Brihony Dawson - Songwriter, Entertainer, Vocalist, MC & TV presenter
Today’s episode focuses on a very interesting person who’s gone through a lot of challenges to get where they are now. They are a songwriter, TV presenter, entertainer, vocalist, MC and head of Hank Lives Here Productions. They are the lead singer of LadyHood with an astounding 49.2 thousand followers on Instagram and have performed at events such as the Melbourne Cup and Sydney Mardi Gras. Today’s guest, Brihony Dawson(they/them) spent a lot time at the start of their career getting rejected and turned down at every corner but has brilliantly managed make a successful brand for themselves and strives to continue growing every day.
Brihony talks about their experience of enhancing their business skills during lock-down and found a love of watching their company grow month to month. They are also a very successful businessperson who prides themselves on being the reliable and responsible entertainer compared to the stereotypical unreliable ones. They have also spent time in LA and Nashville learning from those who believe “making it big” is possible, and not just a dream. They have also worked with so many amazing people while developing their song-writing skills and preaches to always be the least talented in the room as a way learn and grow.
They have faced their own challenges with gender identity and hope other people struggling with gender identity can draw on their experiences, so that those people can feel comfortable with being what they can see as opposed to what they cannot see.
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Check out full transcript here:
Welcome to She Knows, hosted by Brandon Burns, another show from Torched Productions. This is the show where we tell the stories of amazing women doing amazing things. We share stories of adversity, success leading as a woman, overcoming challenges with gender stereotypes and role models for women all over the world.
Tune in to walk away with at least one queenside every episode that will help you on your journey. Let's get down to the show and if you like what you hear. Don't forget to subscribe and reviewers on all your favorite platforms and visit us at Get Torcht.
Dot com. Welcome back, everyone, to another episode of our amazing new show. She knows today's episode is a special, inclusive, diverse episode. I'm super excited to have this guest on. We spent a lot of time together performing, working across different projects, and, of course, spending a lot of time at Crown Entertainment Complex, which is a real staple herein Australia. Now, I'm going to tell you a little bit about our guests. Then I'm going to introduce them to you and we're going to get down to it. So they are a songwriter, entertainer, vocalist, emcee and TV presenter.
They also head up Hank leaves, he productions they identify as gender nonbinary. They are the lead singer of a band. Ladyhood is 49 and a half thousand Instagram followers. And this amazing guest has supported the likes of Aerosmith.
Daryl Braithwaite. She's before I'm sorry. She they have performed at a fund drum free, the Melbourne Cup and the Sydney Mardi Gras. It's Brawne Dorce. And how are you? Who they almost got there and I know I know if they could I stop it that sometimes I shave myself all the time.
The air show, of course, is called She Knows. And we've gone to market. Shining light on amazing women, doing amazing things that I want you to maybe to take the opportunity. Give me a bit of a lesson or a better understanding of how you identify and this conversation that we need to have.
And yeah, just tell me a little better. Well, I identify as gender nonbinary, so I don't sort of fit into the the female, I guess, or woman in the spectrum of gender. And I don't fit into the male spectrum of gender either.
I just sort of fit somewhere in the middle. And it was sort of it's sort of, I guess, a way I've been feeling, if I really think back, it's something that I've felt for a really long time. I just never knew what it was.
I didn't know how to process that feeling. And and they're really like there were no role models for me growing up to be. Well, maybe I feel this while there's this great person. Hello, Dolly. I've got a little daughter, Lucy, who just popped in to say, Lucy, how are you?
Said, Mommy, honey, you can see Mommy, give me one second, brought him over his. I could see just a middle of a. But. How fun was that? Sorry about that. That's okay. I'll chop this bit, but yet so.
So you keep keep going forward. Tell me about sort of you know, we've ended up in new level of comfortability and sort of now you've gotten to where you are. Yeah. So, yeah, like growing up, I always sort of felt different and I didn't really, really didn't know how to process those feelings.
