Singer/songwriter extraordinaire Jay Brannan is on the road and headed to Orlando for a performance at the social on September 10th. What better way to welcome him back to our beautiful city than having an interview with brink. Read on to discover what Jay is up to these days and whether or not he likes tomatoes on grilled cheese.
BRINK: Hi Jay! How did you get your start in music?
Jay Brannan: I’ve pretty much sang my whole life - in school, church, talent shows, choirs. I come from a musical family, and I started taking piano lessons when I started learning to read. In terms of writing my own material and performing shows as a “singer/songwriter” - that’s only been the last 4 or 5 years. I started by doing open mics and variety & talent shows around town, building a mailing list whenever I played out, and eventually started getting my own shows!
B: What’s your favorite song from your catalog and why?
JB: Hmm, this depends on the day. I think my favorite recorded track that maybe doesn’t get as much attention as some of the others is “a death waltz” off my first CD “goddamned”. I am happy with the way the song turned out lyrically and melodically, and the arrangement on the album I think is really cool.
B: What have been some of the highlights of your career thus far?
JB: Wow, I’ve been really lucky. Playing on the water at the Cannes Film Festival in France was pretty cool. I’ve gotten to travel around the entire world more than once. I’ve played Paris & London many times each, and have never had a show there that wasn’t sold out in advance. Whenever I show up in a place I’ve never even been and people are singing along and requesting songs by name -- that’s pretty cool. Oh, and I tried for a long while to contact Ani Difranco to produce an album with me... She’s busy doing her own life stuff right now, but she wrote me an email that was really complimentary of my music. That was really, really an incredible feeling. And Jewel tweeted me once!! Haha!
B: I was first introduced to you and your music through your YouTube videos. How do you think media sites play a role in reaching your fans, both old and new?
JB: I would have nothing without those websites. I’m a very specific and kind of strange human being as well as artist. The type of person the music industry would never in a million years have given a chance at a traditional record deal or something like that. But with YouTube, Facebook and Myspace -- those gatekeepers to opportunity have SO much less power. They still have a lot more money and political connections that they like to keep to themselves, but...they cant stop weird people like me from making music, putting it online, and developing online & live performance followings for ourselves. My whole business is pretty much Internet-based.
B: Have you ever read or heard something about you that wasn’t true?
JB: A Wikipedia article used to say that I worked with Jane Goodall doing field research on chimpanzees. Seriously. I hate that site, it’s just a petri dish for errors and bullshit.
B: Do you have a dream collaboration? You can pick anyone, actually, lets say you can pick one person deceased and one person alive?
JB: Well there’s a few people. Deceased -- I always desperately dream that Left Eye from TLC could do a rap interlude on one of my songs. And living -- like I said before, working with Ani DiFranco on an album would be pretty cool. I’d also really like to do a duet with Lisa Loeb, but I doubt she’d be into it, haha.
B: What’s been the key moment in your career?
JB: Probably the release of a film I was in called “Shortbus.” When that movie was released around the world, it opened a lot of opportunities for me. I also had a song in the film and on the soundtrack, which I am so grateful to John Cameron Mitchell (the director) for including. My audience grew exponentially after that, and I was able to start showing up in foreign capitals and playing sold out shows a couple years later, because that movie started a foundation that I continued to develop with sites like YouTube.
B: What are you working on now?
JB: I’m writing songs and looking for the right producer to record my next album, which I hope to release in 2011. I just booked a good string of shows for myself in the USA, UK, Ireland, and possibly Scandinavia, so I will be touring this fall and working on the album in between shows. I also hope to one day do more acting projects, so I’m always pushing my agent to get me film & TV auditions when I’m in town. :)
Top three favorite artists and/or albums:
My favorite time in music was...
I have always been obsessed with...
One thing I think is overrated is...
One thing I think is underrated is...
Katy Perry or Christina Aguilera?
For me - Christina Aguilera!
Jason Derulo or B.o.B.?
Um. I don’t know either of these references :/
Peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese with tomatoes?
Grilled cheese. No tomatoes (r u kidding me?)
Sandles or boat shoes?
What the fuck is a boat shoe? Flip flops.
Eating out or staying in?
Both! (In rapid succession)
For more on Jay, visit www.jaybrannan.com
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