G-7L1BQ01JC4 google-site-verification=FcHx71H1bjVosBa3N5PbNSP0lPlz9dKW5Fnb3zbHVBI Interview podcast featuring Australian gay musician Brendan Maclean. - Gay Music: In the Key of Q

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Published on:

1st Feb 2022

Brendan Maclean - Revisited

Featuring new material made public for the first time, LGBTQ singer Brendan Maclean discusses his five favourite songs plus the one track that he'd chosen as a gateway song into his catalogue.

Series 2 of In the Key of Q will begin on 1 March 2022.

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Transcript

Dan

Hello, it's Dan here. In the Key of Q is on hiatus until the first of March, but until those new episodes drop, here are clips from the patron exclusive feed, plus other treats from the main episode to keep you occupied.

This week we revisit Brendan Maclean. This is an exclusive episode for our page on subscribers, where I chat with all queer musicians about their five songs to save from Armageddon. Enjoy.

Hello and welcome to this patron episode of In the Key of Q, where I am welcomed back by the fantastic Brendan Maclewan in Sydney.

Hello, Brendan.

Brendan

Hello, my love. How are you doing?

Dan

Jolly good. Thank you. Jolly good on this early hour here on a cold London Sunday morning.

Brendan

Oh, I feel it breathing by now.

Dan

I've got some bad news. The Armageddon is approaching and everything is going to end and you can only take with you far as I know, I know. On top of everything else, on top of everything else is literally the end.

Brendan

What a downer. What a downer to see it coming.

Dan

So the end of the world is coming and you can only rescue five songs.

Brendan

It's really not many. That's kind of it's really twisting, twisting my agony. And maybe it's not that hard. Actually, I'm pretty brutal with these things.

Are you kind of brutal with these things? And you just like Bam chop or do you take weeks?

Dan

I can go back and chop. And then the next day, it's a complete different list. And then the next day is a complete list.

Brendan

OK.

Dan

Because you see I'm mercurial and fascinating.

Brendan

I'm just I pretend to be mysterious, but there's nothing underneath the facade. Absolutely nothing.

Dan

I remember many years ago I was in Philadelphia and a friend of a friend turned up at a bar where meeting him at to the guy I was dating out there, his friend turned up a little bit sort of tousled and he said, Oh, I'm not going even do the accent.

But he was said, Oh my, my my therapist is just fired me. I didn't know that was a thing, and he said, yeah, he said, I said something that tipped him over the edge.

And of course you go, what? What did you say or did you say? Yeah. And he went. I don't know why you bother with me, because if you scratch beneath my surface, there's just more surface.

Brendan

And then there's nothing. There's a smaller barrel inside this barrel that I got from a bigger barrel.

Dan

We’re Russian dolls of superficiality.

Brendan

Absolutely. Absolutely. OK. Well, you know, I've I've given this a long, hard thought, but I am pretty brutal. So where shall we start off the hardest choice? The easiest choice?

Dan

I think let's go from the easiest through to the one that really, really was the toughest with Kathy and witty explanation as to why.

Brendan

Yeah, thank you. Thanks. Well, the easiest is Rufus Wainwright, the Art Teacher. It's the first time I heard sort of theatre singing that I absolutely fell in love with, but more importantly, the lyricism of pretty much all Rufus Wainwright tracks, I suppose.

But this one is he's dad to be subtle. You know, at a at a ten, it's the only way Rufus Wainwright knows how to be subtle. He's got a very subtle songwriter, but I think about lines like, here I am in this uniform ish pant suit sort of thing, thinking about the art teacher and reflecting on that moment we all had with someone. I think maybe, you know, I certainly had my art teacher moments.

Dan

I. Yeah, I think we all did.

Brendan

I think so, too.

Dan

There's like there's a fantastic song I was just listening to yesterday called Ode to a Gym Teacher.

It's sung by fantastic lesbian singer. I can't remember her name. I'll put a link to it in the show notes. But it was a it was a wonderful song. Let's just make sure you realise we all these are these kind of.

Brendan

We all shared that.

Dan

Yeah, absolutely.