I didn't know what they meant. And there was just no no role models. I didn't know it was a possibility to be not a woman, you know, vagina owners, women, which is what everyone thinks. And it's it's just it's really breaking down those feelings, but then deconstructing the way that people and society, we're told, to think about gender as opposed to just like your sex, which are two completely different things. It's it's man, it's fascinating the way people feel about gender and how important it is, especially especially to men and their gender. And you know, what it means to be a man and those stereotypical things and and just the language we use and the like. I mean, you could talk for a whole bloody day about gender and how we're supposed to feel about it. And once you start unwrapping that and being like, rob l, I don't feelthat way about that and you just have a human element at it.
Other than woman and man, it kind of it uses the pressure a little bit as well. And it's really hard language wise to stop saying to her, he's him. But we do it all the time. We use them pronouns all the time for if you don't know the gender of someone, you say that.
But a lot of people and for years, if you don't know the gender, you use male pronouns. The the the sound guys, always the sound guy. You know, you're this guy and that guy, you know, the only thing that's typically a woman is a car, you know.
And so it's it's it's it's a challenge to break down those that those language barriers and those perceptions of gender and what that means. Yeah, totally. I can't wait. I'm looking forward to learning so much on today's episode.
I have to ask, do we do this with all of our guests? And I know your answer is going to be somewhat skewed because we're you're in lockdown. So maybe give me an idea of what is a typical day in the life of Brian Dawson look like pre and during lockdown.
Yeah. OK, so Prae is just go, go, go. Like my I guess my my business and my profile as an entertainer has grown exponentially in the last couple of years. I've really put a lot of effort and drive and focus into it.
And I think I've built myself up to be one of the media entertainers in Victoria, at least like, you know, now local sort of community of artists. And so it would just they go, guy, guy, I'd get up.
I spent a lot of time, you know, hustling like you, Brandohustling, getting the next getting the next gig, making sure I've got that quick turnaround time from inquiry to email back and you're quote in that kind of stuff and qualifying your leads and all that.
And then the night time's a mainly gigs like any night of the week. And yeah, just sort of prepping for those. And I love love looking at the fashion side of everything as well. So I love shopping and seeing how I can sort of turn up to a gig in the best possible way.
And now during lockdown, all of that's out the window. I sleep in eight my weetbix. I talk on a podcast, and that'll be the highlight of my bloody day. Right now, I have to ask, because this is really interesting, especially for a high performer like yourself, there's no doubt going to be things that you've implemented into your routine during lockdown that you weren't previously that have actually become a real, real godsend or they've improved your efficiency or your effectiveness. What would maybe one or two of those be? I think my answer is going to be really boring, but it is like boot.
It's like the the the back end of all of that stuff. I was one of those people who, you know, did like had five or six years of tax that I hadn't done. And, you know, I hadn't, you know, and I've gotten a lot better a tit.
And I was like, how can I make this easier for myself? I'll do it at the end of every month, and then I will have like a snapshot of what my business looks like, where I get it imperfect.
And it's made it's been really good. But God, it's been I'm just not I'm not a sit still person, but I am quite analytical. So it's it's I love the end product of seeing all of that stop in the areas that I can improve.
But sitting down to Facundo, it is just like I hate it. I really, really hate it. So what? So when you reconsolidation. Yeah. So I got hit when I downloaded quick books to do it. I had to like like I can't clickthrough YouTube videos and stop to watch this book, someone on Airtasker.
And I had this guy and he gave me a a lesson online and he was like, yeah. And if you know, this happened. But that's not what the business does. Don't put that information in my head like I just need to knowhow it works for my business, like the most amazing things.
So, yeah, it's that's one thing that I'll take out of having the time to do that, because I never I never have time outside of that sort of lockdown. Yeah. So I want to ask you, because you are a business owner and you're also a performer.
So I can con I reckon I can relate to the energy and preparation that's required for the performance element. And it's so cool to hear that you've developed a real knack for getting better at the the business side.
I want to understand from you how critical is it to contributing to you being able to continue to evolve and get better and better as a performer, having feeling like you've got that business out under control. Yeah, it does does it does, because it also gives me an opportunity to and especially now because we've all struggled so much in this industry, it gives me an opportunity to get people more work as well and not just get me more work. So that's that's what I really like about it. And it helps. It has really helped me build really great relationships with other performers.
