Brett Gleason: Strong and, Thankfully, not so Silent

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The one thing I have always loved about NYC is the music scene. As a matter of fact, the reason I started blogging about ten years ago was to highlight musicians I met around the city. Brett Gleason happens to be one of the first people I interviewed. Since then he’s become a great friend and I’ve seen him perform numerous times over the years.
The thing I’ve always loved about Brett is that his music is truly an extension of who he is. When I first heard him, it was very unique to me because I was going through a mostly pop and R&B phase. His lyrics were and are like poetry, but not the everyday kind, they remind me of deep literature class poems.
Besides being a wonderful musician, Brett is also a very vocal advocate for the LGBTQ community (He’s written for HuffPost) and he advocates for mental health. As you’ll read, it is very inspiring that a boy who was mostly shy as a child because of a speech impediment became such an advocate and performer.
Getting a chance to interview Brett is always a treat and a pleasure. He’s got so much going on, like adding a band to his performances, changing up his sound a little, AND this amazing Patreon community he is building (if you aren’t part of it yet, you will want to join to keep up with him). I invite you to join our conversation to learn more about him, make sure you follow him on social media, and reach out to say HI to him (and to me too). Check out his videos for Expiration Date and Alive at the end.
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Q: For those who don’t know all about you, tell us a little about Brett Gleason’s beginnings and Brett growing up. Was music always a part of your life?
Brett Gleason: Hey Tommy, thanks for asking.  I’ve always played music but the role it played in my life has varied – as a kid, piano lessons started as just one of my many activities, my main one being gymnastics.  As I grew into my teens I was a seriously competitive gymnast but as I developed emotionally and dealt with injuries, I took to music more personally and started listening to Tori Amos and the Smashing Pumpkins and realized music was something really important to me and was going to be my life’s path and I started writing songs.
Q: I’ve known you for a long time and I’ve always said your lyrics are very intellectual, kind of like musical literature. Will we ever hear a pop song from Brett?
Brett Gleason: To be honest, I think that my music isn’t too far from pop, especially my new songs, which I guess are still to be heard by most.  My sounds are more rock, or even folk sometimes but my structures are getting more simple as I’m trying really hard to get my message across. I  used to write more complex songs but I think I was just hiding, or even showing off.  I’m using more simple song structures now which is kind of what pop is.  It’s not obvious mainstream but it’s simple & heartfelt.
Q: How many instruments do you play? And did they all come naturally to you?
Brett Gleason: The piano is my main instrument but I’m also a fairly accomplished guitar player, a proficient bassist, and an intermediate ukulele player.  NONE of them came naturally to me, it was all work.  Most people think musicians were just born with ‘talent’ and it may be easier for some but it’s been a long journey, I’ve been playing for 25 years and I still have a lot of limitations but our limitations are what we work around and that’s how ‘style’ is born.
Q: The definition of Indie Artists has become a bit misunderstood by many. What does it mean to you to be an Indie Artist?
Brett Gleason: The phrase ‘indie’ has been co-opted by corporations to mean ‘rock’ music these days so now I say DIY. If you’re on a label, have funding, you’re not ‘indie’.  I know there are ‘indie’ labels but some of them are pretty damn big.  I’m DIY.  I do it myself with the support of my fans.  They support me financially and emotionally and I make the decisions that I think are best for the music & them.  It’s a really slow process but I’m thinking big picture.  A label could help me blow up fast but they’d own everything and could quickly abandon me if things go wrong, take all my music and leave me with all the debt.
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Q: You recently added a band to the Brett Gleason experience. How did this come about?
Brett Gleason: My recordings have always had a ‘band’ but as a multi-instrumentalist, I played most of the instruments which has been tricky to pull off live.  I don’t play drums so I’ve always had a great relationship with my drummer and often play live together but it hasn’t been financially feasible to consistently hire a full band. However, I’m stepping things up this year and now that I have some consistent support through my Patreon and new music that really calls for a special sound, I think it’s finally worth it.
Q: You have said that you had a solitary childhood because of a speech impediment. How did you overcome that and what/who helped you to get through/past it?