Brendan

I think it's that wanting to subvert authority that, you know, the Lolita taking power kind of thing. And, you know, Rufus sings this song as a thinking when he was a little girl back in school. That's how he sings this track.

And I suppose being a showman myself, being a very much of the cabaret capital p performer as my listed career. It's a song that's just a man and a piano with a little French horn for good measure, of course, in the bridge.

But it does all it needs to with, with some beautiful chords and some brilliant lyrics. I adore it. I adore it.

Dan

I'm ashamed to say I didn't know about Rufus until Brokeback Mountain came out, and I discovered him through that.

Brendan

Oh yeah, what was he singing on there?

Dan

He was doing a duet with...

Brendan

Yes, yes. As country. Yeah.

Dan

It was. It. Was it Teddy Thompson? It might have been Teddy Thompson.

Brendan

Yeah, you are absolutely right. Yeah, no, I I've followed you. And of course, Martha, who did not love Martha Wainwright and no one can sing stormy weather like her. Mm.

Dan

Absolutely.

Brendan

But, you know, and that was also how I started to sort of explore. My camper self on stage, you know, using the keyboard. That's how I started. You know, most of my songs earlier on was on the piano and things like that, and then I did start to discover arpeggios.

Whew. I didn't know how to use them beyond like, you know, Logic Pro. So when I started working with Paul Mac, who I work with a lot of brilliant, iconic queer electro producer and artist himself and his firms with, I sort of threw in the guitars and drums and things like that for a Moog and an arpeggiator.

And I remember coming into the room, I think I'd made fun of him on Twitter or something like that. And again, he's this little shit and his sort of best friend, Johnny Seymour, also, you know, iconic fashion audio designer in Australia, Sydney, said don't blow up at him, Paul, you know, invite him over for a beer.

And I remember. They're asking who I like listening to. And this was the track that I said, and it's Róisín Murphy when she sang Forever More.

And it's a beautiful building rolling song that I think drags you in, pulls you in with its gravity, with its bouncing bass line, gorgeous video clip as well, throwing herself through a sort of train tunnel with this arm throwing loose, almost contemporary dance vibe as she's as the dancers begin to copy her sloppy dancing start school.

But it was the length of the track as well. I didn't. I hadn't listened to dance music and listened to extended long mixes. And this was just the single version. I thought it was so brave and so wild that it just went and went and went and sort of dared you.

To keep going down the rabbit hole with her, so yeah, Róisín Murphy Moloko forevermore. Definitely.

Dan

It's always love lovely those songs, isn't it? That the build almost without you noticing. I remember being on a dance floor at the Scala here in London, and it would have been in the nineties at the now defunct pop star nightclub. And I'd listen to Pulp’s Common People 1,000,000 times, but I'd never dance to it in a big room full of Queer boys and girls. And the way that track gathers momentum each time you blink, another instrument is layered on it.

And so it begins as a rather hollow sound. And by the end of the album version, you're in this full mix of fury and drums and synth pads, and it's just joyous. Even thinking to me makes me ride.

Brendan

And isn't that what the best kind of that dance music does? It crawls up your spine and buzzes inside of you. It's oh yeah, you can feel that just by remembering gigs and you're going to get them back.

I promise you, we're doing them here. We have gigs again. You're going to get their baby in a few gigs. Come back. There will be hope. I hope you have hope.

Dan

We do have. We do have lots of hope. I am mocked for my eternal optimism.

Brendan

No, please, somebody needs to. And as someone who gave me a lot of hope, oh, what a transition. Brendan McLean, who is Frank Ocean and you know, he does say the best song isn't the single, but I remember when thinking about you came out on the Channel Orange Album.

It felt like somebody had owned. Working by themselves in their room that detail they put in the voice that my meticulous, idiosyncratic performance across the whole album, which you know, who knows if Frank knows how to do it live, I cancelled three times coming to Australia, so I haven't had any luck saying the farm.

You know, maybe he was busy the night before. I'm not sure. But yeah, I remember listening to this album and it sounded. Like, it had a narrative through it, and he's built a world where I was so used to growing up.

With the 12, 34, five, six, seven, 89 songs, and that's the album, and some people have tried to do transitions, but there were sloppy and irritating and unreleased, and you wouldn't want to hear those transition tracks. And this this album, I think the first time I fell in love with it.

