between Brooke Candy and Only Fire. The genre-bending song features sex-positive lyrics, dirty house-meets-techno beats, and the irreverent energy that’s characteristic of both their music. There was a time, though, when talking about sex, drugs, depression, and nightlife spirals was considered gauche. Brooke Candy knows this well. In fact, the 33-year-old is an often overlooked pioneer of the mid-aughts sex-positive and underground music movements. Who can forget “Das Me” or “Pussy Make the Rules.”? ( #FagMob anyone? IYKYK). So, it only makes sense that, amid the current revival of all things sleazy, Brooke Candy returns home to make music with an artist like Only Fire. At just 23 years old, the Croatian DJ and producer is quickly becoming a sought-after star in underground music scenes around the world. As Only Fire prepares to move to Berlin to expand his “DJ era,” Brooke Candy gave him his first ever tattoo—a cute, small skull on his forearm—in Los Angeles. After the session, we asked them to interview each other. Below, in what feels like a torch-passing moment, Brooke Candy and Only Fire discuss making music for the TikTok era, the magical experience of your first time at Berghain, and channeling “demon energy” on stage.
ONLY FIRE: Hello, I’m connected.
BROOKE CANDY: I can hear you.
ONLY FIRE: Okay, great. Hey, what’s up?
BROOKE CANDY: How are you?
ONLY FIRE: I’m good. I mean, I’m kind of depressed being back from America here in Croatia, but yeah, I mean…
BROOKE CANDY: Oh no, why?
ONLY FIRE: Because there’s not much to do here. It’s a bit boring.
BROOKE CANDY: Well, we got to get you back to the States.
ONLY FIRE: I’m moving to Berlin actually next year, so that’s going to be a bit better, at least.
BROOKE CANDY: Oh, you are in for some fun. For sure.
ONLY FIRE: Berlin seems like lots of fun.
BROOKE CANDY: Ooh. Do you have plans to DJ at Berghain yet?
ONLY FIRE: Well, I would love to. I don’t have plans yet, but I would love to DJ there someday. I never even visited it yet, even though I’ve been to Berlin twice.
BROOKE CANDY: Oh my gosh, it’s out of control, it’s wild.
ONLY FIRE: You’ve been there, of course.
BROOKE CANDY: I’ve been one time and I performed, it was the year right before the pandemic, so I think it was 2019 and it was so fun. It was one of the best crowds I’ve ever performed for. Everyone was just having so much fun and the energy was really, really exciting.
ONLY FIRE: Oh my God. Yeah. It seems like they go really crazy there.
BROOKE CANDY: Crazy.
ONLY FIRE: Wait, so you took a three-year break after releasing Sexorcism back in 2019. How does it feel being back on the music scene?
BROOKE CANDY: It’s been super exciting and, if I’m going to be totally honest, a little bit scary because I feel like so much has changed within myself and the world since I was going full throttle. I was on autopilot before and now I feel like the pace that I’m moving, with my music and just life itself is so much different now that it’s taken some getting used to. But it’s definitely really exciting. I’ll say that the response that I’ve gotten is definitely very unexpected. I didn’t expect for people to be as hyped about my new stuff and so supportive. So that’s really cool and that’s making me feel pretty inspired and motivated to keep it going I was ready to maybe quit, not quite, but yeah, quit.
ONLY FIRE: Really?
BROOKE CANDY: I don’t want to say quit, but I’ve been having so much fun tattooing and—I’m just going to say this, I don’t want to jinx myself, but I want to get into directing for other artists. I want to get into directing videos and creative directing. So I’ve been thinking a lot about that.
ONLY FIRE: Okay.
BROOKE CANDY: Music took a backseat and I was okay with it because so much has changed. But now that I’m doing it again, I’m like, “Oh wait, this is actually the best job in the world. This is the coolest thing in the world to do.” It’s so fun. Don’t you have so much fun when you’re DJing live?
ONLY FIRE: I do, but also I can feel like I’m very awkward on the stage, so I don’t really show much. I’m just focused on the DJ controller and I don’t really do much, but I’m still having fun and it’s fun hearing people know the words to your songs. It’s just a great feeling.
BROOKE CANDY: Totally. Do you feel when you’re DJing you have a hard time even knowing what’s going on around you? Or are you able to recognize when people are cheering for you and singing the lyrics? Because I’ll tell you, I watched your set at a Cultured party and people were losing their shit. People love you.
ONLY FIRE: Oh my god, really? That’s good to know because I feel like I never actually look at the audience. I’m scared of eye contact, so I don’t really look at the audience, but it’s nice to hear that. Because I do hear people screaming the lyrics and stuff, but I never really figure out the whole vibe if it’s going, really going, or just going. That’s good to know. How did it feel doing your DJ set there in L.A.?
BROOKE CANDY: Oh my gosh, I love to DJ as you know, because you gave me a lesson before we went to the party. I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing, but…
ONLY FIRE: It was good. They loved it.
BROOKE CANDY: I’m obsessed with it. It’s so fun to be controlling the party’s momentum. To be at the wheel and I’m kind of dictating how fast or slow the whole room is moving. That’s such a cool space to exist in. When you do get people screaming or you see people jumping up and down and you get everyone in the room to go wild, there’s a high that comes with that.
