Jay Brannan is one of my favorite singer/songwriters I've come to discover in the past few years. I was introduced to his brilliant music by my friend Patrick who sent me Jay's video for "Housewife." I was immediately taken in by Jay's voice and strong lyrics. Jay continues to be an inspiration that with perseverance and hard work, dreams can come true!
I first interviewed Jay Brannan in 2009 after he released his second album "In Living Cover." Since that time, Jay continued to tour, enticing sold out crowds around the world, and released two holiday singles "Christmas Really Sucks" and "Dear Santa." Now, two years later, Jay's new album, "Rob Me Blind," featuring 10 original songs written by Jay, will be released on March 27 on Nettwerk Records.
To sample the first two singles, "Greatest Hits" and "Beautifully" from "Rob Me Blind," check out the videos below!
1. You are about to release your third full length album, "Rob Me Blind." How did you come up with the title and cover art for the album? "rob me blind" is the title of what turned out to be my favorite track on the album, and i also liked the various images the phrase brings to mind. i like to take clichés and turn them on their heads or bring new meaning to them, and that's sort of what i tried to do in the lyrics of the song. normally when someone "robs you blind" they take everything you have. but in the context of the song, that's exactly what you want the other person to do :) i thought it would be funny to be tied up on the album cover, like during a big heist in an old western or something haha. i think the image evokes different interpretations and i like that. sometimes it's fun to keep people guessing at what your creative intentions really are :)
2. What excites you the most about the release of "Rob Me Blind"? i'm just excited to be releasing a new album, and especially one composed entirely of originals. i tend to take a bit longer than a lot of people to write and record new music, because i like to do it in a way that really feels right to me. it took some time and a LOT of work, but this album turned out to be exactly the album i wanted to make at this point in my life, and i can't wait for people to hear it.
3. What can fans expect on this album that you might not have done with "Goddamned" or "In Living Cover"? my goal with this album was to create a collection of all original songs that were recorded in a way that was very "me" -- my tastes and my style, but taking it to a slightly different level. i wanted to experiment with some additional textures and instrumentation on this album, rather than doing the same thing i had already done in the past. i've always been terrified of loud instruments like drums, so i wanted to walk a bit blindly into that fear and see what might happen if i put a bit more rhythm into some of the tracks. i was so lucky to make this album with David Kahne, because he was the PERFECT person to help me try all those things.
4. You're having your NY CD release concert for "Rob Me Blind" on March 23 at Le Poisson Rouge, where you have performed previously. What is about Le Poisson Rouge that brings you back so often? le poisson rouge is a really good sized room, and it has a sound setup that can nicely handle the type of solo acoustic performance that i do. the room is versatile, so it's cool to do partial seating if you want. it's a really professional space in a convenient location; they book so many great acts; they are able to accommodate affordable ticket prices; and i've always gotten a good deal there as the performer. Brice, who books the space, gave me some of my first shows in NYC back when he was booking Mo Pitkin's, so it's really cool to have long-running relationships with people who have believed in you and given you opportunities since you first started. he's great to work with.
5. How did you come to work with David Kahne for this album? What has been the best part about working with him? basically i made a list of dream producers that i would love to work with, but never thought i'd have the chance. David was the first person on that list, primarily for his work with Regina Spektor on her album "Begin To Hope." i kinda stalked his management down online, and someone there was familiar with my music already on some level, and forwarded my email along to David. he ended up contacting me directly right away, and we met for an introduction. we got along really well, and agreed to try recording one track. after that, we did another. then another...until i had a 10 song album! working with David was like a dream. he's a complete musical genius and we have really similar tastes, so i feel like i almost just watched him work miracles with my songs and performances haha. David is really amazing at creating memorable moments in the arrangements and the music, in ways that are tasteful and cool - not cheesy or over-the-top. he's also an amazing person with such a good heart and so much experience in both life & music. i learned so much working with him and listening to his stories. i'm actually a little sad that part is over, and hope we can do another one someday :)
6. What have you learned about yourself from being a singer/songwriter? i honestly wouldn't know where to begin answering this question. pursuing a career in the entertainment industry is a VERY difficult and terrifying path. but i've been lucky enough to come across a little bit of opportunity, mostly at the generosity of others, and i'm really grateful for that. the sheer fact that i'm able to write songs and play shows, and that i have done as much traveling as i have -- all that speaks to the fact that i am capable of doing things i NEVER dreamed possible, and in fact was always convinced i would never be able to do. i always feel so much fear and insecurity in the present moment, but when i look backward, it's a cool feeling to see all the small things you've accomplished that may seem like nothing to other people, but on a personal level are really huge.
7. Who haven't you worked with that you would like to? oh god, there's so many people! i'd love to do some co-writing or duets with people i look up to, or even just open for their shows! like Lisa Loeb or Sinéad or Regina or The Cranberries or Ani...i mean there's so many people i'd die to work with. i still dream of having someone like Eve or Nicki Minaj doing a rap interlude on one of my songs!! haha.
8. At your last concert at Joe's Pub, in October 2011, you mentioned that you were able to leave your day job and live solely from being a singer/songwriter. What did it mean to you, both personally and professionally, when you realized that was possible? i don't know if it was ever an actual realization as much as something that snuck up on me. i had always kept really flexible jobs that allowed me to pursue my creative interests, and i was able to keep taking time off to work on "Shortbus" or to travel for festivals, or to go to L.A. for 5 weeks to record my first album, etc. i finally just got so busy with work in the creative fields, that i ended up not going back, but i always kind of expected to after each trip or opportunity. even to this day, i think i'm still on payroll at my last job, and i keep my fingers crossed that they will have me back at some point haha.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? i think just to take life 10 minutes at a time when you feel overwhelmed. life is crazy and it's so easy to feel overwhelmed or like there's no way you can survive or do anything with yourself. it's very hard, but i try not to let myself live too far in the future, because i can't handle that. all i have to do, today, is survive the next 10 minutes. what do i have to do to get myself through the next 10 minutes of my life -- that's it. and then i'll worry about the next 10 minutes once those 10 minutes are over.
10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? the power to take away people's pain.