You’d think Brad Walsh has it all: a flourishing music and photography career (he’s sold over 9 million digital downloads of his tracks!) and a five-year relationship with superstar fashion designer Christian Siriano. But life hasn’t all been so glam for the Ohio native.
In particular, he was the victim of a brutal hate crime a few years ago, an experience that led him to pen "D.F.W.M." on his new album, Right Now (out now).
Check out the track above and read on as Walsh talks about life in the limelight and his recent gay bashing.
UsMagazine.com: You don't sing on most of your albums but you will be singing on this album, correct?
Brad Walsh: I had one album where I sang my own songs, an album of stuff I produced, and a remix album last year. This is only my real second album where I sing everything.
Us: What was the writing and recording process like?
BW: This album took two years. I write and produce everything myself and I recorded it at home in my studio. The album was completely born and raised in my bedroom. I'm not with a label so I do it all independently and it happens on my own schedule. First come the beats and then the lyrics and the melody come later.
Us: Do you play every instrument, or is it just all synthesized?
BW: The only instrument I play is keys. I can't read music, so it's mostly programmed.
Us: Where were you drawing most of your inspiration from?
BW: Most of the songs are upbeat and happy. There's a song about my biological father who I've never met. He got really sick, and he asked me indirectly if I could donate bone marrow and blood, and I said no because he had claimed I was not his child. These songs come from a weird, dark place. It's definitely my most personal, but I've done darker music in the past. The struggle is making dark-themed music that other people enjoy.
Us: What is the next step now that the album's out?
BW: I love to share all my new stuff with all the DJs. I love hearing, when a DJ says, "I played this in some other country." I've already given this album to hundreds of people.
Us: Anyone could go and download it now on Facebook, right?
BW: It's going to be free on my website for a week. I'm trying to build a career for myself. I'm so happy and proud of this music so I wanted everybody to hear it. If people like something, they'll buy it.
Us: How do your family and friends feel about your music?
BW: I grew up in Cleveland where there's a lot of music, new and old. My family was always into music but nobody was a performer. They are happy that I get to perform and that I'm here in New York.
Us: Are you shocked by the success of some of the other New York homegrown talent right now? Like Lady Gaga, The Scissor Sisters...
BW: I remember being at parties with Lady Gaga and the Scissor Sisters. Everybody there would dress up and pretend to be famous, and every idiot with his or her iPod was a DJ. Gaga pretended from the beginning that she was famous, acted like it, and then it worked. Go her. Without those kinds of people, I couldn't be doing what I'm doing.
Us: What is your stance on the gay marriage debate in NYC?
BW: We would love to have the option to get married but if we decide we want to get married we can't. If given the chance we will get married because we're together five years. There's a song on the new album called "D. F. W. M." which stands for Don't F*** With Me and it's about a time when I was walking and this truck driver got out, punched me in the face, called me a faggot, and chased me down the street. That was the first time a stranger has touched me in an angry manner. I made a big deal about it in the media and eventually got him fired. The police wouldn't classify it as an assault, so they called it harassment, which is not what it was. Nobody would stick around to be my witness for the police. It was one of those moments where I was like 'wow, it's really not the world I thought it was.' It took me two years to write that very angry song.
Us: Do you find that it's difficult traveling around the world with Christian, and working on your own stuff?
BW: It's a pretty good life. He's obviously famous. I've always loved traveling and now I get to go with him everywhere. I wouldn't say it's difficult to do my own thing, because it’s mostly creativity and can happen on any time scale. If we have a long flight I can write, edit photos, and make music. I can do anything from my little laptop.
Us: Do you feel like his fame overshadows you?
BW: He's more well-known, but I don't think it overshadows me. I haven't found that people want to only talk about him. But when they do I'm happy to talk about him. He's my life, so it makes sense to me.
Us: You don't feel like your own music and own photography is overshadowed at all?
BW: I think they're pretty separate. I do all his runway music and he has a lot of input in my music as I'm making it.
Us: Do you find it annoying when you’re out together and people come up to you to take a picture?
BW: I was irritated when people would ask me to hold the camera because in New York nobody talks to each other, and so all of a sudden every stranger who we ever ran into would be like "Can you take this picture?" I was like "What? What's happening?" We've been together for five years now, so I'm used to it. I would say like 95% of his fans are respectful. I think for girls it's a lot worse. He doesn't have the crazy fans like Justin Bieber -- but Justin looks like a girl.
US: How do you guys manage to stay in a relationship for five years?
BW: He works like a dog, six days a week, in a studio nearby. I do my thing and he's does his thing and we don't see each other for 12 hours of the day. When he comes home we watch a movie, have dinner and calm down and relax. I can't stand being with him at work because I will have a stress ulcer! His studio is so hectic.
Us: He obviously supports your album and likes your music, right?
BW: Yeah, he's my biggest fan.