But think about you as a native flew around my room before you came. Excuse the mess it made. Oh. Wow. It just sort of hits you in the right place, doesn't it?

Dan

I don't know that track. I must take a listen.

Brendan

Oh, absolutely, it's so breezy. And I've been going back to this a little bit, you know, because as one of the odd things about coming back is going back in travelling, being quite tense. You know, there's a lot of, Oh God, I shouldn't be out and do anything.

So I've been listening to a lot of crew, the sort of tracks lately. And yeah, Frank's definitely been applying his fair share of gumption to me. So thank you, Frank. We love you. But if he could not cancel the next show in Australia, that would be awesome too.

Dan

What is it about artists not wanting to come to Australia?

Brendan

I think it’s too far away.

Dan

Not that far!

Brendan

Oh, I know. I think it's more of the idea of where it is, like the idea that it's on the air. But it's one fly, everybody. And I think that people do it with every to even connecting artists internationally like.

The Australia is really far away, so they don't engage with Australian artists or something like that. I think the UK and Australia have a much better connection, but America, you know?

Dan

Yeah. Oddly enough, most legal stuff that I do is is that it's kind of UK to me, it's domestic North America and everything else.

Brendan

Oh yeah.

Dan

But it seems such a shame because the most inconvenient part of travelling is getting off your arse in your own home and getting into usually whatever your domestic airport is. Once you're once you're on the plane, just have more.

You know, it's a longer journey.

Brendan

Just have more gin. And I mean, I I quite like the plane. You know, I've always said first class pharmaceutical drugs, third class seats, and you just get there fine. You know, you can edit that out if you need to!

Dan

I remember the first or the first time, the only time I ever flew first class, I accidentally got upgraded, I'm sure, because someone at shake and fancied me in San Francisco. And to make the flight a bit easier, friend.

Oddly enough, a friend of my dad's I've been staying with gave me a Valium. This is on May 21. Yeah, and I've never had a Valium in my life. I don't know what it did, so I got in the little bubble at the top of the 747.

You know, old, scruffy like I am with my shorts on and just not fitting in. Took a Valium with with a glass of champagne and the next thing I knew I was in Heathrow. What a waste of a first class ticket!

Like, I literally took that before I even took off.

Brendan

And could have had like 14 vodka like tonics. Oh my god, what have you done? Where were the martinis, the free massage? You probably could have got the boyfriend you could have got.

Dan

That's what led to a loveless life, as I should have met him on that, on that plane and on sleep.

Brendan

You slept through it. And we go in on that positive note, a song that makes you feel much better. Years and Years Shine. And I have to say this one because I am watching It’s a Sin at the moment.

And Olly Alexander, the the lead of years and years, is doing a fabulous job as the lead character in It's a Sin. It's beautiful. There's enough people ragging on about it for you to find. But this song, I thought it was the clearest expression of a young gay man for my generation that oozed cool and that indie pop vibe that excited me and reminded me that I can make cool music, and it really was our time. And yeah, this was this was a really an album for years and years and a brilliant thing for Holly.

It's gorgeous. You can hear the hope resonating out of him. Yeah, and if the world was ending, you'd want this track, you know, definitely blaring out gorgeous. Oh, such a crush, that crush.

And, you know, the last song I'd take is my song Stupid, because it somehow keeps introducing me to sort of generation after generation of internet people from when it started on YouTube to BuzzFeed to on Twitter to Tik Tok now to whatever seems to be coming after it, it seems to be the endless connected to the young people, which is such a gift for songs to do funny songs, cute songs, quirky songs, so often a, you know, like a banana left out in the sun. But for some reason, stupid keeps hanging on. And I think it's because I didn't think too much when I wrote it with full of hope and potential, which is good. So you just don't think about the end point.

It just made me giggle in my house that I was singing to a crush of mine that had totally ruined my life, that, you know, 22 years old. But I still after I think it's seven years in March this year that it will have been.

