Throwing back to New York’s glamorous decades of thrashy-trashy disco and punk, current GLAM nominee and indie pop / multimedia star Benjy Bradshaw is also bringing something fresh to the scene.
Thotyssey: Hello Benjy, Happy New Year!
Benjy Bradshaw: Hi loves! Happy flippin’ New Year!
Did you do anything fun for the occasion?
For New Years Eve, I was a Basic B and stayed in to celebrate my new track. However, I went out Thursday night in San Francisco to support my DJ friend DJ Phantom Cat. He killed it!
Oh, fun! Are you a frequent West Coaster?
I grew up in the Bay Area–my parents and besties live there. I always go home to see the fam, and hit the SF clubs!
Were you always into music and performing while growing up?
My parents definitely influenced my love for music. My dad is an underground / experimental sound artist, so growing up so we always had synths, guitars, amps, and vinyl around the house. My mom is a Broadway theatre lover, and would take us to see all the musicals when they hit San Francisco. The merging of these sounds made me into the theatrics of sound along with the fantasticness of a fierce visual experience. Seeing The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time was life changing, as I think it merged all of these genres perfectly.
For one of my early birthdays, my father bought me my first guitar. A small Casio synth followed a few years later. Before hitting high school, I already started writing music hidden in my bedroom. Honestly, it wasn’t until I moved to NYC that I pushed myself to perform. Until then, I would only create secretly.
Tell us about how and where in New York the performing started.
My first NYC performance was offered to me by my current [music and production outfit] slickcontrol collaborator, Melissa F. Clarke. Melissa had been performing all over NYC, and was hosting a winter show in 2017. She gave me a 20 minute set, and I pushed myself to the limit with homemade outfits. I had multiple costume changes and outfit reveals! After posting footage and video from that (along with posting about my vocal lessons), other NYC based hosts and promoters saw my work and offered me gigs at underground parties. The rest is history!
How might you describe your sound and stage presence today?
I am very theatrical and I love to blend genres! Purposely, none of my shows are the same as I want the audience to receive a different experience every time they come. In a nutshell, I definitely pay homage to the 1980s underground as my heart and soul belong there. I am very influenced also by techno and house music, so my shows always have a lively energy.
I often share my personal stories and struggles. In that way, my shows become a visual experience. I want the audience to forget their world and to join me in mine. Furthermore, my performances are very interactive and I always find someway to incorporate the audience… even if it means they’re hitting center stage with me!
During the Pandemic, you and Lucia Fuchsia had a digital presence called Corona Queens where you gave on-screen shows and even did a live interview from a socially distanced 3 Dollar Bill. What was that whole experience like… and did that inform the multimedia visuals you were known for today, or were those skills already there?
I had met Lucia the night before NYC lockdown started, at a event she hosted and where I performed. Three days later, Lucia asked if I wanted to co-host Corona Queens and I agreed without a doubt. Co-hosting with her was a humbling experience, as we were able to meet so many talented drag queens and kings in NYC and across the world.
The live interview we did at 3 Dollar Bill was an honor as it was with the We’re Here series creators. Being able to talk with the producers behind such a groundbreaking show was an honor.
Corona Queens definitely opened me up to the queer community worldwide, and it challenged me to perform in creative ways. I learned to incorporate video projectors into my shows, and also how to record video and promote the performances. And I learned about the power of finding an online family and community. Such a beautiful thing!
Thank you so much! I had so much fun creating that video. I recorded the vocals and produced the track the evening before, and then stayed up late one night to beat my face and turn the look. Finally, I designed the set and animation on my own, plus edited it. Overall, it took about 12 hours or so. I love creating videos like that. I actually have an extended mix of that track, which includes a few more bops in it. I plan to release it in advance of the GLAM awards!
And congrats on your own debut GLAM nomination, Best Video for your original “Love is Love!”
Thank you so much! Yes, this is my first GLAM nomination and I am so thrilled to actually be able to attend the ceremony in person for the first time. “Love Is Love” is a very special song for me because I wrote it not only for myself, but for the world. When DJ micfreak created the “Studio 69” mix for Pride 2022, I knew I wanted to create a very special video which focused more of the club scene and how nightlife transformed me.
I decided to cast an all-NYC based team, because NYC nightlife is what allowed me to grow into the artist I am today. The venue we filmed at is called Hohm; it is a fantastic after hours spot that really feels like a home for me. The cast and crew all brought their fantastic personalities and energy to the set. It was a blast to film, and the fact that this is the video that will serve as my first nomination is so fitting.
Got your GLAM look together yet?
Yes, I do! I cannot wait to werk the GLAM carpet!
And now you’ve just dropped a brand new track: DJ DiCristino’s “TechPunk remix of “I Just Want Love,” streaming everywhere!
The release has been a wonderful collaboration, and I am so excited this mix is in the world (with more mixes and a music video coming soon). I met DiCristino on the Twitch streaming platform, and I was amazed by his incredible attention to his beats as well as his fantastic catalogue of music. When he wanted to work together, I was so excited.
My music often has some dark undertones, partly due to my voice–but also because when I write, I write from my heart and soul. Knowing the release would be dropping in early 2023, I wanted to create a message about what I hope for this year. I want all of us to find love! Not only in a romantic way, but creatively as well. Love can take many forms, and in this song I want you to interpret what love means to you. I proclaim, “I just want love” — it’s such a simple yet complicated desire.
What else is coming up for you?
In addition to releasing the rest of the “I Just Want Love” mixes and it’s official music video, I am currently in talks for some gigs this month! The shows are still in the works, but anyone interested should definitely follow my Instagram or TikTok as I post all my shows and releases there! I also have new collaborations debuting, including new @slickcontrol remixes, so stay tuned for that on my socials!
All very exciting! Lastly: what’s some advice you might have for a potential indie recording artist thinking of how to break through?
Never stop making things and never stop sharing those things publicly! I think a way to manage that is to create (almost on the daily, but with breaks) so that it becomes natural and doesn’t pile up (it can be working your lewk if it isn’t music), and then share that somehow (social media or a friend). I think everything else comes to you over time.
Once you’re creating and people are seeing it, you will grow and grow and … grow.
Thank you Benjy, see you at the GLAMs!