Singer-songwriter Jay Brannan certainly knows how to make a lasting first impression; the twenty-six year old got his start in the indie flick "Shortbus," which featured more naked flesh than most XXXSinger-songwriter Jay Brannan certainly knows how to make a lasting first impression; the twenty-six year old got his start in the indie flick "Shortbus," which featured more naked flesh than most XXX flicks.
Since the movie was released in 2006, Brannan has put his clothes back on and bared his soul on his first full-length record, "Goddamned," which was released on July 15 through his own label, Great Depression Records.
Fresh off this first tour, Brannan spoke to Billboard about his future plans and the importance of the DIY ethic.
Congrats on wrapping your first US tour. Was it all you hoped it would be? What lessons did you learn?
The tour was really fun, and I'm really happy with how the shows went off. I did ten cities all over the US, and my road manager took to calling it the luxury tour, because I was flying and taking trains to all the shows rather than roughing it in a van. It was still hard work, though. But the turnouts were great and it was gratifying to see people in different cities singing along to all the songs.
When you performed at the Highline Ballroom in New York, you talked about having paid for everything yourself. Do you have label support now, or are you still funding the venture on your own?
I have no label support right now. I have never wanted to wait around and I like to just take the initiative and go after things I want. I'm a very opinionated guy and if I were to sign to a label, I feel like they might want to strangle those impulses. At this point, nothing I've seen looks like enough of a partnership to me. But I am open to considering offers; it depends on the terms of deal, of course, but I'm not closing myself off to any avenue. Doing all this by myself has given me a lot of leverage and more negotiating power, which feels good. And I'd love to not have to put everything on the old MasterCard.
You got your start in the indie film Shortbus. How has that helped you build your musical career, and how many people who come to your shows now know you because of the movie?
It's a mix of both Shortbus fans and new fans right now. Shortbus really helped me, because the movie played all over the globe and it was like going on a world tour without ever leaving home. But since then I've really grown my online presence, and I'm meeting people who have never heard of Shortbus and just saw me on You Tube or something.
One topic of a lot of chatter has been your cover of NWA's "Straight Outta Compton;" you mentioned that people have sent you nasty messages about it. Why do think some people have such a strong response to you singing that song?
Well, most people do see the humor and the irony in the track. I heard Nina Gordon do it and I loved the way she sang it and the melody, and wanted to do my own version. I think that I do it with a mix of irony and humor and seriousness, and some people can't grasp the fact that all these complex issues in the song.
Lots of indie artists nowadays are licensing their songs to film and TV to make money and gain exposure. Based on your experience with Shortbus, is this something you’d consider?
I'd love for it to happen. It would have to be the right brand association, but absolutely, it's a goal of mine.
What are your plans for the fall?
I'm going international. My management company is setting up distribution of the record through some of their global partners, and I’ll be doing some tour dates in the UK and Europe. I'd also like to get back in to doing some acting.