Woodford Folk Festival is celebrating their 31st Year this coming December. The Festival kicks off on the 27th of December 2016 and carries through to the 1st of January 2017.
Brendan Maclean is a rarity within Australian music: A full voiced, dynamic singer possessing an incomparable performance style accompanied by an educated songwriter’s mind. As The Age put it, “he’s an absolute complete package.”
The last few months have been a stunning direction change for Maclean: Stepping away from the piano, Brendan has drawn on his love of crisp Swedish production reminiscent of Robyn and Röyksopp; instant classics built on anthemic hooks, mammoth chorus’ and some of the finest bridges you will ever hear. Maclean took inspiration from bold male vocalists like INXS’ Michael Hutchence and Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes To Hollywood to find a fresh angle for his explosive range.
His EP, funbang1, debuted at #4 on the iTunes Album Chart, #2 on the AIR Album Chart and #19 on the ARIA Australian Album Chart, and features the singles ‘Free To Love’, ‘Hugs Not Drugs (Or Both)’ and ‘Tectonic’.
I had the pleasure of having a chat with Brendan prior to Woodford Folk festivals. Little did I know it was going to one of the most enjoyable interviews that went off track. I had many questions however Brendan can talk ALOT and answered most of them in one question. I say if you are heading to Woodford Folk Festival check out all of his performances and definitely see the New Year in with him and Amanda Palmer.
Hi Brendan, great to have the chance to have a chat, I have interviewed a few artists going to Woodfolk now, Blue King Brown, Tobias and Dubioza Kolektiv.
I know them they are cool.
Playing there this year with a record number of patrons and with some amazing acts how stoked are you to be on the bill?
Hang on I need to yell this out to the car! (Tells his mates)
They were very impressed.
You find Woodfolk to be pretty special, can you explain why?
This is my second Woodford and I have been aching to get back since I last left. I love getting up for yoga and having green drinks. It really is my favorite festival, I always say that it is the only festival that you leave healthier than when you arrived. (both laughing)
Not like Splendour on the Grass then!
No! Splendour in the Grass you end up in hospital. At Woodford you come to cleanse your soul with music and green smoothies.
You have 3 performances, one of those with Amanda Palmer. I looked up the website and tried to make sense of the program but hell there were so many things on I got sidetracked. Can you tell me where your 3 performances are?
Yes the Tropicana, the Grand Stage and the Cabaret stage at the amphitheater. It will be a dual performance with me versus Amanda Palmer going at it with full theatrical cabaret, folk, pop, rock and every genre you can think of we will jam it in there. inner true battle to musical death as new years comes we are going to send out 2016, we are going to murder it with music. and moving to the glorious 2017! I am a dear friend of Amanda’s I have been doing a lot of shows with her in London and we are ready and has some surprises up our sleeves for everybody.
I was doing some research and I found that your first ever single was released in 2007 “Airport People”. If you could write a letter to yourself now and send it back in time what would the most important thing you say be?
What a beautiful question! What would I say to little me? I would say keep believing the sounds in your head and make them real and don’t let everybody convince you what you are doing is wrong. I would say you are making something unique and it may feel weird and that they may not be something like there at the moment to hang your hat on but that is exactly what you should be doing. I think that is what I would say and just keeping weird! (both laughing)I would say that you are making something unique and it may feel weird.
I love that, people say that I am into really weird music, and I just say probably because I really really weird.
Exactly, I mean that is the great thing about Woodford there is so much to see but I go against the phrase that there is something for everybody, for all the weirdos in Woodford and I think that’s what it’s for.
That is really good quote!
Come and be weird with me!
Can you tell me what genre you want to be classified as? I have read Indie, alternative, pop and queer pop. (I think queer pop should just be pop tbh)
I know there is not even a genre that is a sexuality. Well I guess I’ve always been a singer songwriter I know that my records can be electronic or pop. It also can be folk so does change all the time but going to a folk festival is take funbang1, my pop record that came out this year and just show people how I wrote the songs and taking all the studio stuff back to the piano and back to the ukulele, in the spirit of the Woodford folk Festival. It is folk pop at a stretch. If people want to hear how I write the songs in my room when they first start when I’m getting an idea and having 20 cups of tea to get out one line, this is what you will see. If you have seen me before you will get something new and if you have not seen me before you will learn that I really do love writing and performing songs.