I still like dragging out the year, and even if it's, you know, it's usually the one you song left in the set now of a big, you know, backing track. So big grand piano numbers. But it's always a wonderful moment to step out in just me and the the microphone, me and my ukulele, singing a really simple melody to the audience. It still works.

Dan

Absolutely, it does. And I don't know what it is about a ukulele, but it just as lovely. There's a fantastic cabaret performer we have here in London Champagne Charlie, who performs with the ukulele.

Brendan

Aaah!

Dan

He's just he's stunning.

Brendan

He is an infinitely accessible instrument. Yeah. The fact that you can put one finger over a string and it's a chord, I think, means everyone can play it. And so you have to keep the chords simple. And it's something we so often get wrong as songwriters is just keeping it simple because we want everyone to think we're clever. So when you're on a ukulele and it kind of tells you, well, you can really only hear the difference between three of these chords anyway, you have to focus on the melody and the lyrics. And I think, yeah, it works.

Dan

It's still something, and there's something wonderfully mischievous about the way it physically makes you stand.

Brendan

Yes.

Dan

So it sort of is a little bit silly in this kind of the physicality of it and.

Brendan

It’s clowny and immediately sort of strips you of any pretence that you're this godly figure. And I think that resonates with an audience, right? Yeah. So I definitely had to take Stupid. Yeah, she's coming.

Dan

Fantastic. Brandon Maclean, thank you so much for appearing in our patron special episode of In the Key of Q

Brendan

Pleasure.

Dan

Have you got a Patron darling? Do you have?

Brendan

I do I do have a Patron. It's Brendan McClain on The Patron and I put up a lot of B sides that don't exist anywhere else. I give you little updates, so jump over there, give us a wave. While the end of the world is coming, baby.

Dan

I just put dick pics online.

Brendan

Oh, I'll get my ten bucks out.

Dan

For those of our audience that don't know your content. I want to suggest a gateway drug to get them to get them properly hooked early.

Brendan

Well, I always go the Brian and Carl journey. Brian and Carl, who have directed most of my video clips, and I think you just want to go on this journey through me trying to understand what the hell I'm doing with myself.

So I started Stupid at us with a handy cam me recording on an iPad. Most of that track is from an iPad, by the way, and then moving through to Winner. The first time I booked a studio and put too many tracks on top of each other, I think there were about ten different kick drums in that song. You know, the video clip’s great. And I strip backwards in it. You'll love it and then guide yourself to House of Air and you'll find yourself at a very happy position. When I finally figure out I love pop music, but I also love making pop structures. I love being cheeky and fun. And when you booked the right person, they can make a really nice production for you. I think it's probably my best track still. I know it's it's desperately chipping away at the many TikTok streams that Stupid has.

But yeah, I listened to that one, and it's all the arpeggios, the disco drums and yeah, that joy in the performance that I hope when you listen to me, you know that when I'm in there, I always mean, I always mean it 1,000% cent.

Dan

So if we want to get past the knuckle of House of Air, we’ve got to start with Stupid.

Brendan

That's right. That's right. If you just cream yourself up. You know, the great metaphor for me is that if you go to houseofair.info, if if you click I am over 18, you go to the video and if you click under 18, it just takes you back to the video of Stupid. Back to the start.

Dan

Please do rate and review this podcast on your podcast provider. That'll really help other people find it. You can support the podcast by visiting patreon.com/inthekeyofq. Of course, it's always lovely to hear your thoughts and ideas and maybe future guests for the show. You can reach out on all the usual social media platforms or email me directly on podcast@inthekeyofq.com, it'll be great to hear from you.

Our theme music is by Paul Leondiou at unsoppable monsters.com. Big thanks to Kajann Kantha and Moray Laing for their support in making this episode. I’m Dan Hall, and this podcast is made at Pup Media Consultancy.

See you next Quesday!

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About the Podcast

Gay Music: In the Key of Q
Queer chat. Queer music.
Music-loving gay podcast. The best bi and gay music from around the world featuring insightful and inspiring conversations with Queer musicians.

Episodes drop weekly and are 30-40 minutes in length, celebrating LGBTQ identity, tunes and stories.

Presented by Dan Hall (producer, BBC’s Freddie Mercury: The Final Act) and produced by Pup Media.
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