"In The Spotlight" - Brett Gleason

Lukas Clark-Memler

Lukas likes to write about music. He is vaguely respected as a critic. His musings have found their way into a wide range of international magazines and a variety of credible websites. He is music editor here at Get Frank, and hates having an empty inbox, so drop him a line with any questions or comments at lukas@getfrank.co.nz

Between the drivel of mainstream radio, and the pretension of MySpace fanatics, lie a number of excellent musicians waiting to be discovered by a larger audience. With "In The Spotlight" Get Frank delves into the independent music world to introduce to you a selection of bands that deserve recognition. These acts are little-known, yet extremely talented - and are now thrust out of the dark and put "In The Spotlight."

Introducing... Brett Gleason


Brett (26) has been playing music his whole life. Actively recording for the last 5 years.


Mr. Gleason performed and recorded all the instruments on The Dissonance solo. He plays piano, guitar, bass, drums and synths. When playing live, Grammy nominated drummer, Elliot Humberto Kavee, and vocalist, Jana Fisher, accompany him.Live | 7-8-09 Fontana's, NYC | Brett Gleason


Brooklyn, New York


The Dissonance - (2010)


Avant-garde experimentalism/post post-rock/industrial electronica


The Velvet Underground, Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins




Brett got involved with music at an early age after a childhood accident left him with a severe speech impediment. This led to a life of solitary contemplation packed with music lessons and literature, earning him not only an arsenal of instruments at his command but a truly original and developed perspective on the world. After finishing his studies in music, writing and philosophy at the New School University in Manhattan, Brett dove into the recording process with a certain youthful abandon. Now at the age of 26, Brett has completed his first record, and written, played and recorded everything on it.

Brett Gleason is unlike anything you have ever heard. Gleason is an extremely talented musician who is not afraid to take risks and explore lesser-known areas of musical idioms - rather than sticking to conventional formulas. Gleason is the kind of revolutionary that is so far ahead of his time, and so different to anything around, that he may perhaps only be fully appreciated in the future, when he is recognized for pushing the boundaries of music further than anyone before him. The Dissonance conjures a vision of Andy Warhol's musical cabal, and I could also see Gleason and Tom Waits complementing each other excellently in concert. Gleason's music has a strong sense of theatricality and would be prime soundtrack material. As with any foray into experimentalism, the end result is neither melodic nor easily consumable. Yet with diligence, an open mind and an understanding for music, one can realize Gleason's subtle production and unique instrumentation. The Dissonance is a distinct listen that will challenge and extend the very limits of your musical consciousness.  

Standout tracks:

"I Am Not"
"Idealize the Dead"

Q: Please state your name(s) for the record.

A:  Brett Gleason

Q: How do you tackle the songwriting process?

A:  I write at the piano and do the lyrics, melody and music at the same time.  I tend to save the full arrangements until I either record the song or perform it with my band.  Most of The Dissonance was written and recorded at the same time which helped lead to some more progressive arrangements. Digital production is a great way to experiment with compositions because you can simply cut, paste and move sections around.  On certain songs like, "Imposter" and "Idealize the Dead" I tried to make this kind of editing more obvious, as opposed to hiding the seams, I tried to exploit them, inserting the process into the product.

Q: Who do you consider to be your musical heroes and/or greatest influences?

A:  Billy Corgan, Trent Reznor and Tori Amos: I turned onto them very early and still go back on a regular basis. Billy Corgan and The Smashing Pumpkins gave me a sense of drama through drastic dynamic/tempo changes as well as helped me develop an ear for mixing acoustics and electronics. Trent Reznor and NIN turned me onto more industrial production and showed me how to incorporate sampled drums into a more 'rock' oriented atmosphere.  On the other hand, Tori Amos helped me balance my sound with a sense of vulnerability and openness that a lot of the more aggressive rock music I listen to lacks. 

Q: 5 favourite albums of all time?

