Jay Brannan
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Jay Brannan

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Music

Press


"...wistful singer-songwriter fare..."
--David Swanson, ROLLING STONE

"...his tenor voice makes even the saddest lyrics easy on the ear."
--Fred A. Bernstein, THE NEW YORK TIMES

"Often erroneously billed as a 'sensitive songwriter,' Brannan is more like a roaring, emotional force."
--Julian Hooper, FLAVORPILL

"In the years to come, the ascendancy of...Jay Brannan and the rest of the Shortbus gang may prove to be as significant as the film itself."
--Sean Kennedy, OUT MAGAZINE

"Jay Brannan's 'Soda Shop' could possibly be the strangest and best song from Shortbus."
--Joe O'Fallon, PLAYBACK:stl - Various


Discography

goddamned (full length) - out july 1, 2008
unmastered ep - out now

Photos

Bio

Everything about Jay Brannan’s young career is improbable. Defying legions of critics both personal and professional, he has managed to build a shockingly dedicated following in a very non-traditional way. Though kicked out of acting school for alleged lack of ability, he entered the film arena with a standout performance in 2005’s Shortbus, and achieved rising cult star status upon the film’s worldwide release. Urged to “play it straight” during his Southern upbringing, he has become a lightning rod for castaways by simply being himself: a neurotic and inspiring mess.

Jay is a New Yorker by way of Texas and California, with several stops in between. A (severely) failed Southern Baptist, he moved to L.A. to pursue acting at the turn of the century. He picked up his first guitar at age 20, just as he put down an alcohol addiction. This new, healthier dependency took hold, and he began writing songs with no training but a collection of CDs by forlorn, female singers.

A few failed attempts at romance later, Brannan found himself in New York auditioning for John Cameron Mitchell’s experimental film Shortbus. Landing the part, he fell into a world of performers who made him feel comfortable as a creative professional for the first time. “I finally learned to trust myself as an artist and began to believe that I do have something to contribute, a concept that had been beaten out of me in just a few years of attempting a career in entertainment.”

Jay’s song “Soda Shop” became the most downloaded track from the movie’s soundtrack, released on the indie label Team Love. He began performing his music at events surrounding the film, allowing him an international platform to showcase his music.

And then the Internet kissed him.

A passionate insomniac, Jay found himself spending countless hours on the Internet cultivating his online networks and answering emails from around the globe. His burgeoning online following tipped when he posted a 3:00 a.m. laptop performance of “Soda Shop” on YouTube, which found itself featured on the website’s homepage and has since been viewed 1.5 million times. “I was a random guy at home fucking around with his computer, thinking no one would ever watch the video if I posted it. I guess I was wrong.” He has gone on to post every new song as it’s been written, including the album’s title track “goddamned,” inspired by a trip to Israel where Jay had been invited to perform. These online videos have accumulated millions of plays and their response has given Brannan the confidence to take his musical ambitions full time.

Jay’s online following was also taking physical form, as Jay began playing to sold-out crowds in his hometown of New York City. Deciding to try his luck with farther audiences, his first performances sold out in advance in cities as far flung as London, Paris, L.A., Toronto, Vancouver, Cape Town and Tel Aviv. Each show is peppered with a healthy amount of commentary, often expounding on the failures and frustrations of his daily life. Sometimes, he would jump on a plane in New York after working his day job as a proofreader, play a show in another city, then be back to work the next day. Within one year, Brannan jumped from playing small clubs and venues to sold-out Manhattan theatres.

Jay’s bare-bones, self-released EP Unmastered has seen 30,000 downloads on iTunes. A 1,000-piece CD companion sold out in a heartbeat, with a one-of-a-kind polaroid of Jay affixed to the cover of each copy. Running his own Great Depression label feels natural to Brannan, who will also self-release his full-length debut. Taking a page from Ani DiFranco, an artist he finds inspiring, he quips: “If you’re able to make your work available to a large geographical area while still maintaining control of your music, your songs, your sound, your image, your identity—why would you not take that opportunity over the glamorized and deluded idea of ‘getting signed?’”

goddamned was recorded in Los Angeles with producer Will Golden, whose production with Meiko and other Hotel Cafe artists caught the singer’s ear. It was recorded over six weeks during the winter of 2008 and will be released digitally in June, then physically in July. The album’s recording was the first time that Brannan has ever played with other musicians. “Everything I’ve done up to this point has been based purely on instinct. Once you throw other people and instruments into the mix, there’s a little bit of math involved. It was a complete shock to my system to have to pick a steady beat and stick to it.”

Lyrically, the debut is similar to an embrace that follows a beating. There are genuinely romantic moments, such as the love letter to a nonexistent boyfriend in “Housewife.” More often, though, is an underlying anxiety that cheats this bliss. It would seem to the listener that Jay’s days are passed with indecision, self-loathing, unrequited love, anonymous sex, scathing contempt, and demons that he just ca