How do you think your acting career has assisted you in your music career? Must help with the the music video’s! They are amazing.
I do love making a music video! Well you know I was an actor before I was a musician, and I was a dancer before I was an actor and I think that all kinds of helps each other. I shy away from calling myself a triple threat. I call myself a performer. I am addicted to performing, I don’t know how to do anything else. People say to me, wow you can act and sing and dance! and I think well I have not done my taxes in five years, I don’t have a house and I can’t drive a car. (both laughing) Thanks for the praise but I am really a garbage human but I guess I would say that it has expanding my repertoire and has forced me to think outside myself and working with Baz Luhrmann who taught me more cabaret style of performance and working on television shows. The one I am working on atm is called F*cking Adelaide, for ABC iView we are filming that right now with Pamela Rabe, Kate Box and directed by Sophie Hyde.
It is a brilliant series, when you run out of ideas to write songs on, when you run out of break ups, it is nice to have a different story and a different narrative to write about. I have been living in Adelaide in five weeks and there have been discoveries that I wouldn’t have made otherwise, acting is just another tool to write songs, you don’t have to write about breaking up all the time you can write about finding treasure! (Both laughing) We can all think outside the club!
We had a chat about Adelaide as I used to live there and the British Pub that we both made our home.
Today I was with a composer of F*cking Adelaide, Mario and we were in the studio recording some new tunes, which is exciting and I will be bringing those too Woodford. Some new music as well which is coming up. Mostly I want to get up there and play my songs as last time I played I have not been able to get it out of my head, I am booking myself a massage in on-site and I am prebooking 7 Green drinks for myself! I am SO ready to get back into the amphitheater and sing for everyone.
Hugs not Drugs is an awesome song. I think that this is my favourite song of yours.
Well I will be whipping out his not drugs for sure, but it is such a big punk track and I think this is a good example of how my songwriting works. I wrote that song on a ukulele. This song comes from a really quiet place and a very nervous fragile place, I guess, a vulnerable place and so I’ll show the other side of the songs. I adore that song, it was the first track that I wrote for funbang1 and it lead me in the direction that it was heading in. So yes I will be blasting the song out at Woodford for sure. You better believe that I have some costumes in my bag as well! (both laughing although Brendan’s was a little bit more evil than mine!)
I was looking through your Facebook and you clearly have a great sense of humor, posting your own record as def being on of your top ten albums of the year, and when the aria’s were on you were hanging out with a goat…
I was not ok with anything but hanging out with a goat than the Aria’s. The internet is where I grew up I guess and I would not have a career if it was not for Youtube and my covers, when I was 17 or 18 in my room, I guess I don’t use it as much for promotion as I used to, I used to tweet about, Buy this, come to my gig and now I just use it to laugh! If you can’t be proud of your own record and you don’t love your own record then how can anyone else love it for you. So yes I would count my record in my top 5 fav records of the year. Hopefully it is someone else’s top 5 but if it is not at least it is in mine! (both laughing)
I did notice that all your fans are all so positive.
Yes I try and cultivate that, it is a pretty sad grumpy world, the music industry and it can be a very fearful place and a pace where people can’t really connect to musicians that they like or whatever so i just try and make it a space where they are not really fans but they are just friends that I like to have around me. I think that is very much the spirit of Woodford and I think that is why people take their families and go up and chill out as it is a place where the musicians are more down to earth and every musicians has a few shows and you can discover different sides of them, like you could come and see me three times and you are not going to get the same playlist. At Woodford for me, is a very live and reactive place.
Watch Brendan’s latest release “Never Enough’ here
What is next for you in 2017?
I will probably hanging on to Amanda’s Coat tails for a bit following her around Australia and supporting her at a few of her other gigs which is cool, that is around ten dates. Then I will finish this series and then I better start being an musician again, and writing a new album, it does not stop you know! I have plenty more ideas in my head and I have the feeling that the next album might be a little inspired by Woodford and taking it back to a more instrumental place than the electronic world that I have been playing in at the moment. It is time, my heart needs a little more instruments than synths right now! So that is my plan for next year.
I better let you go but thanks for your time Brendan and have a blast up in Woodford.
Thanks very much Jen!