Actor, singer, and Neon Coven member Brandon Alberto feels no guilt about releasing his debut pop-dance track, “Shame Shame.”
Accompanied with a music video directed by fashion photographer Christian Blanchard, “Shame Shame” is the first single from his upcoming EP, This Is a Distraction. Born out of a global pandemic and influenced by the nostalgic pop sounds of the 80s and 90s, Alberto wrote, arranged, and produced the song entirely on his own from his NYC apartment, and performed it for the first time on June 17 live at Playbill Pride’s Glimmer of Light concert.
“Shame Shame” came from a long-overdue look within myself to examine the parts of me that I’ve been ashamed of, masked behind resentment and jealousy,” Alberto said.
In addition to Alberto’s songwriting credits, he has appeared in shows such as Kinky Boots and the immersive club musical Oscar at the Crown, and has served as the creative director for recording artist Samantha Johnson.
Instinct sat down with Alberto to talk more about the track and what he hopes to accomplish with his music.
Hi, Brandon! Thank you for taking some time to chat with me about your debut single, “Shame Shame.” How exciting is it for you to release this song out into the world?
It is very exciting! It was a little nerve wracking leading up to it, but the response that I have gotten so far has been great and exciting, and it feels very liberating. This is the first time that I have been able to put all my creative energy and spirit into a project of my own. So, I am thrilled.
The song has been received well by audiences?
So far, yes! Everyone seems to be loving it and having a good time, and the music video is a fun, little queer celebration. I think people have been loving it so far.
Can you tell us more about the concept and inspiration behind the song?
Sure. I don’t want to dive too much about what brought about the song, just because I don’t want to insert my own narrative. I think that is the beauty of pop music and that’s what makes pop music universal. Whenever you hear a song for the first time, you sort of immerse yourself in that world and come up with your own images and references to what you hear.
I will say that it started with someone in playful conversation saying it’s such a shame about something that was totally not serious. It started to bother me, the more that I replayed that phrase in my mind, and I immediately came up with a chorus of the song. As I was continuing to write the verses, all the way through the end, I just kept questioning, what is shame? What does it mean? How does it affect us, especially as queer people? I just kind of wanted to look more into it and made a pop song about it.
You did a live performance of “Shame Shame” at Playbill Pride: Glimmer of Light at Radial Park in NYC. How did that go?
That went so well. The show was part of a bigger project produced by The Neon Coven, which is a queer performance collective that I am a part of. They are a great, beautiful, spirited group of artists, and I was so happy to be a part of the show and finally bring my own artistry to the table. It was very exciting.
“Shame Shame” is the first single from an upcoming EP?
Yes. I have five songs, I am putting the finishing touches on them, and I am hoping to release it sometime this summer.
What is the best advice you can offer to those who are having a hard time letting go of guilt and shame?
Everyone’s journey is so different, but for me, the way that I got out of it was by relying on friends and keeping people in my circle that celebrate me for who I am and my own differences. Helping to empower me. I think the best advice I can give is to be careful about who you spend your energy on and your time with. The people around you are also an extension of who you are, and I think it is very important to have positive, uplifting, supportive people in your life.
You wrote, arranged, and produced this “Shame Shame” entirely on your own from your NYC apartment. Was it a challenging process?
To be honest, not really. Learning the technology of producing took a minute, but I have been writing and producing baby projects for a long time. As long as I’ve owned a MacBook [laughs]. Starting on GarageBand, playing around with all the features. When the pandemic hit, I found myself at home alone with nothing but my thoughts and ideas. It was easy for me to dive in and learn, grow, and explore.
Have you always had a passion for singing and songwriting?
Yes. My very first memory of any song was “Everybody Dance Now” by C+C Music Factory, back in the 90s. I remember jamming out to that song and singing along as loud as I could. I have been involved with music and performance my entire life. I don’t know anything else as well as I do music and art.
You initially pursued a career in theatre. Would you like to continue stage work, or do you want to focus more on being a solo artist?
I have had incredible experiences in my career with theater that I do not take for granted. I think everything that I have done prior to this point has prepared me to move on and move forward. I am nothing without the experiences that have led to where I am at, but for what I am seeing right now, I do want to solely focus on my music and my own creativity. It feels great and empowering, and I want to keep chasing this feeling.
What do you hope listeners take away from your music?
First of all, joy. I think it is so important that people laugh and smile and do not take themselves too seriously. I hope people dance as hard as they can and sing at the top of their lungs to my music, but at the end of the day, if they have listened to the song a million times, and they just start to listen to the lyrics and maybe start to have some questions about the work, even better. That is a joy, always.
Can you talk more about your musical aesthetic?
I am a child of the 90s, so dance music and house music is something that is in my bones and blood. I grew up listening to the boombox and listening to Top 40 radio. Subconsciously, I think that just has a huge influence on what I produce and how I produce. I do not necessarily write with a specific sound in mind. I just sort of let the lyrics, melody, and the feeling of it drive where I go with the production.
I am influenced by so many artists, and especially now that queer art is finally making its way unapologetically into the mainstream. I am so inspired by younger pop artists like Years & Years and Lil Nas X. I think what they are doing is incredible, and I am just so inspired by them.
What more do you hope to accomplish with your musical platform?
I would love to get my music playing in large venues. I want to hear that bass bumping in the air. I want to tour and just be in front of people, especially after this past year of us being cooped up in our homes. I love being around people and I love sharing energy, so that is what I want to do. The bigger the audience, the better for me.
Before we wrap up, are there any other upcoming projects or anything else you would like to mention or plug?
My EP is coming in the next month or so. Follow me on social media to keep up-to-date with that!