A: 1.  The Smashing Pumpkins - Adore/img/placeholder.gif?aHR0cDovL2M0LmFjLWltYWdlcy5teXNwYWNlY2RuLmNvbS9pbWFnZXMwMS8zMy9sXzRmOTVhNWI1OGRkZjdkN2I5ZTI0Y2Q5MzM3YzQ4ODkzLmpwZw==

    2.  Tori Amos - From the Choirgirl Hotel

    3.  The Cure - Disintegration

    4.  Kate Bush - The Dreaming

    5.  Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun

Q: Best gig you've ever attended?

A:  Sigur Ros at Radio City, NYC.  Their albums are amazing but the live shows are so intense.

Q: Most overrated artist of today?

A:  Though it's not their fault, MGMT has been largely overhyped in my opinion, they write great hooks but I don't think their overall songwriting is terribly sophisticated.  

Q: If you could change places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional. Who would it be and why?

A:  I wouldn't want anybody else's life but I'd love to inhabit someone's mind to see how they think.  We never get to experience a different perspective and thought process so there's no context for our own. If the 'average' person exists, I'd like a sample of their inner monologue.  

Q: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see play the lead role as you?

A:  I'm fairly pop-culture inept so these names had to come from friends: James Franco, the 'Dexter' guy (Michael C. Hall), Jacob from 'Lost' (Mark Pellegrino) Ethan Hawke and Jake Gyllenhaal though knowing me and my DIY attitude, I'd probably insist on doing it myself, for better or worse. 

Q: If you weren't a musician, what would you be doing with your life?

A:  I'd be a fiction writer.  That's my other passion and I'd love to return to it in the future if possible.  I'm also a big political junkie so a journalist's life could be pretty excellent as well, especially a traveling one.  

Q: What is your idea of a good time on a Friday night?

A:  Honestly, staying home.  I'm very domestic and appreciate silence and solitude more than most.

Q: If you could share the stage with anyone, who would it be and why?

A:  Tori Amos. Not sure if our music would mesh but I just think she's an incredible woman.  No matter how long she's on top she remains engaging, gracious and grateful to her fans. Amanda Palmer is another one, the direct contact she has with her audience is incredible, her shows are a conversation and you can feel it the energy and pace of her performances.

Q: If you could play anywhere in the world, venue wise, where would you play?

A:   Radio City Music Hall in NYC.  Aside from the sound being incredible, it's an inspiring and classy place.  I don't aim to play typical rock venues: operatic halls, symphonic spaces and theaters tend to handle my dynamics better as opposed to the typical rock halls that blow it up as loud and compressed as possible.  I'm trying for something subtler.

Q: What would you like inscribed on your gravestone?

A:  Held High Standards

Q: Musical goals as a band? Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?

A:  I want to further explore the relationship between acoustic and electronic music.  I feel I've created a very unique sound and whereas I have broad influences and hope to branch out in the future, I want to continue to explore and perfect what I've created with The Dissonance. It's important to me that I solidify my brand before mixing it up.

Q: Anyone you want to thank?

A:  It seems obvious but I want to thank my parents. Aspiring to be a songwriter/performer is a difficult thing to embrace but when I found the courage to declare my intentions, they were nothing but supportive. The Dissonance has been years in the making and my parents have helped me stay on my feet throughout the process, financially and emotionally.

Q: Any final words before you go?

A:  My songs are dense, a lot happens quickly so engage yourself, read the lyrics and follow along. Take advantage of the free MP3 offer for "I Am Not" on my website: give it a few listens and let it reveal itself to you.  Like most great things, what you give is what you get and my music demands your full attention.


Music video for "I Am Not" from Brett Gleason's The Dissonance

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  • Johnny says
    Wow - what excellent music. I must admit I had never heard of Mr. Gleason, but now I plan on purchasing The Dissonance as soon as I can. It is one of the most unique sounds I have ever heard. Thanks!

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