And it's helped me build really great relationships with the people who book me as well, because, you know, entertainers are not the most reliable people in the world. And so having that that was that was one of my main things when I went and started this business was I was going to be the different one in in the pack. And it was replying to the emails, having having the knowledge and just being so easy to work with that the next time something comes around, I'm going to be the go to because I'm not I'm not going to be the most talented person in H you know, in one of those industries that I work in, I'm not the most talented singer yet, very far from it. But I can get a booking over somebody who is far better than me because I'm so easy to work with. And and with those booking companies or corporates who don't work in events, and they've got to suddenly put on an event and they're scrambling and they're stressed.
If you can just be like you just glide on in and you're like, hey, here's everything you wanted. It makes a massive, massive difference. And then I recommend you to other people. And and yeah, if I walkout of a gig without a recommendation or not a card, I know I haven't done my job.
Excellent. So what's coming to mind here? And I'm not sure if you identify with this title, but some people think it's a bit wanky by entrepreneur or entrepreneurial. So I have to ask you, because what you described, there are a couple of concepts that appeared to be passed on often by a mentor to someone or a role model. I'm keen to understand when you had that turning point to really be that person you described and who some of those role models and mentors were that that you took on. It's hard to pick one.
They tell you what the biggest turning point for me was because I was very, very unreliable in my 20s, didn't work hard and didn't not work hard. But I just I just didn't know what I what I wanted to do. So, you know, you're dealing with gender, sexuality. Oh, lots of stuff. And I remember meeting and you will know these people as well.
Brandon’s, the when I started working a crowd and I met people who were at the height of their career, and I'm not saying that crown is the height of a career, but what I'm saying is those people, those dances and those performers, they were all at the top of their game.
They were getting the gigs in musicals. They were getting on the TV, you know, the Moulin Rouge dances leader dance, like all this kind of stuff. And I was like, these people have worked at the very top and I do work at the very top.
And I just sort of saw. You know that I was similar and I was like, well, I could probably work at the top as well, and then that sort of work ethic and and the belief that you can achieve the top really sort of helped me turn things around.
And and that's when I started singing and that's when I started my business and that kind of stuff. So, yeah, it's a massive, massive turning point. And then as you go, you meet more and more people that, you know, get let down and you got to pick yourself back up again.
And and you have really disappointing results sometimes. You know, you go out and you try and try something new and you're like, oh, I'm going to do this. And it doesn't work out or people don't want what you've got to sell.
And you got to you got to be able to just stuff that off and then go and try it again or change it a bit and try again. And yeah, it's it's that it's that sort of mindset and determination, knowing what I could do, but just being able to show people any way that I can.
Hmm. It sounds like, you know, what's on the other side of fear, which some may know is nothing. But could you indulge us and the audience who are listening and watching around one of these moments where you did give something a crack and maybe it didn't come off, but because of what you've developed in yourself now, you were quite able to just dusted off and and learn from it? Yeah, it was it was singing like it was just covers like I was never a singer or not. But I had this moment. So then in my early twenties where I was pretty depressed and I was struggling and I but I had this perfect job and I had the car, the house, the you know, everything looked like it was great. And I was so unhappy. And then someone said, well, what do you like? What do you actually want to do? And I was like, well.
And I really think about I want to be a singer and they're like, no, I like that, but like a like a real job. I was like, no, that's what I'm going to do. So the next day, I literally quit my job.
I sold my house and and went on a path of being a performer. And I sucked in the beginning. And I had auditions at Crown. I wanted to sing at Crown because that's where all these amazing people were that I worked with.
I could work my way up and I just wanted to get gigs and just sing. And and, you know, I was working at Crown as a stage manager as well. And I got an audition. And two of the entertainment people who were very good friends of mine came down to see me and this guitarist sing.
And we didn't get the gig like that, like we didn't get it. And I was like, wow. And then I felt bad for them. Imagine saying how hard I'm working and they're not giving me a gig. And so I just had to keep going, keep working.
And there's another company that I work for, somebody who just one of the most amazing companies I've ever worked for. And they they were the first ones to really take a risk. We've made emceeing their events. And my first event was the McDonald's.
So like a massive client. And it had to be the best. And and I was and I am saying I sang and we did this stuff and people were like, oh, my God, that you were the best I ever say.
