Last Friday, after a five year hiatus, dance artist Brad Walsh released his new album SIX INFINITE. Before its debut, Walsh hosted a listening party at the famed Electric Lady Studios in New York, to give close friends, family, and press a taste of what was in store. He, with performance artist Anna Hafner, snuck away to talk with us about the album inspiration, Black Lives Matter, friend divorces and so much more.

Get ready everyone… it gets necessarily deep.

Let’s begin with your album SIX INFINITE; the inspiration behind it, and then we can go into … there’s been a hiatus of five years. Why?
Brad Walsh: (laughs) Well the ‘why’ is actually a very straightforward answer. The ‘why’ is, I am my own publishing company, my own label, and so no deadlines is why. I can perfect it, is the political answer, but the real answer is nobody is telling me to hurry the fuck up.
Anna Hafner: You’re not signed, you’re your own dude.
BW: So this album is 13 songs, 16 if you’re including the iTunes bonus stuff. And all of it … I wouldn’t say I’ve been writing for 5 years, I’ve been writing at probably more closer to 3 years, but it all really came around because I had a really dramatic friend divorce.

I lived with this girl, we couldn’t be closer, we were just best friends for, I think 10 years. I didn’t expect it, we had a huge friend break-up, not a big blowout or anything, we just sort of drifted. And it was all very confusing to me, and really depressing, and I had anxiety, and I started writing those kind of … they sound almost like relationship break-up songs, like romantic but they’re not. So in those 3 years … That gave me enough time. Things started morphing, I changed lyrics along the way. Even to me some of the meanings changed over time, which I think is kind of cool. Other things happen to you in life and then your past work can take on a whole new meaning for you.

So probably like three-fourths of the album stemmed from that and then changed along the way. One that survived completely intact, it’s very clearly about her, it’s called “What Did I Do To You?,” which isn’t even a mean song, it’s just a sad song. Towards the end of the process of this album, I added “Come Into My World,” which is a love song. I got married in July.

Oh, congratulations! 
BW: It’s the first love song I really completed, (laughs) because it’s hard for me to get to the end of. I’m much more in vibe with like … I can go all day with it, depression and anger type song. And then there’s a song called “Nicolette Likes Ladies,” which is about one of my best friends, Nicolette Mason … Do you know her? Do you know who she is?

Oh yeah, she’s with Glamour? [Sorry Nicolette!]
BW: Marie Claire. It’s just a fun party rock song about Nicolette. The last song that was completed is called “Available,” it’s track 1, and it’s a really pretty straightforward EDM dance kind of club song, except in the second half I added this part towards the end of writing it. It’s like a full minute-long spoken … I mean technically it’s a rap, but I can’t label myself that because it’s not my talent.

So there’s like a spoken part, it just came out of me in like 15 minutes one day. I was nearing the end of the song, and these words came out. It’s full of political frustration. It’s about Black Lives Matter. It’s about fucking Donald Trump. But not name-checking, because I don’t want to be too specifically topical on that, but it’s just about major frustration with the lack of empathy that is completely every-fucking-where.

Oh my, I just got chills.
BW: You have to listen to it. It’s the one I’m most proud of. You know how sometimes artists can be like, “I feel like I didn’t even write this, it just came out that way?” That’s how it felt for me. And when I was done, I sent it to her actually [points to Anna], and she was like, “This is some of your best writing ever.”

I don’t have the lyrics in front of me, but it’s just like, frustration of every single fucking day there is something, I’d wake up and there’s another hashtag. There’s another … someone’s father, killed by a cop, for no reason at all, there’s Sandra Bland hanged in a cell. It’s just every day there’s something new.

I have two homes. I have healthy dogs. I have family that loves me. I have money to just make whatever music I want and not worry about selling it, and the reality of that flooding into me every day, like through Twitter … Mediums that we’re lucky to have because otherwise we would clearly never know.

Never know!
BW: And people who say, “What’s with this uptick in this kind of violence. I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no.” If anything it’s lower than ever, but in the 60s, 70s, 80s, you didn’t hear a single word about it, because nobody gave a shit. And when a cop can murder a black person, because they were afraid of them, in 1975, it never went past anyone because the cop saying, “He had a gun,” was enough. You know what I mean?


Or, “I felt threatened.”
BW: Exactly. So the narrative now, being … the fact that everybody has a camera, witnesses having proof, cameras and recordings, and it’s made such a huge difference. It’s not an uptick in anything. It’s by far a downtick, it’s decreased a lot, but we’re just finding out about every single case now.

What’s scarier is the denial or defense of the action when there is proof.
BW: It’s just the fact that every time something new happens which is so frequently, there’s so many people whose knee-jerk reaction is defense of the cops, no matter what, or defense of the white person basically, no matter what. And it’s just flat-out racism, and I don’t understand why people don’t see this, in themselves and other people. I don’t understand the Blue Wall of Silence, I don’t understand why it’s just impossible for any cop to be wrong. I’m getting real deep into this, but it’s just so frustrating.

I love that you are because there’s some people I talk to and it’s so … You can tell at times that they want to say something but they’re so concerned with messing up their image. Or like losing a fan base.
BW: Or if you’re Taylor Swift, and you don’t say anything about the re-election because you’re trying … Listen, I totally get where some people come from, where they want to remain apolitical, and they want to remain silent about things, because they feel like it’s polite. But I just felt like we’re very past that.

Absolutely! We are.
BW: It’s dangerous now. To be quiet is to be complicit, and it’s just that simple, it’s dangerous now. Even as something is stupid and simple as Donald Trump. Taylor Swift got the middle heat recently, for not saying anything about Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump. In a lot of ways, I feel like I kind of don’t give a shit, but this is one issue, I think Black Lives Matter is another issue, I think before the passing of gay marriage … I think there’s some issues that if you are conspicuously silent about, then you’re talking more than if you spoke. You know what I mean?

