A star player on the college basketball court and a star rapper on stages large and small, Will Sheridan aka G.I.A.N.T. has killed it in every way. Being out in both of those worlds has given him headline status, but Will is first and foremost a top notch musician and entertainer. Get yourself a G.I.A.N.T. serving of Sheridan in this exclusive Thotyssey breakdown!
Thotyssey: Hi Will, thanks for talking to us! First off, congratulations on your Best Male Artist GLAM win! Was that your first?
Will Sheridan: First GLAM win, third nomination.
Well it was damn well-deserved. You’ve become such a respected performer in nightlife. And you performed on GLAM night as well–what was that song you did?
I performed ”Push” and “FMF (Fuck My Face),” both available for free download.
It was a great performance, and it’s so refreshing to hear rap live at a LGBT event. Have you noticed many more new openly gay rap artists since you starting performing and recording?
Gay rap artists have existed way before me, so I won’t take credit for being the only pioneer in Queer rap. But what I will say is, since I’ve come along the quality of gay rap has definitely gone up! Better bar, better songs, better music better live shows, and I feel a part of that growth!
As well you should. I was wondering a little about your writing process. How does it work, usually: do you freestyle and keep what works, or do you start with an idea and write to that?
I freestyle often to keep my mind fresh and current. I usually get a few beats, listen to what inspires me and create a song by mapping out the chorus or hook, then verses–or vice versa. All it takes is one word to start a song, and then I’m in it, and it just comes to me.
Apropos of only the fact that I just watched a clip of him performing all cute and shirtless on one of the late shows, what do you think of Childish Gambino? Is he really just a TV actor that’s a wannabe musician, or is the talent there?
I like what Childish Gambino work I know, but I don’t know all his work. I’m okay with everyone making art that makes them happy.
Okay, let’s jump back to the beginning for a bit. OMG, you’re from a place called Bear?
I was born in Bear, Delaware–yup, makes me a gay superhero.
Totally! I see there’s a population there now of about 18,000… damn, that’s small. How long did you live there?
I lived in Delaware until I was 18, and went to college at Villanova University, But at 14 years-old, I was never really home because I was touring the country for basketball.
So, have music and sports always been these kind of twin passions for you, or did they take turns in your life?
Sports came when this Queer, heavyset outsider had a 6-inch growth spurt, and basketball made me popular. It just took over. I mean, I play baseball and football, but basketball came in 6th grade when I was dealing with a lot of identity issues. It really exposed character in me I didn’t know was there. That as a result helped shaped who I am on stage today!
Music came after poetry and spoken word were my outlets, but I wanted to be on a main stage. So after writing for Source Magazine, I realized that I could do what these artists I was covering were doing in my own way. Going In And Never Timid, #GIANT has been my mission statement ever since.
Ironically the NGBA (National Gay Basketball Association) really helped me network and get out of NYC to perform.
You had a great run with the Villanova Wildcats in college, and you’ve spoken before about how your friends and teammates sheltered you from allegations about your sexuality before you were out. As far as the sport itself… Did you actually enjoy playing, or was it just something you happened to be really good at?
Both. I was a natural, and I felt obligated to play and get the hell out of Delaware and do something with my life. Reflecting, I grew up an only child (but 1 of 4)… so I really enjoyed being around a group of people that had a connection and one goal–to be the best team and win games!
Do you keep in touch with any of your teammates today?
Yes, Nardi is one of my best friends… he coaches at ‘nova now. Randy Foye, as of this year, plays for the Brooklyn Nets, so we see each other often. I’m in touch with Jason Fraser, Curtis Sumpter, Kyle Lowry, Baker Dunleavy, Dante Cunningham… basically everyone.
That’s great. Do you miss that world, sometimes? The court, the adrenaline rush, the competitiveness?
I get a bigger buzz from performing. Instead of five on five, it’s one versus the crowd. I loved playing; I love performing more.
Who were your early musical inspirations, as you started to evolve as a performer?
Missy Elliot, Busta Rhymes… and then it became more Jay Z, Kanye West… and now it’s Nicki Minaj, J. Cole, Beyoncé and Meek Mill.
When you recorded your album G.I.A.N.T., were you already going by that name as a performer, or did you name yourself after it?
That album was my third project, and really was me coming into what I wanted for myself. People started calling me Giant after that album, so it worked for me when branding myself and hosting. I always hated when people would comment on my height by calling me a giant. So I wanted to flip that trigger, and make it something I could kind of enjoy and be proud of, and basically get over myself. So after the first G.I.A.N.T. album, yes I started answering to G.I.A.N.T.
A lot of your lyrics and videos have strong sexual elements in them. Is bringing on the sexy easy for you as a performer, or do you have to put aside any insecurities?