ONLY FIRE: Everyone is bad at the start. I mean, you weren’t even bad, but everyone progressively gets better. I still need to practice, too. That’s why I decided that I’m moving to Berlin because there’s the whole underground DJ scene there and I really want to experience it myself, just to feel more comfortable with the audience and everything.
BROOKE CANDY: That’s amazing. I think having that perspective that you can always get better and having some humility in your craft and knowing that no matter where you’re at, you can always improve is just the absolute best mindset to have because then you will be one of the best. If you practice every day at something, you can only go up. But if you think you’re incredible then you’ll just stay where you are. But I just think that’s the best. I love that attitude.
ONLY FIRE: That’s true. There’s always room for practice. I’m never satisfied with what I do. I always want to be better at it, if you know what I mean?
BROOKE CANDY: Totally. Well, you are great already, so I can’t wait to see what happens. But how did you get started DJing?
ONLY FIRE: Well, I was just producing music at first, but then people started listening to my music and then the clubs started getting to me through emails, that they want to book me to perform live. That was back in 2021 at Halloween when I had my first DJ set. It wasn’t an actual DJ set because I didn’t really perform on CDJs. I performed on the drum machine because I didn’t really know how to DJ back then. I only just started getting into DJing this year when I started getting more gigs. I started learning to DJ on CDJs. So it was actually because of my music that I started getting into it, because people wanted to hear it live. I’m not a performer, so I can’t perform it live, but I can DJ.
BROOKE CANDY: Amazing. Do you consider yourself to be more of a producer?
ONLY FIRE: Definitely more of a producer, but I’m liking my DJ era so far. I’m excited to expand on it more, the DJing. Because the feeling when DJing is really amazing. My first few DJ sets, I was so scared on the stage, awkward and anxious. I feel like that is getting past me, so I’m glad that it happened.
BROOKE CANDY: Actually, I overheard someone at breakfast say that the universe rewards bravery. I thought that that was such a cool quote. I immediately thought of how nervous I was recently when we performed Elsewhere in New York.
ONLY FIRE: Oh yeah, I was about to ask about that because you actually killed it there and I heard you had trouble with your voice.
BROOKE CANDY: Oh my gosh. So that show, going into it, I hadn’t performed in three or four years and I was so nervous. I just pushed through it. I think that in some way I was rewarded. The satisfaction of knowing that I did something that I was afraid of. I think the show itself was a really successful show and I had so many issues. It was like Murphy’s Law, which is anything that can go wrong will go wrong. But it turned out to be such a positive experience. Everyone had so much fun. I lost my voice about five minutes before I sound checked and that’s never happened to me in 10 years. I know that feeling that you’re talking about. I almost felt paralyzed. I felt tingly all over my body.
ONLY FIRE: Oh gosh.
BROOKE CANDY: My manager told me that something changed in me when he saw me on stage. He compared it to Sasha Fierce, which I thought was very funny and cool, but he’s like, “something changes in your eyes.” When I’m on stage, it’s like demon energy. The second I was up there, it came back to me and the fear went away.
ONLY FIRE: I know what you mean. It was really amazing that you gave so much energy on that stage. Everyone loved it.
BROOKE CANDY: Oh, thank you. That was my perfect show. Performing with you, performing in New York City, performing at that particular club. It’s such a cool club. Also, I’ve come to the realization that I have the coolest fans in the world. After the show, we hung out with a bunch of fans that had waited around and we went out to a bar and we just shot the shit. They’re just so smart and cool. It was the perfect storm of coolness.
ONLY FIRE: So what are your plans for 2023 after releasing “Flip Phone” and “Yoga”? Is there a bigger project coming with these songs?
BROOKE CANDY: I want to say yes, but then I also don’t want to shoot myself in the foot just in case something changes. But I want to say that I’m very motivated at the moment in making music a successful priority. At the least, I’d love to release an EP. I have enough music to do it. I can give this away: I have a new song coming out soon with a music video and I’ve been working on the music video for about a month pretty regularly. I’m working with a director that is just incredible. Her name’s JJ Stratford and she’s really good. I’ll just give this away as well: it’s the eighties. I think that will be the groove that I want to rest in. I’ve only put out one EP and one album. I want to put out more than that. I don’t want that to be the end of the musical legacy. I feel like I have more in me.
ONLY FIRE: Yeah, of course.
BROOKE CANDY: I have to at least try, you know? What about you? Do you feel like you’ll put out an album?
ONLY FIRE: I’m planning on releasing an EP in 2023. There’s this song that I have coming out soon and then I’m planning to release an EP. I’ve been working on a lot of stuff and trying to work with as many other artists as I can that I love. But it’s been hard for me to create a whole new album again. So I just want to release an EP. I don’t really have it all planned out yet.
BROOKE CANDY: Making music is such a labor of love and it’s almost like you don’t want to promise something if you can’t get it to a place where you’re happy with it. In this day and age, it’s easier to release singles because people have this way of digesting music and then getting over it so fast.
