Defying legions of critics both personal and professional, Jay Brannan has managed to build a 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 controversial arthouse movie ‘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.
A New Yorker by way of Texas and California, with several stops in between, and a (severely) failed Southern Baptist, Jay 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. With this new, healthier dependency, 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.
Jay’s song ‘Soda Shop’ became the most downloaded track from the movie’s soundtrack, released through Shock in Australia. He began performing his music at events surrounding the film. 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. 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. These 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. Within a year, Brannan jumped from playing small clubs and venues to sold-out Manhattan theatres.
His bare-bones, self-released EP ‘Unmastered’ has seen 30,000 downloads on iTunes. A 1000-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.Sydney Unleashed is one of Australia’s premier entertainment publications exploring the latest in lifestyle trends. From Sydney’s finest restaurants, cafes and bars to the hottest in gadgets, products, and home entertainment, Sydney Unleashed is your one-stop lifestyle platform.