New Music / New Music

New Music: Brendan Maclean

We pick the hottest new live acts so you can tell your friends you heard them first. This week's pick is Sydney-based pop king Brendan Maclean.

Ticketmaster New Music is your one-stop destination to discover the best emerging live acts before they explode. These are the artists we’re expecting to make waves in the live music scene, and we want you to know about them first.


Sydney singer-songwriter Brendan Maclean is many things, and let us tell you, every single one of them is absolutely fabulous. Across his decade long career, he has explored the absolute breadth of what pop music can be. From the acoustic pop of his debut EP White Canvas, each of his five EPs launched off its predecessor, trying on new sounds and trying out new ideas – constantly expanding listeners expectations.

So by the time we got to 2019, and Maclean’s debut album And The Boyfriends, expectations were so wide that anything was possible. And that is exactly what we have been given. Forthright and direct in its lyricism – whether he’s looking inward or contemplating the world around him – you’ll find moments that’ll make you want to dance and others you can blissfully float along to. Working with an array of Australia’s brightest voices – including Kira Puru, Montaigne, Ainslie Wills, and Donny Benét – Maclean covers darker territory than ever before, taking listeners inside some of the most personal moments from right across his life.

In the best way, Brendan Maclean seems to pop up right when you need him to – seriously, once you’re aware of his existence, you will see him everywhere you go. His songs have been featured across pop culture (including podcast Welcome To Night Vale, and Netflix series Eastsiders), he broke the internet thanks to the video clip for his single House of Air (it won awards, was shown at film festivals and even gained a nod from HuffPo – it’s a little NSFW, so maybe watch it at home, you’ve been warned), he’s hosted on radio, performed in musicals, and to top it all off he even featured as Klipspringer in Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 film The Great Gatsby.

Maclean is as brilliant as he is bold, and if you haven’t heard of him yet, you’re definitely missing out.

The Story

From the beginning

Brendan Maclean: “I’m a giant Billy Elliot cliché. I grew up in Cronulla, and mum was quick to realise I wasn’t like other lads. Unfortunately for mum, and perhaps the whole world, the karate school she enrolled me in also held dance classes. Dance led to acting which led to musical theatre, where I learned I had a bit of a singing voice but hated musicals, so I wrote my own songs. So to the bullies who now have to put up with my face being plastered on street poles, you’ve only got yourselves to blame.”

What you’ll hear

BM: “It’s all pop. I have a reputation of being a genre-switcher, but really it’s all from the same seed; sometimes I do pop with a rock band, sometimes alone on piano, sometimes as spoken word poetry with Neil Gaiman, but it’s all pop.”

Influences & inspiration

BM: “Mum’s car was nothing but INXS, Diesel, and Shania Twain, whereas dad played nothing but triple j – not a terrible start. My sister also proved helpful with a splash of Silverchair and System of A Down in my teens. When I got around to choosing my own music it all went to the pianos: Ben Folds, Fiona Apple, The Whitlams, Nina Simone, Regina Spektor, Rufus Wainwright… give me the name of someone exploring their demons over 88 keys and I’m sold.”

For the love of music

BM: “That space where the song doesn’t exist yet but there is just a melody or a rhythm in the air is so magical – it’s like having an old friend visit or summoning a demon. Don’t get me wrong, the career part of it is the pits, it’s draining and often nothing to do with musicianship or creativity, but when you get back around to the actual music making, the playing part, it’s all worth it.”

Kicking goals

BM: “It’s hard to beat singing George Michael with the Symphony Orchestra at the Opera House…that’s a shiny memory. As for achievements, it’s hard to scale. These days, I’m convinced just getting a song finished and going to the trouble to release it in the face of global extinction is an achievement in itself.”

The year ahead

BM: “I’ve just put out my first LP: And The Boyfriends. It’s very much a concept album and the concept is, “What if Brendan was the lead singer of a band made up of the best musicians in Australia, (Donny Benet, Ainslie Wills, Kira Puru, Paul Mac… the list goes on). Next up, I’m supporting the wonderful John Grant at his Sydney and Melbourne shows before I head over to Atlanta for the first of my U.S. dates. I’ve never done my own headline set in America before so needless to say I’m shitting myself.”

Essential Listening

Brendan Maclean – Stupid

BM: “I wrote it about Tom Ballard when we worked at triple j together and he did not reciprocate my love, damn you Thomas.”

Brendan Maclean – Hibernia

BM: “If you’re a live music buff from Sydney, you’ll know Hibernian House. After playing a set with album producer Sarah Belkner, we were fiddling around on the keyboard together. Someone had the wise idea to record a draft, and two years later it ended up being the first single for And The Boyfriends. Love to The Preatures who used to record there and get a shout out in the final chorus.

Brendan Maclean – House of Air

BM: “Having made music videos for almost all the songs on my EP funbang1, I found myself in a sex store in London reading an essay called Gay Semiotics. 5,000,000+ views later and its music video has found me as many new fans as it did scare away old fans.”

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