Brett McLaughlin Interview: ‘Boy Erased’ songwriter
“As three gay men coming from different parts of the world and having different experiences growing up, we each identified with this movie and with this song in different ways,” explains Brett McLaughlin about his original song “Revelation” from “Boy Erased.” Watch our exclusive video interview with McLaughlin above.
Based on a memoir by Garrard Conley, this Focus Features drama centers on Jared (Lucas Hedges), a young man sent to conversion therapy by his conservative religious parents (Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman). The film was written and directed by Joel Edgerton, who co-stars as the program’s dubiously qualified leader.
McLaughlin, also known by his stage name Leland, co-wrote “Revelation” with Troye Sivan, a recording artist in his own right who plays one of the camp’s unwilling participants, and Jon Thor Birgisson of the Icelandic band Sigur Ros. Thus far it has received a Golden Globe bid and made the motion picture academy’s official shortlist of 15 songs from which the final five Oscar nominees will be selected.
McLaughlin grew up in Mississippi, where he had “close ties to the plot line of the film. I felt like, lyrically, I was able to contribute something from someone who has lived in this environment, from someone who has grown up in this atmosphere.” Had he not waited until college to come out, he says, “I most likely would’ve had my own conversion therapy story.”
The song is heard at a moment in the film when Jared experiences his first consensual sexual experience with another man and “realizes that God isn’t going to strike him down.” McLaughlin, Sivan, and Birgisson aimed to “write something that helped elevate that moment” without “taking away from the scene.” They “wanted to find the balance of a religious-themed lyric” and something more “conversational.”
This year McLaughlin also penned the score and 11 original songs for the Netflix film “Sierra Burgess is a Loser” alongside Bram Inscore. And he wrote tunes for season nine of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”