Brett Gleason: Kids are amazingly resilient and I was so young that I just rolled with it.  My parents were smart and kept me busy, they put me in gymnastics, music lessons, lots of individual things that I could do alone to build up my confidence.  I had speech therapy, worked on creative writing – it definitely affected me socially but that’s where art comes in.
Q: You have been so open about your own struggles and mental health. What advice can you offer to those who are struggling and especially to those struggling in silence?
Brett Gleason: Open up to someone.  And if they don’t listen, open up to someone else.  The sooner the better.  I waited way too long until I was in crisis because I didn’t think it was serious enough but it usually doesn’t get better until it gets worse and there are so many resources out there but you can’t access them alone, especially as a kid.  I needed help when I was 13 but I didn’t get it until I was 19 and then I had to drop out of college and get hospitalized but still, at least I did that then.
Q: There’s new music coming! Tell us a bit about it. Will these songs reflect the changes like the band and the work you’ve been doing on you?
Brett Gleason: Thanks for asking! I have a new single coming out on June 7th called, ‘The Strong & The Silent’ that will kick off a new sound for me.  It’s about a proud man who uses his strength as a shield against vulnerability…
Q: What’s one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?
Brett Gleason: I really can’t live without coffee but I wish I could.  This sounds very idealistic but I wish the world could live without borders dividing and defining us.
Q: You’ve also been vocal and open about your sexuality. What does it mean to be an out artist, especially in today’s climate?
Brett Gleason: I really don’t know anymore…I’m very open about being gay and bipolar as I like to be transparent and give my music context but I don’t call myself an out artist anymore because my music doesn’t really vibe with the ‘gay music community’ very much and as a cis-white gay man, music mags that focus on queer content aren’t interested in posting about what I do so its kind of pointless to promote myself as such.  I just like sharing who I am, looking for nothing in return other than connecting with other people.
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Q: What would you tell your younger self about being gay and what would you say to the young people who are having a hard time that is being made worse by all of the political stress going on now?
Brett Gleason: I would say to my younger self that being gay is like the 3rd or 4th thing that defines you.  I spent much of my 20’s trying to find where in the gay scene I fit in and it tortured me because I never felt like I belonged.  Now I spend my time in the music community specifically and meet lots of cool gay musicians and non-gay musicians who really don’t care whether I’m gay or not.
To young people stressed out by the political times happening now, I really don’t know what to say other than to tell them they really need to educate themselves on the last 5 decades of gay struggles to see the overall arc of progress and to see that people have been fighting hard for their rights and that there is always a push and pull.  There will be more progress, things have been worse and things will be better.  But you need to educate yourself, be grateful for those who came before you and advocate for your future.
Q: You have been using Patreon to connect with your fans. What has that been like and what can people expect when they join you there?
Brett Gleason: Patreon is the future of music.  It’s a fan club for artists to connect with their fans.  It’s a semi-private site/app where I post all my work in progress and more personal, substantive blogs that I wouldn’t put publicly online.  In return, my fans choose a monthly amount to support me with, anywhere from $1 to $100/month.  This has changed my life – allowed to consistently create new music, explore new sounds, work in a proper studio and hire a band, mostly from small donations.  It has also helped me connect with people who really care about my work as opposed to people who just click ‘like’ on my photos but never listen to or support my work.  It’s deeply changed how I view myself as an artist in the most profound ways.  I highly recommend checking it out, there’s no contract or anything.
Q: Where else can people find you and your music online?
Brett Gleason: Google me! I use social media a lot and would be grateful if you’d follow my Spotify for when my new music comes out.
Here is my SpotifyInstagramTwitterFaceBook & of course my Patreon!
Q: What’s up next for Brett Gleason?
Brett Gleason: The ‘The Strong & The Silent’ comes out on June 7th, I’m doing a release show in NYC on June 20th at Berlin and then a Northeast tour in August.  I’ll be following that up with another single in the Fall then a new album in 2020.  Hit me up, shoot me an email. Say hi! Thanks Tommy, love you!