What? How, what? Well, I went and I was like, oh, OK, cool. So finding my niche of what? All I have to offer is it's not really singing because I'm not the best singer in the world I get away with, but I'm not the best singer in the world.
But I'm I consider myself an entertainer. And that and that's such a hard thing to sell when you're when you're saying and you sing and, you know, you're kind of doing this sort of hybrid role and you're this and you're that, and why am I better than someone who sings like Beyonce?
I can hit all these high notes and that and it's and that is hard to sell to someone. It's it's the vibe. And you're like, I can't that's not something that they can hold and be like, oh, you know, this looks really good year.
So, yeah, it's it's a difficult thing to sell, but I'm getting there. Yeah. What comes to mind here hearing that is I'm a big fan of Robbie Williams. And, for example, for example, I, I rate him as probably one of the best entertainers.
But underlying that also is a pretty solid and talented ability at song writing. Yeah. Now, you you head up lead vocals and you write for Ladyhood Music, which you should definitely check out. And I think a little while back when we interacted at Krien, you may have recently returned from a song writing trip to Nashville, or maybe you'd spent some time. I think you did spend a lot of time abroad. Yeah. To me about your journey, then learning how to songwriter and apply that to your band and then bring it to life in a live environment. It's song writing is probably my favorite favorite part.
Even, I think, even more than performing them live. I love the songwriting because I love the collaborative process. I love working with really, really talented people. Always make sure I'm the least talented in the room. And so, you know, being able to go overseas and work in L.A. and Nashville, Vienna, and just with these incredible artists who, again, are all at the top of their game and they raise you even higher. And they they respect you. And we had like we working on these songs. I read a couple in Nashville and then I wrote most of them, you know, with with a whole bunch of people.
But just. It made me a really, really good songwriter, and now it comes so naturally when when we're trying to write a song and I do a lot of corporate songwriting experiences and that kind of stuff, and just working through that stuff and just now being able to sit in that talent and know that that's what I'm good at. It's really it's really, really nice. I can remember you telling me that you were lucky enough to say I think Sheryl Crow live in concert in Nashville. Yes. Yes. What was that like? Oh, it was it was off the chart.
It was off the charts. She came we went to see this other guitarist, and then she just got up and sang a couple of songs. And I was just like, oh, my God, she's definitely one of my band, Sheryl Crow.
And and that's the thing I love about L.A. and Nashville. I mean, those two places in particular, there's so much history there, you know, and I had like an interview, you know, I had a coffee with this lady, Judy Stagy, who's one of the great songwriter, and she worked with Sheryl Crow.
She was one of the ones who found Sheryl Crow and produced and got into where she is. And when I met her for coffee, she was like, it's so weird that you've said to meet at this place. This like at this exact table is where Sheryl Crow wrote Santa Monica Boulevard.
Right. And she was like that petrol station, that gas station over there. It used to be a car wash. And she was like, you know, this the how. And I was so and I filmed one of my video clips in Charlie Chaplin' sold apartment.
And like that kind of history, you just don't get over here. And it's just a vibe when you're in L.A. and you're surrounding yourself with those people and those places. It's just like electric. And it really does bring out the best in you.
Yeah, it definitely sounds like the innovation part of that environment plays a part in lifting your performance. It also sounds like I've heard this said before that it's treated like a business, which it should be. And someone like you no doubt has had that rub off because it appears you're applying so much of that in this smaller environment. I want to ask you, when we do return to some form of normal, how can an artist in Australia better adapt themselves to be able to compete and stand out at that level, knowing that they might not be able to enter into that environment physically as quickly or as easily?
Yeah, it's it's really difficult. I have worked with a few people over here and. That just isn't the. The the talent and the belief in Australia that Americans have that they believe that you can be the next huge fucking thing, you know, and then when you're in that writing session, that's what they're writing for.
Whereas some sessions that I've been over here, people don't believe in that they're not riding for you to be the next big thing, they're kind of getting through the session a little bit and trying to make the song as good as they can.
And so it's just it's a little bit of a weird. A weeder environment, that's why I always go and write in in the states. I think. I think the best thing that people can do, if you want a songwriter, is to write with as many people as possible.
