Brendan Maclean has had a busy year. Aside from writing and performing music, presenting on Triple J and being one of Australia’s most prolific Tweeters, he’s been preparing for the New York launch of Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming epic The Great Gatsby.
When the Star Observer spoke to Maclean about his role as the cunning, vacuous Klipspringer alongside heavyweights Leonardo di Caprio and Tobey Maguire, the Sydney musician and entertainer was getting fairly excited.
“He’s a really evil, conniving character. I adored playing him, it was absolutely glorious. Baz let me turn him into something more than the everyday leech he is in the novel.”
The casual mention of Baz Luhrmann, who handpicked Maclean for the role, sends the rapidly chattering 25-year old off on a tangent, gushing over the iconic director and the bizarre audition he had for Gatsby.
“He gave me this golden, old-style phone, and we sat on opposite sides of the room and talked in character for 45 minutes. At the end he said he’d only ever had one person in mind – when I heard that I pretty much walked outside onto Moore Park oval and started bawling.”
Speaking of crying in Moore Park brings the conversation round to Mardi Gras, where Maclean will be unveiling his new single, ‘Stupid’. While he was making the track Maclean again found some star power smiling on him, with acclaimed musician Paul Mac producing the song.
“I made fun of Paul’s work with Silverchair on Twitter, and he loved that. We started hanging out and eventually he offered to produce a song. I love Paul – he’s a hero of mine, it’s bananas that I get to work with him.”
The single’s launch tour, which will see Maclean play at Marrickville’s Factory Floor and Melbourne’s Spiegeltent in February, won’t exude the typical Mardi Gras vibe.
“The launch for ‘Stupid’ is going to be amazing. It’s not a cabaret show or anything, it’s just indie pop that you could see at the Oxford Art Factory. It’s good to be offering something that’s different to the rest of the festival.”
It’s not the first time Maclean’s been a Mardi Gras fixture – he was a central part of the 2011 relaunch that aimed to reorient the festival more towards younger people, women and the Inner West. For Maclean, the experience had a personal side.
“I moved to the city from the Shire and didn’t really feel connected to the gay community. I just wanted to expand Mardi Gras’ footprint a bit, help some kid in Penrith or Footscray know that it’s okay to do your own thing.”
Maclean is one of those people whose name everyone knows without really knowing why, something that annoys him to no end. He blames it in large part on his voracious obsession with Twitter – in the last five years he’s sent almost 35,000 Tweets to nearly 20,000 followers – that’s stopped him focusing on his music.
“When I first met Paul [Mac] he said ‘if you focused on your lyrics as much as your tweets you’d have a record label by now’. And he was right – after four years on Twitter, no one even knew I was a performer. Every time I send a tweet now I’m thinking about the songs I could be working on instead.”
He has a point. While Maclean’s released an EP, White Canvas, in 2010 and the single Only Only in March 2012, at least half of the videos on his YouTube channel are self-recorded covers of Lady Gaga, odes to children’s TV show theme songs or footage of his cat Handsome falling in the bathtub. After the release of ‘Stupid,’ though, Maclean’s aiming his musical ambitions a little higher.
“We’re already working on a video clip, but I want to go back in the studio and make a full record with Paul Mac producing. I just want to make as much music as I can, take lots of acid or something.”
I want people to stop vaguely thinking of me as ‘that Twitter guy’ or ‘that Triple J guy’. I’m 25, this is my year to kick everyone’s arse, make a point of myself.”
If he keeps it up, 2013 is looking like Brendan Maclean’s busiest – and biggest – year yet.
Brendan Maclean, the Sydney muso and Twitter fanatic launches his new single ‘Stupid’ on February 22. Buy tickets to the launch at the Factory Floor here.