Get to know Conscious and become part of the Team

31723287_1728518517193683_1885466195990151168_nI recently came across the music of Conscious (Brett Prusinski) on Twitter and then did a little reading up on him. Brett is known for his viral presence online with videos that have accumulated an increasing following and that inspired a movement referred to as #TeamConscious. With his music, Conscious brings melodic, sensual vibes packed with witty, emotional and memorable lyrical verses that matches over unique and funky production. Along with a pure flow Conscious provides the listener with a voice that is said to be “powerful and made to move crowds”.

Conscious is more than a musician, he is also involved in every end of the production including writing all of his own lyrics, directing and editing all videography & photography. Conscious has quickly made his footprint in his hometown of Buffalo, New York and has created a great presence online that I am sure will quickly translate into an incredible career.

Q: Tell us a little about your new song, ‘Lies’. What is it about, what does it mean to you, and what inspired you to write it?

Conscious: “LIES” is my first musical release of 2019 and one of my deepest, real-est songs I’ve ever made. This song means a lot to me as the song follows my pain and heartbreak as I talk about a long-term relationship that was toxic and filled with lies, lust and sex. The song was inspired my a past relationship of mine that really changed my perspective on love & relationships.

Q: You have said that you wanted to be an entertainer from a very young age. What are some of your first memories of acting upon that desire to entertain?

Conscious: Sheesh the good old days. So I’ve always had a knack & passion for entertaining. As a young kid I idolized movie stars and musicians. I’ve always had this deep passion for creating. When i first laid my hands on a camera I knew it was magical. Soon after, My mom had purchased me one when was just a little kid. When something inspires me, I become obsessed with it and really soak it up. When i was twelve years old I launched my first Youtube account & within one year of creating videos I landed Youtube partnership (which back then was a BIG deal!). I remember when I first became a partner with Youtube and started earning money online, my mother thought I was scamming people online or something! She didn’t believe it until we started getting mail from Google in our mailbox. I recall always making all types of videos online, some my dad even participated in and helped me make. It grew from there and I never looked back.

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Q: Where can people find you and your music online?

Conscious: I’m everywhere! Not only that I’m very engaged with my following. You support me, I support you! Just how I am.

You can find me on Youtube, Facebook , Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat. My music is available on all major music platforms including Itunes/Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, etc.

Q: What’s one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

Conscious: I’m assuming this is asked in a just for fun manner, so no obvious things like oxygen, etc. Haha. So as sad as it sounds, I’d probably say the internet. They used to say money makes the world go round, but now a-days I think the internet is what makes the world go round. The internet in my opinion is the single handily most powerful tool if used correctly.

Q: Who are some of your inspirations in music and entertainment?

Conscious: I am inspired by artist of all kinds, music of all genres. I can draw inspiration from even everyday life. So it’s hard to answer this. I’m mainly inspired by myself and the last thing I made as I’m always trying to be better than I was yesterday.

Q: What artists would you like to work with in the future?

Conscious: I’m very interested in working with other talented up & coming artist from across the world who are passionate about the art and have a story to tell.

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Q: With social media, artists have a chance to be seen and interact with fans more regularly. How do you find time to balance that with working on your music and projects?

Conscious: It’s very hard. You have to really find a balance. Some spend too much time in the studio and not enough time building an audience or following. On the other hand, some spend too much time online promoting the music and not enough time working on their craft. I struggle with this myself time to time. I think it comes down to prioritizing and time management. I think as artist we tend to think we need to respond and be active 24/7 with our following we forget they are going to understand we are human and at times it’s just not possible to respond and get back to everyone as your audience grows. I personally allow myself a time block to get on social media, so that way I can dedicate and give my full attention to my audience.  While during other parts of my day be able to give my full attention to other affairs.

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Q: Social media can be a great help but there are still lots of challenges artists face when navigating the music business and entertainment industry. What do you think are some of the greatest difficulties creative types are dealing with now?

Conscious: I think for me, the most difficult thing is getting the funding needed to truly take this movement to the next level. Things like setting up tours, merch and high budget advertising all take money. For me everything is stepping-stones, one day & one song at a time. With each song I see my audience grow significantly and I believe if I stay true to the art and make quality content and put my all into this, things will come together.

Q: What’s up next for Conscious?

Conscious: 2019 IS A BIG YEAR FOR #TeamConscious!! I will be dropping a boatload of singles leading up the release of my 4th and best project to date, Path To Redemption. Which follows my journey from heartbreak to reclaiming independence and turning the negativity into success. I also have several high-profile music videos dropping as well some giveaways to show my appreciation to #TeamConscious and all the love & support I’ve been shown.

He is the official video for ‘Lies’ be sure to subscribe to Conscious on YouTube and like and share:

 

Jordyn Pollack is a man who is all about the love with no time for hate

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I enjoyed my interview with Ryan Santanna so much (I hope you all did as well and that you learned a little something from it) that I decided to reach out to a friend of mine I have known through Instagram. Jordyn Pollack has shared his journey as a Trans man on the social media platform and on YouTube, much like Ryan has. Their stories are similar but I feel (and I’m sure you agree) that we need to hear all the stories because each of us, no matter how similar we are, are so unique. There is always more to learn from each other, more to experience through each other’s eyes, and more bridges to build.

I really love how brave Jordyn has been by sharing his top surgery photos, progress, his experience with testosterone, and most importantly his feelings throughout. I know he is helping so many others, he is inspiring me, and he is allowing people in similar circumstances to know they will be OK!