And even if it's over there, even like, you know, I've done so many songwriting sessions over there, and to be able to be able to end up with these great songs and people people think it's like that. Most of songwriting is actually you sitting there thinking about what you're going to write and getting it together and that kind of stuff. And so. That's what that's easy to do. You know what I mean? And you have to make a couple of little changes here and there so that you can sing in time and be with the melody and that kind of stuff.
But to just throw a melody through zoom is pretty is is pretty easy to to a producer say, yeah, I'd get on the zoom, get out, get on the zoom. I think it was one person telling me of other day that when we record over Zoom, often you'll have to, in post-production, reverse the vision back about five frames, because I think human beings are used to getting the sound first, I think, and the visual can be light, but I assume prioritizes the visual first. So, Audie, I was. Yeah, I think that that's what's leading to a lot of people talking over each other.
And, you know, you go, but this is awesome. Now, I just want to flick back to what we talked about at the very head of the episode, because I want our audience to be able to walk away with at least one insight from this topic.
Now, through your journey, you've no doubt faced gender specific challenges, potentially. Maybe you've even witnessed others and you've kind of taken it upon yourself to get involved in help. I'd love to hear about maybe one in particular that you've been able to get a really cool outcome from and you feel like you've made a positive impact to getting it there quicker for others. Yeah. Yeah, it has it has been really challenging, especially because I'm masculine presenting. And so people people often think I'm a man, which is not the case. And for me, the biggest challenge is public toilets.
Yeah, because we're all a little bit vulnerable when we go into a public domain, not think about it consciously, but we are with what you know. It's yes. And I use women's public toilets unless there is a gender neutral bathroom.
Definitely not using the men's. They are hideous. Hang on. This is a hot topic because you know, what's you guys doing there? It's like, oh, you just shit in your hands and you throw it everywhere. You're like monkeys.
We've just we've just got the bite we were looking for to promote this. Oh, yeah, it's. Anyway, so, yeah, I use I use the toilet and and. Yeah, there is I would say ninety eight percent of the time they think there is a man in the toilets and that is really confronting for me.
And there's a lot of times that men have followed me into the women's toilets as well, because they're just like, oh, I just felt like that dude. And they don't bother looking at the the signs. And so I have been absolutely berated in public toilets.
It's like just I, I cannot believe people would speak to someone in public like that. So, yeah, that's that's quite, quite challenging. And I'm happy to talk to people about it. Not everyone is, because it it's it can be really, really draining, especially if you're still coming to terms with who you are and what your gender means to you and where you fit in. That can change gender. Gender is fluid. You know, one day you can be feeling a bit like this. The other day, feeling like some people switch pronouns. You know, they start off with Dayanim and then another day they might be feeling a bit more she her day, you know, which is then challenging to navigate also.
The one thing that I would say to people. We're talking just about pronouns and how to talk to someone, if you can just ask someone what their pronouns are and get into the habit of saying what your pronouns are, because we don't want to be the only people that I want to ask Dr. Brannon's, you know. So putting your he came on your Instagram handle or your email signature or something like that can make a huge difference and shows it shows that you're an ally without wearing a fucking rainbow flag to your team meetings, you know what I mean?
And just being able to ask someone when you get introduced, you know, they like my brand and my pronouns. Are he him? Do you mind if I ask what your pronouns. Hmm. Yeah. Then then when you hear them, use them.
Oh. And everyone everyone stops Adobe. You know, everyone like I shave myself and you can see how easy it is to do. And that's not the point. The point is your intention and your intention is to treat this person with respect and show that you are an ally and you want to make them comfortable in every situation.
That's great. If just because she or he someone does does not. It's not the end of the world. Yeah. And you just try not to make a huge deal out of it. And if you think it's had an effect, then you can just talk to that person after and just say really sorry about before.
When I use the wrong pronoun, I'm really trying. And I hope that you can say that. Yeah. And that's that's all it takes. It's not it's not this huge, big thing. And if you're trying to get into the habit of using someone's pronouns or what my my wife did to start getting used to it, it was she just used my name a little bit more. So instead of saying she should just go, you know, Brini did this, BRINI did that, you know, instead of they or, you know, just to just to like ease ease it off a little bit and navigate her own language of where she was going to fit into the bay and the names and the all that kind of stuff. Yeah. Excellent. That's awesome. Now, just want to ask cut this out. But we have like five more minutes so I can still grab that five with you after this. Like what?
