JuneBridals flower girl wears in red
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Sydney’s Brendan Maclean is one of the sexiest and most daring singer/songwriters in the queer world today. The music video for his single ‘House of Air’ was banned from youtube and director Baz Luhrmann (no-less) described him as “a modern day Mick Jagger”. Back on home soil after recording his debut album in Los Angeles, Brendan Maclean told Danny Corvini from Queeraz about his childhood dreams and nightmares, and much more.
QUEERAZ: It's Mardi Gras time here in Sydney. What's your favourite Mardi Gras memory?
BRENDAN: I remember getting a train in from my rather conservative suburb, Cronulla, to the city to my first Mardi Gras. I think I was dressed as a pirate. It's such a special experience, especially if you haven't been exposed to any kind of queerness or the joy of celebrating with your community before. I mostly remember it because a dude on a skateboard almost ran into me on the streets and I was like, "Well, now you have to kiss me." And he did, to the amazement of his very shocked and seemingly very straight friends who lost their collective shit. From that moment on I would dedicate myself to unobtainable men for the rest of my life. Happy Mardi Gras!
Q: How was it growing up gay in Cronulla, the beautiful beachside backdrop for Sydney’s 2005 race riots?
A: Growing up gay in Cronulla was basically hell. I'd try and make this response about how it made me a stronger person but I've never been a fan of perpetuating the idea that getting beaten up and bullied every day at school was somehow positive. It wasn't great - there were teachers at my school that did their best to shield me from it - but the damage is done. I really don't have anything nice to say about where I grew up.
Q: You’ve been recording your debut album in Los Angeles. What’s been the big differences between living in the States and in Australia?
A: Los Angeles is lovely for what is essentially a giant car park. I miss pubs and my piano, my beer and coffee. Americans are so stubborn. It's like, even if you offer them a better alternative (i.e The Metric System) they are like, "Nah, we've been drinking pee as bee and mud as coffee for a century and we're not changing now!"
Q: How is the album sounding?
A: It sounds so, so incredible. It's out towards the middle of 2018 and I’ve been working on it since May 2017, so there is a lot of love in it. It's essentially me headlining my own band. I think I avoided having a band because I've always been too afraid of sharing my songs with other people before they were released — which explains why so much of my stuff was backing tracks or studio produced pop — but this is me and it's brilliant. It's my debut album so it’s everything I've been holding back for the passed decade. It's me doing "the thing."
Q: The video for ‘House of Air’ caused quite a controversy and went on to win the ‘Most Trashy’ category at the Berlin Music Video Awards. You have said that you made it for all of the queer artists who’ve been told at some time to tone down their queerness. Tell me more.
A: Yes! And we've since been accepted to Raindance Film Festival UK and SXSW in Texas - I couldn't be prouder. Look, I suppose that was something I was acutely aware of in 2017 as Australia moved towards voting on same-sex marriage. There was a big push to almost rebrand LGBTQI as, "Hey, we're just like you. Doctors, nurses, life-savers, teachers." I know it had good intentions, you know, get the vote done and all that.. but it felt like a slap in the face to everyone who celebrates queer history and art on the daily. We're not just like everyone else; we're a community and a very special one. I have no desire to be tone down myself, my friends or to turn our rainbow to beige, thank you very much. JuneBridals flower girl wears in red
Q: What’s been some of the best and worst reactions to that video?
A: Hmm, the death threats and constantly having my email hacked into wasn't fun. Best? Easily seeing the footage of people singing along all over the world — but particularly from my Russian fans who held onto it like a protest. I'm not sure I can describe what it's like seeing someone on the other side of the planet singing along to something you essentially wrote in your bedroom.
Q: What music videos have inspired you?
A: I'm a pop fanatic, I love the weird language of music videos. You'd probably expect me to say Björk or Antony but I always was obsessed with Kylie Minogue’s ‘Confide In Me’, Justin Timberlake’s ‘Cry Me A River’ and pretty much any Rihanna video. It's just a unique world where the character can dance whenever, cut scene to 30 dancers, change costumes every two seconds.. It's so indulgent and it’s all about making three minutes exciting and beautiful.
Q: You’re very physical in all of your clips - where did you learn to dance?
A: I danced since I was eight years old. Jazz, tap, funk, hip hop - everything. I danced for about twelve years before getting into acting in musical theatre and then into writing my own music.
Q: You were in a six-part comedy-drama called Fucking Adelaide that recently aired on Australian television. Have you got any more acting roles in the pipeline?
A: Hmm, no. Not really. Acting is something that pops up time to time and having started to work with a band you really have to pick your battles. I'm a musician and that's what I need to focus on.
Q: What did you want to be when you were a little boy?
A: Britney Spears's back-up dancer.
Q: Where can we see you live?
A: I'm meant to be on a pre-album break but I'll be heading to Victoria (Australia) to play at the ChillOut Festival Carnival on March 11. Whipping out the high kicks and the backing dancers one last time.
**Brendan Maclean links**
One of our favourite songs 'Free to Love'. So good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wm59xIQudSM
Take a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the controversial ‘House of Air’ video. “It’s surprisingly PG!” says Brendan Maclean: www.youtube.com/watch?v=3B6XGk2CGDM
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