Interview with Jay Brannan
Next up is one of my favorite interviews and performers from the summer being the lovely Jay Brannan! This incredibly talented song writer spent these last few months consistently touring all over the world solo. Solo being not just as the performer but doing his own merch and traveling by himself which is super inspiring considering how many insanely large crews I’ve ran into this past year through doing this.
His rigorous touring schedule has been in support of his excellent new record ‘Rob Me Blind’ that dropped in March of this year. Through our interview, I learned that he draws all of his music from his personal experiences and history which he admits has been rocky including his rocky present! Be ready to see much more from this talented artist and check out the album I’ve been raving about all summer!
Artist: Jay Brannan
Title: Rob Me Blind
Release date: 03/27/12
Label: Nettwerk Records
Jay Brannan Official Website
Buy at: Amazon
A Soft one to start! What are the three things you need on the road to survive?
The three things I need? Oh god! Well, my labtop and my iPhone are number one (laughs). Probably my labtop is the number one thing. It’s like more important then oxygen.
Especially for what you do.
Should I count my guitar?
Okay! I can’t? Okay, my labtop, my iPhone and what else do I need? Hand sanitizer (laughs)!
Those are great. Really good! You meet a lot of people! Then obviously the new record came out in March “Robs Me Blind”. So that’s been out and you’ve been touring consistently since that came out oversees and here so how maybe have these shows been going?
It’s been amazing so far! It’s been really fun. I started off in April and went to Ireland and the UK and Paris. Then in May, I did like ten shows around continental Europe. I just got back from Australia. I had like ten days to get my shit together and now I’m doing about twenty eight, thirty shows around the US then I have some festivals in September and I’m already booking the UK again in October (laughs).
Then maybe how long has that record been in the making?
Forever! I mean technically since I was born. My last album of originals was four years ago and my last kind of big release was a covers album three years ago so I wrote the songs over the course of that whole period. I’m not good at just sitting down and being like I need to write a song and picking something to write about. It all kind of is organic and just comes from real life experiences. I have to be pushed to this point of frustration or boredom or pain or something to be driven to write so writing hits me all the time. Then I wanted to be really specific with it sound wise. Like do something that is very minimal and acoustic. Very me but to experiment with more textures and more instruments. I just wanted to do that with the really right person so I waited until I found the perfect producer which I think I did. His name’s David Kahne. He’s like this superstar producer. He’s produced so many amazing people. Regina Spektor and Kelly Clarkson and fucking Paul McCartney and you know all sorts of amazing people. The Bangles so he’s really busy and it took us about nine months to finish the music but the long answer is it took about three years. It was a long time but I was really dedicated to make the album I wanted to make. So, I’m really happy with how it turned out.
That’s great and then you said it takes a lot for you to write a song. Like it takes a big event for you to write a song. Maybe how do you go about the writing?
Yeah, when I write, it’s sort of a coping mechanism for life. I’m inspired by pain and frustration and fear and anxiety. It’s just these thoughts that are constantly running around and racing around in my head for years. So I write songs so that my head doesn’t explode, you know what I mean? I just don’t sit down and go ‘I’m going to write a song today!’ I don’t have much of an attention span so it’s kind of been a long process but I feel like it makes it all pretty authentic because it comes out of my own life. So normally I sit around and play with the guitar and come up with something then kind of hum a melody to it and then the lyrics and the melody happen together but I normally just start with a guitar. And I’m not very good at playing guitar.
Then I was reading your bio and I know it stops about eight years ago. It becomes obvious through reading that you’ve had a bit of a rocky past.
I have a rocky present too (laughs).
Rocky now too and rocky in the future but how long have you been like writing these songs, maybe writing music and knowing that music is what you want to do? From the beginning of all that?
I mean, I’ve been around music since before I was born. I grew up in church singing constantly in choirs and doing solo and then school choirs and talent shows. My family was very musical and to me, I’m not crazy about organized religion but one of the sort of productive things that I think religion has to offer is arts education. They funded a lot of visual arts and music over the years and you’re exposed to a lot of art that way. So I’ve been around it forever. I always kind of wanted to sing but didn’t think I could write my own music or play an instrument and I didn’t just want to be like a covers sort of A&R style artist. So I focused on acting for a while and then gave that up eventually even though I still do some little bits. I guess my first song was like ten years ago at this point. Yeah, I bought my first guitar. Learned a few chords, wrote a couple songs. Put it down for several years and didn’t actually start writing till I moved to New York which was like 2003-2004.
Then maybe as a songwriter, who would be your dream person to maybe have on a song with you or just have a chance to maybe write with?
There’s a lot! I mean, I would love to work with Lisa Loeb who like wrote a bunch of great songs. Regina Spektor is like one of my favorites. She’s just so good. I’d love to sing with her. Sinead O’Connor. I love sort of angry women.
Then do you remember the first CD or first cassette you ever bought as a kid and then the first concert you ever bought?
I think the first CD I ever bought was called like ’Beach Blanket Ditties’ or something. It was like all these beach boy songs or something. Like old songs. I think that was the first tape I ever bought and then the first CD I cannot remember but I’m sure it was something country like Garth Brooks. That’s what my brother liked so that’s what I went for first. That’s just living in Texas.
Do you think those influenced you at all? Maybe just with your music? Because those influences are a little bit different from what you’re doing?
I mean I doubt the Beach Boys tape influenced me a whole lot but I definitely think that I’ve gone through lots of phases in terms of what I’ve listened to. I listen to religious music. In contemporary Christian music, musically speaking, I’m freaked out by some of the content but musically I think there’s just a lot of amazing music out there! In that genre and that influences me a ton. Or even just church music I’m sure has influenced me a lot. I went through phases with hip hop and r&b and you know alternative nineties. That’s so my generation. Country music I listened to for a long time which is awesome. There’s a lot of great music there. I think all those genres have influenced kind of what I do!
"Rob Me Blind" by Jay Brannan - release date: 03/27/12..