Brett Gleason is a highly skilled piano/keyboard player who also plays a variety of instruments, writer, and vocalist who proves that music can be deeply embedded into a person’s makeup. When you listen to his lyrics, I have often said they remind me of great literature combined with rock/pop music that creates an intellectual experience. His fans tend to be people who enjoy all sorts of genres of music and seeing him play live is always a treat.
Brett has always been open about his own struggles growing up, being bullied for being gay, being shy, as well as his bipolar disorder. I’m sure this has helped his fans as well while making even more endearing to them. When Brett first began talking about all of this, it was a time where many were still being secretive or made to feel like they shouldn’t be sharing so much. In that way, he can add pioneer to his resume for sure.
Get to know Brett Gleason a little or a little more here, you are sure to find something comforting, familiar, and inspiring about him, his music, and his take on life. Then, take a moment to enjoy his video for ‘Second Guess’ and go check out his Patreon and social media for even more!
Q: I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the evolution of Brett Gleason. For those who haven’t been aware of you for as long, can you explain how you started out and when you remember first being interested in music?
Brett Gleason: So nice to have a sustained connection! That’s really what making music is about, sharing and growing together. I started playing the piano when I was a kid and started songwriting when I was 13. That was when I started dealing with bipolar disorder and realizing I was gay. I felt really overwhelmed and alone so music was the greatest outlet for me.
Q: Also, for those who haven’t been familiar with you since the beginning, can you explain how you think you have evolved and changed over the years (especially in recent years).
Brett Gleason: I started making complicated music with really abstract lyrics. It felt really personal to me but left a lot to interpretation. The sounds were harsh, off putting and though the piano and my voice were still the centre of the songs, they were hidden. I was scared and if you listened closely enough, I was punishing and hiding myself.
I’ve worked really hard recently to be more vulnerable – to step forward and make my music more accessible, to speak plainly and directly about my story not just in my music but by telling my story in a straightforward fashion.
At the same time, I’ve worked hard on building myself up instead of beating myself up and I’m trying to enact this mission in real-time with my listeners.
Q: Being an indie musician, how does the business differ from how it was when you began?
Brett Gleason: Everything changes really fast but the one thing that hasn’t changed is it’s really hard. I came of age in the late 90’s right at the peak of alternative rock as a commercially viable genre in an industry at its peak so I started off having to face the hard truths of an industry reeling from the mp3 and Napster. Now we are dealing with streaming. It took a few years but I’ve accepted that most record labels haven’t adjusted and likely never will so being an indie artist is the best option for those willing to work hard not just on the music, but on their business for the long haul.
There are more challenges but also more tools than ever: I don’t complain that folks stream my music practically for free on Spotify, I’m excited they can discover me so easily and then I can and engage them personally to support me by joining my Patreon or buying my merch. There are ways I can directly connect with my audience that didn’t exist 10 or 20 years ago and making music is all about connecting.
Q: You’ve been very vocal about your own struggles. Why is it so important for you to be so open with your fans about that? What has the feedback been so far?
Brett Gleason: As I said, music is all about connecting but music can be vague. We all interpret lyrics to mean what we want, which is the beauty of it. Some musicians like to leave the music to speak for itself but as I also just said, we have so many tools to connect more deeply now and I want to take advantage of them.
I’m at a place in my life where I can speak openly about my struggles with bipolar disorder, about being gay and even just about chasing a difficult dream and I want to take advantage of that. It would have meant so much to me to hear someone speak about this stuff when I was a kid.
The feedback online is beautiful – most commend my bravery and privately write to me of their own struggles. Outside of the internet it’s not always the same but I grew up being rejected for this enough and I can handle it, it’s honestly much easier now and the support I get online gives me strength.
Q: If you could change a few things about the way the music scene is now, what would you do to improve it?
Brett Gleason: To be honest, I feel pretty disconnected from the scene. The music I make is not very trendy so it’s really up to me to make my own scene and this year, I’ve pledged to myself to focus more on connecting directly with listeners and less on trying to win over the ‘gatekeepers’ of the scene.
I will say two things: there are more artists being listened to now than ever because there is no MTV, popular radio and major labels have less influence.
And in terms of local scenes, here in NYC, it’s rough because there are touring artists coming through with labels pouring in money to prop up out of town artists that it’s not a level playing field. There’s a lot of amazing locals but it’s really oversaturated so you have to break up into mini-scenes and it can take a really long time to find yours, and then break out of it.
Q: Do you remember what it was like to put out your first single and album?
Brett Gleason: Yes I do! It was an invaluably, awful experience that took a long time to get over. I actually released a full EP with a video dropping the month before and I took out a loan to finance it all, naively thinking I would make the money back.
I also recorded the entire project and mixed it all at home myself, which, however, impressive that is, wasn’t up to a proper commercial standard to go into debt over.
The project got extremely mixed reviews and I took it all very personally – though some of it went really well and ended up launching the fan base that has allowed me to keep making music to this day, I did take those songs down and re-record most of them as part of my first album.
Q: What advice would you give your younger self if you could go back in time?
Brett Gleason: GO TO THERAPY. I honestly think just about everyone should go to therapy but I was so stupidly cavalier for so many years and just took medication and worked myself to the bone without ever looking inward.
Q: Describe yourself in three hashtags.
Brett Gleason: #GrowthMindset #alternative #scruffy
Q: Who are some of your dream collaborations?
Brett Gleason: Amanda Palmer – She is a such an inspiration, I can sit on songs and second guess them for months to years whereas she is able to create in a flash using any materials she finds. I think it would be such a great learning experience to see how she works and such a blast.
Q: Tell us a little about your latest single, ‘Second Guess’?
Brett Gleason: I started writing ‘Second Guess’ ten years ago after a bad night out filled with self-doubt & social anxiety but after an upbeat chorus the song didn’t go anywhere because I wasn’t ready to do the hard work of understanding why I look outside myself for approval instead of within.
Only recently was I ready to return with perspective and finish this to make it a powerful anthem to intuition, instinct and integrity
Q: Since this is for ‘Addicted Magazine’, can you tell us a few things you are addicted to? (Favorite foods, tv, film, actors, music, items, etc)?
Brett Gleason: My greatest addiction is coffee. It’s emotional and physical at this point in my life.
Q: Where can we find you online?
Brett Gleason: My music is in all the places you’d expect and I’m on most social media though I do tweet more than most musicians. I’ve also started a new podcast called ‘Moody & Gay’ so that is in the podcast places too. I’ve been working hard to flesh out my website and work hard to keep consistent content for all sites, most of all my Patreon where I share all my music downloads and progress updates + live streams for a small monthly subscription.
Q: What’s up next for Brett Gleason?
Brett Gleason: I was working on a music video for ‘Second Guess’ and mixing the next single but those have been delayed because of COVID19 so I’m currently fleshing out the production of the other tracks for my third album and if possible, recording a solo acoustic track to release ASAP.
‘Second Guess’ Video: