Righteously pop in his sound, Brendan Maclean is not one to sugar coat or sell out for his music. Come and revel in his sassiness!
Brendan, How do you see your brand of pop influencing the industry?
It might be a little early to say I'm influencing anyone sonically – Funbang1 was pretty heavily influenced by Robyn and Royksöpp. (Some might say a little TOO influenced, ahem.) But I like to think I have infused a certain style in how I present my pop. As an early adopter of Kickstarter and Bandcamp, I know a lot of people were surprised to see electropop turn up on these platforms, which seemed reserved for acoustic soloists. I saw the market was missing that, and I'm very happy I took the punt and pushed on without selling myself to a label.
You are a queer pioneer in terms of visuals and song lyrics; how intentional was it to push these ideas into the mainstream?
Oh thank you – that was very natural. I'm honest to a point of brattishness. I won't release a song if it doesn't reflect me and my story, so talking about poppers, sex, boyfriends, or using the pronoun "he" was instinctual. I used to think there was something to be valued in being vague or going with the ‘This song could be for anybody!’ angle. I dunno... Sure, maybe you lose a bunch of homophobic fans for being like me, but if that is you then you weren't really getting an invite to the party, were you?
House of Air from your EP Funbang1 caused a lot of controversy earlier this year for its explicit content; to what extent was it meant as an insight into gay culture, or was it just a bit of fun?
It did, didn't it! Well, regardless of what we intended it to do, just under a year after its release, I look at what it has done and what it has grown to be, which is both a perfectly factual queer history lesson and also a kind of protest video that was unapologetic enough to genuinely shake people up. Growing up in a conservative but accepting part of Australia, I started seeing gays or gay marriage pictured with these sickly sweet portraits of doctors and teachers and life savers. It all reeked of this ‘Hey, gays are normal just like you! Nothing to see here!’ sentiment, and I was bored of it. Fischer's essay was so controversial in 1977; all we did was put it in a music video format, and as you can see, it's just as controversial forty years on. It's been fascinating.
How easy was it to get the directors of the video, Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccleston, involved, and what sort of technical issues go into producing such a visually provocative video?
Oh lord, they were all for it. In fact, I think the choice of explicitly showing EVERYTHING came from them. I thought they were just having a laugh until they started sending me casting cards for porn stars.
The visuals take direct reference from the work of Hal Fischer; who else are your biggest influencers?
Well, of course I pay credit to my heroes like George Michael, Rufus Wainwright, and Freddie Mercury for paving the way for me to do what I do. More recently though, being a little more confident to not make so many references in my songs, I'm inspired by any artist [f1] who refuses to give up, whatever it is they do. So many incredible Australians are stretching their arms out and reaching international shores[f2] : Kira Puru, Montaigne, Sarah Belkner... I could go on and on!
Your dancing was cheekily sassy in the video for Free to Love; how sassy do you think you are?
When it comes to dancing, if you haven't got sass you haven't got anything!
What is your best sassy story?
Oh that's easy: vogueing so hard at a festival that Solange dragged me up on stage to bust moves with her for the rest of the set. I don't know if I'll ever top that sassy moment.
As an Australian, how proud were you that there was a decisive vote to support gay marriage, and going forward, do you think it is relevant to safeguard religious freedoms once gay marriage is a reality in Australia?
What a year! One of the most exhausting battles of my life, without a doubt. I'm so happy the next generation won't have that to deal with so they can go on to fight their own new fights. The religious safeguards really are already in place; they always have been. You're hearing complaints from the right because – what's that phrase? – when you've been privileged your whole life, equality feels like oppression.
Is there a Funbang2 in the works, and what can we expect from you in 2018?
Ha! Oh there certainly is... Will it sound like what people are expecting? I very much doubt that. Just you wait.
STAY UP TO DATE WITH BRENDAN HERE!