Believe it or not, Brendan Maclean was reluctant to audition for Velvet, the show that made him an Aussie household name, alongside Marcia Hines and an array of ridiculously talented mixed bag of disco freaks.
At the time, he’d just left Triple J, he had released some of his own music and performing daily in a Cabaret was far from his sensibilities, but in a queer double take, it has turned out to be a smooth decision, ‘my voice has improved to no end and if anything it just helps my pop career – because now more people know who I am, it’s a profile builder’.
After 150 shows Brendan still gives it his all, playing so close to the audience, he is cocooned in a total interactive experience. The true highlight of Velvet is Brendan’s immersive Ukulele arrangement of the Bee Gee’s hit Stayin’ Alive. During this song, Brendan has channeled everything from a broken heart to the day’s events that may have made him a little sad or insecure, it’s a pivotal time in the show where ‘the backing track stops and it becomes a raw emotional moment that really reflects on me, it’s a moment to just be myself, the caterpillar in me becomes the butterfly, I just sit with my uke and let it all out’.
Brendan Maclean performs live on The Morning Show
The influence is disco with so many powerful forces on stage, incredible circus performers, amazing vocals with a timeless backing track; Brendan says ‘it guides me like a little boat in a fast moving stream’. However, Brendan still believes along with his contemporaries like Iota, Paul Capsis and Trevor Ashley, Queer Artists must take a more calculated risk artistically, ‘we have too, we are asked to prove ourselves so much more than Heterosexual Artists, it feels like the world raises the bar a little higher for us and we have to jump further as we’ve already worked so hard just to get to that base level where straight Artists have already started at’.
‘Queer Artists must also have a lot of respect for history, other Queer Artists in the past (even during the time of disco) who were faced with homophobia, who were not able to hear their music played because they were gay, I do feel responsible to move it forward, to gay it forward to the rest of the world’.
At 28, Brendan is no longer the emerging ‘pop’ Artist, he’s strongly focused on self producing his own music, he believes Artists have to learn every facet of the music industry from studio recording, to mixing, to marketing and promoting your own work, ‘learn how to use that program software and learn how to become a better song writer, your best PR is a good song’. Now that he has a publishing deal with Universal Music, writing songs for other Artists, it’s important for him to know about ‘all’ production. Artists should empower themselves with knowledge and skills, finding your own unique sound is just as important as the song. ‘You have to be able to perform live, the best way to sell a song is to perform it’ and that’s why Velvet is the best experience for Brendan right now, performing live.
He’s cooking up new collaborations in the near future, working with dancers and grotesque drag acts to promote his new EP out at the end of the year. He’s found a new community since being more confident which includes well-known music industry names like Amanda Palmer, Megan Washington and Daniel Johns. ‘There’s a family powering my new EP and it will go so much further with such great collaborations.’ Brendan has no interest in ‘pop’ trends; he likes to casually chat to other Artists to strengthen his focus on writing better and honest lyrics, to stay confident and focus on keeping his own music alive.