Absolutely! I just keep getting chills, oh my god. And I completely agree with that, because I actually wrote a piece on how… I’m not a fan of the Kardashians, never have been, and I’m fine with that. But you have to give credit where credit is due, and I think that there is a rising of women, who are pretending to be pro-women, by using the term, “I’m a feminist, I’m this and that,” and in reality you’re not though. You know what I mean?
AH: You’re still upholding the values of the patriarchy, and this is very problematic, yeah.

Exactly. And it’s causing more harm, because right now people are looking at feminists as men-haters, and we’re not, so then adding those voices –
BW: Totally! Well they’ve always thought that. People love to say now, that like … what I’ve seen anyway is a lot of people. Like meninists, people who are really anti-feminism. One of the first defenses of that, that I see them say is, “It’s just that certain people on the fringes have hijacked feminism, and now it’s not about equality anymore.” You know they’ve been literally saying that since 1920. It’s because men … Two straight established men, white men, equality of any kind, feels like inequality to them.
AH: Exactly. The people who have been the oppressors, once they feel the voices, they feel like they’re being oppressed, but it’s like, “No, people are just trying … ”

[There was a brief interruption so Anna never got to finish her statement.]

I think for me, with you being here, of course I want to hear your voice, just because I think that everyone has a view and it needs to be heard. You know what I mean? So I work part-time as a house manager for this really, really dope family. They created a company, in seven years become a multi-million dollar company, and it was just bought over last year. Blond hair blue eyes, they have 3 kids, one daughter is Chinese. And the female boss talks to me and she’s so open about race. Something happened to me at Stewart Weitzman, and I’m like, “Oh, yeah, I exchanged it but it was really weird but whatever.” And she goes, “Do you think it was because you’re black?” And I was like, “Oh, I never thought about that.” She acknowledged it, but for me it felt like something I was so used to, I didn’t notice.
BW: Do you know what’s funny? Just today, I published an essay on Huffington Post, it went live today. And it’s about racism and growing up. I grew up outside Cleveland, Ohio. I’m half Syrian but in that place I was a white kid in an a white house, except when I went to school, at a Catholic school, when all the kids would ask me, “What country are you from?” I had a very ethnically ambiguous childhood. So I wrote this piece for Huffington Post about racism, and specifically in the queer community because it’s fucking everywhere, especially among white gay men. Once marriage equality passed they were like, “Oh, civil rights is over.” Umm, no. They’re still talking about transwomen, we’re still talking about how black lesbians don’t live past 40. There’s a lot more than just white gay marriage.

So I wrote this whole thing about it and I know I’m going to get blown the fuck up, but I can’t re-comment. But I talked about, like, I know from personal experience that as a gay man, I was not immune to homophobia even. So I think any oppressed minority is not immune to buying into it. And like you not noticing someone being shitty to you that later upon reflection you think negative about race in some way, it’s because you grew up in the same place we all did, and you’d have the same shit to deal with. But it’s about yourself.

When I was growing up gay in suburban Ohio, in a primarily republican family, just terrified, that I totally internalized it. I mean to this day I’m 34, and I still have trouble holding my husband’s hand in public, because I’m like, “Well what are they going to think?” In Chelsea, New York!


Because you never know, that’s what it has always been.
BW: We’re not immune from it. We know what’s up, but we’re not immune from our own … from the shit that’s used to keep us down.
AH: From the societal brain-washing essentially that have kept minorities down.
BW: Same with just women, in general. There are plenty of super republican women.
AH: I’m a white, blue-eyed, privileged –
BW: But you say sorry too much, you know what I mean?

I stopped. When I hear a woman say sorry, I’m like, “Listen, we say it way too much.” You’ve got to stop that.
BW: She apologizes for things not her fault.
AH: And that’s part of, I think, growing up as a woman and I grew up in the woods in Woodstock.

I went there last weekend for my birthday and met Grandpa Woodstock.
AH: Oh, happy birthday. He’s so bad. He’s like the Oxycontin seller. He’s a character. Woodstock is very beautiful. It’s different. But you know what, I was very lucky, because Woodstock is kind of nice place to grow up in.

Did you grow up near Olive?
AH: Yeah! So now Olive is a racist, not as racist. There’s definitely a lot of…

I saw a lot of Trump/Pence lawn things.
BW: I can believe people would vote for Trump over Hillary just because of their lifelong shit. I cannot believe that any intelligent person would be very pro-Trump. That’s what I don’t get. Like it’s not just people being like, “Well, I guess I’ll vote for Trump because he’s a Republican.” A lot of people are like, “I really like Trump.” What’s wrong with you?
AH: Upstate New York is so divided, it’s like Trump, Hillary, Trump, Hillary, Trump. But I’ve almost seen more Trump stuff than Hillary.

[Brad was being called to introduce his album, so we had time for just one more question.]

Tell me about the album cover.
BW: So we did the album cover, she was at my house in Connecticut with me one night, and we like to have our 3 or 4-day hangout, just leave the rest of the world behind.
AH: We watched like four movies that day. (laughs)
BW: I know. (laughs) So she painted her face that night, I painted my face. We had like 3 bottles of wine, and I said, “These are so cool, let’s take photos,” And it wasn’t a shoot I did for the cover. We just took those photos without makeup and stuff. Then a week later, I was like, “These are really good, I might use one of these for the cover,” and it was perfect.

Six Infinite is available on iTunes with bonus tracks, and Make sure to gawk at his wedding photos. YES, the wedding Danielle Brooks was Instagraming about this summer.