My rap persona is a part of who I am–maybe a little exaggerated. I think confidence is sexy, so I try to be as confident as possible. And in that confidence,I found love for my flaws. So performance and my music has really brought that out of me.
In addition to how I feel and act, my performance looks are currently and mostly by BCalla, a Brooklyn based artist I love to wear. We design the looks to make me feel sexy, and allow me to really get into my music live. The combination of all that has allowed me really put my insecurity aside.
My favorite videos of yours are for “What’s Your Phunktion?” & “Cut a RUG,” because I like watching all you Brooklyn kids roll around and be cool, it’s very Warhol Factory.
How did you hook up with Merrie Cherry and the Brooklyn scene to begin with?
Merrie Cherry is my nightlife wife–we probably met at Metropolitan. As far as the Brooklyn scene: I was part of the Sugarland days- I used to get booked there all the time by Paul Irvine and other party promoters. Brooklyn is mine as far as live music goes–I’m Barack OhBrooklyn! Merrie is my Michelle OhBrooklyn, ask her.
“Eight more years, eight more years!” Let’s talk about Hot Fruit, the Monday night Metropolitan Bar party/show that you’ve taken over full hosting duties for with DJ Econ recently. That’s a really eclectic night, with performers from many worlds and genres. What’s your history with Hot Fruit?
Yeah, so I humbly walked in to Hot Fruit on a Monday and asked [then-host and DJ] David Sokolowski could I perform, and he said “yes, I know who you are,” and made me the closing act with Big Dipper for the 1 year Anniversary party. Over time, I just started being the MC of the party, then I would help curate the acts with David just to help.
Then I started opening DJing, just to mix it up while MCing… then I looked up, and it was the 4 year anniversary, and David wanted to pursue other opportunities. So I just stepped up, and Econ convinced me that the brand Hot Fruit should continue. We kept it going in respect for what David and us built!
How is the talent recruited for the show?
I know so many people that perform, and new talent always walks in the door. I also go support other artists, so I scout new talent then.
It’s hard to pull off a successful Monday night, especially in Brooklyn, but y’all own it.
It’s not hard: we know a lot of talent, and a lot of people drink on Mondays because of their odd jobs. The mix is pretty magical!
Is there any particular Hot Fruit guest performer that you can remember that just really slayed the night there?
As far as talent: I slay always, and whenever the party needs a bump! All jokes aside, Charlene has slayed, Cakes Da Killa has performed, Ash B slayed, Boy Radio has slayed, Dida Ritz from RuPaul’s Drag Race slays, Jae Neal, Gramma, Merrie Cherry, Rify Royalty… I could go on and on.
I see you do a lot of hosting and DJing at other parties, like the Ladyfag and Frankie Sharp weeklies, and I believe maybe the Deryck Todd party once or twice. When you do gigs like that, do you feel like you have to do something to adapt to the “brand” of each room, or are you just always you?
You are right: I’ve worked with Susanne Bartsch, Deryck Todd, Horrorchata, Frankie and Lady–I feel like everyone books me to just be my crazy self, dance, drink, invite people and have a good time. They are booking G.I.A.N.T., so essentially they are booking me, not some alt version of me.
As far as writing and recording goes, what’s the most recent stuff out there for you, and/or what’s in the works?
“FMF” is my most recent recording available here. I’m currently working on my third G.I.A.N.T. album, currently titled “AlleGIANT.” I have three songs done. I may put one out at the end of January. The second G.I.A.N.T. album, “G2,” is also a free download.
Sweet! How about gigs and appearances coming up? And are you in any of those “Queens of Kings” videos that all the kids are doing, or that Killer Unicorns of Anusburg movie project?
I’m not in “Queens of Kings” yet. I’m briefly in the Killer Unicorns movie, but I’m producing the soundtrack for the film. As far as gigs, I’m doing Monster January 7th, and am in talks to do some other local parties. I won’t do anything travelling until I’m back to 100% with my Achilles repair.
Oh no, what happened to your Achilles?
I tore my it on September 3rd.
Ouch. So, as an unabashed queer champion of two universes where queerness is still not largely embraced–athletics and hip hop–what advice might you give to the small but growing number of individuals who want to be out and still accepted in those realms?
Be you, be great, and they will respect you–if you respect yourself and are confident in your life choices, period.
Okay, last question: What’s your New Years Resolution, if you had to have one?
2016 was all about highs and lows. In 2017, I want to continue to grow and challenger myself to go further and be better. I don’t make resolutions, but I’d love to find and hold to love. I’d love to start planning for the future, and I’d love to enhance my brand.
Looking forward to a G.I.A.N.T. 2017! Thanks, Will!
Will Sheridan hosts Hot Fruit Monday nights (10pm) at Metropolitan Bar. Click here for a full list of upcoming gigs. Follow Will on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Soundcloud and iTunes.