ONLY FIRE: The attention span is so short right now after the TikTok era. Everyone just wants two minute songs. It’s crazy. But I kind of like it, though.
BROOKE CANDY: Honestly, it is frustrating, I’m sure, for bands who want to release records and then tour with their 12-song records. I actually kind of enjoy releasing singles because I’m so fickle and I’m flaky and I change my mind literally every day. I don’t mind a more simple structure, just a single every now and then, giving that to people and then touring, playing a few shows with that.
ONLY FIRE: I feel like when we’re releasing singles then people can only focus on one song. All the focus is on one song. When the whole album is released there are so many songs and people just can’t really focus on anything that much these days.
BROOKE CANDY: It’s so true.
ONLY FIRE: I feel like it’s such a singles era at the moment.
BROOKE CANDY: Just now over the past two minutes of us talking, I feel like I shouldn’t release an EP. It’s back to singles, but that is the plan moving forward. All I know that I’m sure about is I have one new song coming out.
ONLY FIRE: I’m excited to hear it and also to see the video. You really seem to be into directing videos. Did you direct most of your videos so far?
BROOKE CANDY: Yes, yes.
ONLY FIRE: That’s amazing.
BROOKE CANDY: I put together a little short PDF rolodex of stuff that I’ve directed recently. I was actually pretty surprised, I’ve done a lot of my videos. I’ve done one video for another artist, his name’s Sega Bodega. That video was maybe the most fun because it wasn’t my own.
ONLY FIRE: Oh wait, which one? Because I love Sega Bodega. He makes great music. I didn’t realize you directed his video.
BROOKE CANDY: It’s called “Self*Care.”
ONLY FIRE: I’m going to check it out after this because it sounds fun.
BROOKE CANDY: I want to make a video for you. We should make one together.
ONLY FIRE: I don’t have a video for my song, for any of my stuff yet, because I don’t know what to do because I’m not the one singing the songs, so I wouldn’t be in it. So I don’t know how I would make it work myself, but maybe with some help from someone, we could make something happen.
BROOKE CANDY: Totally. I think some of the best videos, some of my favorite videos, are videos that the band was never in. In the eighties, there were quite a few bands. Aphex Twins did that often.
ONLY FIRE: Oh yeah, Aphex Twins.
BROOKE CANDY: Aphex Twins, you got the video with the alien that’s in the wheelchair that’s in the basement and they keep opening the door and the alien is moving at 200 miles-an-hour.
ONLY FIRE: I know the one. But my favorite from them is still “Come to Daddy.” Oh my god, that one with the old granny running from the monsters and then they’re coming out of the TV and everything.
BROOKE CANDY: So cool. I think it’s so cool to just come up with some fantasy concept and then figure out a way to make it happen. Whether it’s with Claymation or an old granny, whatever.
ONLY FIRE: When you’re not working on music, you are mostly tattooing, right?
BROOKE CANDY: Yes. So I tattoo five days a week, sometimes six.
ONLY FIRE: Oh, that’s a lot.
BROOKE CANDY: Every day I do tattoos. I like to do it as often as possible only because it helps me to just be a little bit calmer. ‘Cause I’m pretty manic.
ONLY FIRE: How does one even book a Brooke Candy tattoo appointment?
BROOKE CANDY: I just book through Instagram.
ONLY FIRE: Oh, okay.
BROOKE CANDY: I don’t discriminate against anyone. It’s always the same price, just a flat rate. My tattoos are little and pretty easy. I’ve heard it’s a painless experience. I’ve been told I have a fairy’s touch, which I think is cool.
ONLY FIRE: I love the little skull you tattooed on me. It’s been healing so well and it looks really well at the moment. I’m not really a big fan of needles, so I wasn’t even looking at it while you were doing it.
BROOKE CANDY: It was a true honor to give you your first tattoo.
ONLY FIRE: Oh, thank you. I feel like it was an honor to get it from you.
BROOKE CANDY: Oh my gosh. That’s so nice. Actually, tattooing is an intense procedure. It’s a medical procedure, but I don’t think it’s looked at in that way because pirates do it and criminals do it, or did it. Now everybody does it, but it’s a very intimate procedure and so I don’t want to fuck it up. Lately, I have been making them a little bit cuter because I think tattoos should be cute and sweet and you should look at them and smile. You should never look at it and be like, “Oh my god, what have I done?”
ONLY FIRE: So what tattoo would you say is your biggest regret?
BROOKE CANDY: No! I don’t want to say, I know exactly which one, but I don’t want to say because I don’t want to hurt the feelings of the tattoo artist who did it. But I can say that I’ve given myself a few tattoos that are absolutely terrible. More than anything, it’s a funny moment in my past. It’s still a funny, fun memory.
ONLY FIRE: That’s cute. I get what you mean.
BROOKE CANDY: Do you think you’ll get any more tattoos?
ONLY FIRE: Probably. There’s a problem with me because I’m too indecisive.
BROOKE CANDY: My advice is don’t get any more for at least five years. I think it’s cool to just go slowly because you have a lot of time and you have a lot of skin.