Talking. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. All right. I'll check two more questions in so I know we're running out of your time very quickly, Bronnie, but I want to ask you, we've heard this statement said a lot. You can't be what you can't see.
Yeah. So if you were to flick back to BRINI at age 10, 12,15, who, if anyone, could you see that you felt like you could reference and relate to? And what advice would you give that age, Brawne?
I mean, there was literally no one. There was no one when I was growing up, when I was those kind of ages, was like, you know, the early90s into the mid to late 90s. And like being a lesbian was seen as.
No. There was there was Melissa Etheridge, k.d. lang and Buddy Ellen eventually. And it just like no, no, thanks. And I got teased a lot because people thought I was gay, you know, long before I did. And and yes, I was just nothing that I wanted to be.
There was no I wanted to look at it. And, you know, especially been anyone that had any kind of ambiguity about their gender. There was just no one like Preece. Maybe, maybe. But any anybody even remotely trans was always a, you know, a laughing stock or the the, you know, murdered on a TV show.
You know, that's like that's it. That's where trans people go and that, you know, so there really wasn't anything until I think I was sort of like early 20s. And the Elwood's a TV show came on and it was that Laffan lesbians and there was a character in there, Shane, who was just just the coolest cool ever.
And she would wear, you know, masculine clothes. And I was like that. That's me. That is me right there. And I remember buying my first men's shirt, and it was the most like horrifying experience ever. And then I got back to my friends, like, you know, men share guns and like the people in the shop just were mean to me. And I was this was like in Sydney on like, you know, like the mountains of the Mardi Gras area. And and yeah, I was still like. Is this your boyfriend? Absolutely not. Let me tell you that right now it's I love it.
That that you can't be what you can't say is huge, and I know it's said all the time now, but it is a hundred percent. True. And if I can be a role model for people, even even just being able to see someone that looks like me then is fine with their gender identity on Instagram.
You know, that's great. I've done my job. You don't need to be on every fucking pride committee in every business that do it. You know, it's just about just it's just about visibility. Sometimes at the end of the day, just being able to see it.
Yeah. So I got one last question for you. You've been amazing. Thank you. Thank you. For everyone watching and listening, we are going to do this in studio as soon as we can when we have our roundtable show, which I would love Brinded to be a part of.
What's your biggest fear or biggest fears? Oh, my biggest fear. I think it's probably that I will somehow end up going back to being that really unreliable, unmotivated person that I was because I have the capability to be that person and yes, I've grown like that was like we are all not the same as we were in the 20s. And yeah, so I'm just I'm really conscious of that kind of stuff. And sometimes I see it in the in the times where I am really busy and you manically busy. You've got like three gigs in one day.
You're packing all your outfits in the morning. You're making sure you're well fed this. You've got to give time to my wife, who pat the dog, you know, all of that. And you're like you just like you're running yourself up and you're like.
Well, OK, why am I why am I going like this at one hundred miles an hour? Maybe I shouldn't have booked the third gig now, you know? And I think we do that because, one, we don't know when the next gig is coming along.
But to yeah, I think I'm scared to be. I think I've got to keep pushing myself away from that person. He was quite sad, unsuccessful, you know, and and be this person and just keep going and going and going.
It's a good motivator. Yeah. Well, I appreciate you coming on our show. This is going to turn out awesome. How can people not just check you out, but how can they collaborate, participate and get involved in your journey?
Where can we. Where can we do that? Yeah, and the best place is just on Instagram. I'll share a lot of my my life and all the journeys that I'm on at the moment, especially my footing, sports broadcasting, career, and now my and my wife's obvious journey.
So you can go to Ladyhood Music, which is on Instagram now that Brini Dorson, thank you so much and can't wait to do it all again. Thanks, Brenda. Thanks for joining us for another episode of She Knpws, if you loved what you heard, then do us a favor and review and subscribe to us on all your favorite platforms to get in touch. Head to get torched, Dotcom, and see you on the next episode.