The power of social media has always been in the sharing, in being a voice for individuals who don’t feel they have one, and in showing them there are others who are experiencing the same things we are even if we feel alone.

Jordyn is someone you need to follow, someone you need to know, and I believe someone who is making the world a better place. Let me introduce you to Jordyn Pollack:

Q: When did you first realize you didn’t identify with the gender you were when you were born?

Jordyn Pollack: This is a difficult question because I truly believe since I was a young child I knew deep down I wasn’t comfortable with being categorized as a “female”. I truly have realized now that all of my actions back then relate 100% to me taking the step and transitioning. When I was a child I would dress all my “female” dolls as “males”, I would cut their hair, dress them in more masculine clothes. I also remember lying in my bed some nights and just wishing I could be a “boy” for one day, which is crazy to think now that my wish came true about 17 years later. Growing up I always played sports and tried to hang out with all the “boys”, even going into middle school I was very into skateboarding. I dressed in “boy” clothes, when I wasn’t at school, at the skatepark, or even hanging out with some of my friends. One year for Halloween, I believe I was 12, I dressed as a “boy” and went into the guys restroom at Disney Halloween, that is one of my favorite childhood memories, not going into the restroom of course, but having that feeling of passing as a “male”.

Q: What age did you start to become vocal about it? What was the reaction from your family and friends?

JP: I came out to my parents and partner about two years ago, I was 24. Then I came out to some of my close family members, and then I made a Facebook post. Everybody reacted as I expected, luckily I am blessed with a huge immediate and extended family that excepted my transition with open arms. From my Uncles, Cousins and Grandparents they all use the correct pronouns and still love me just as much or even more now. The person I am now is much more confident, outgoing and just loving to be around. My family is my everything. My fiancé told me she would always love me as long as the person I am inside never changes, which how could it, because that is who she fell in love with and wants to marry. Ziggy has never cared about gender, she just wants me to be happy and true to myself. I will always be Jordyn, that is my birth name and I chose to keep it my name. That is who I will always be and was, It just took me this long to get here.

Q: Did anyone surprise you in a positive or negative way as you became more open about it all? 

JP: The people or should I say children who surprise me most are my cousins. I have a very big family as I said above, I would say about 10 cousins on my Moms side and even more on my Dads. From the ages of newborn to my age, they have all been amazing. Validating me every chance they get, reaching out after my surgery. I truly couldn’t feel more love and support.

Q: I’ve seen you posting about your journey on Instagram and it has inspired me so. Does that help you during this process?

JP: Instagram has been an amazing outlet for me during my transition and even before. Social media really helped me come out and realize that transitioning was what I truly wanted to do. Being able to see other people’s journeys, helped me a lot. That is why I post so frequently and try to connect with all of my followers. I truly think being a part of a community and knowing we can have each-others back when nobody else understands means so much.

Q: What are some misconceptions you would like to clear up about trans people?

JP: Honestly, the only thing I would like to clear up is that we are no different from any other human being. We are all equal, but different in so many ways and that is what makes the world truly a beautiful, magical place.

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Q: Other than Instagram, where can we find you online? Have you documented your journey elsewhere? 

JP: I have a YouTube account, it is just under my name Jordyn Pollack. I will say, I have not made any update videos recently, but I will make one soon on my Top Surgery experience.

Q: Do others reach out to you and what advice do you/would you give them if they were struggling with their own identities?

JP: Yes, others reach out to me daily through social media. Whether it be to tell me I inspired them, to ask for advice, or just to say hi. I like to connect with my followers as much as possible, as I said before to me having a safe community is so important. I would tell someone struggling with their identity, to for one second try not to worry about anything else in the world besides themselves and in that moment how do they want to look when they see themselves. How do they want to feel? How do they want to be treated? If you are struggling just give yourself time to find who you truly are. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, YOU are the only person that knows how YOU feel inside and out.

Q: What is one thing you absolutely cannot live without and one thing you wish we could all live without?

JP: The one thing I could not live without is Ziggy. She is truly my everything. I have never met a human being who is so kind-hearted. Ziggy makes me feel special every day. Yes, we have had our struggles, but who doesn’t. The best part about her is that we can communicate and at the end of the day we have each other no matter what. She is the first thing I see when I open my eyes and the last thing I see before I close them. I am more than excited to spend the rest of my life with her and marry her, that way I will never have to live without her.

The one thing I wish we could all live without is HATE. It is as simple as that. If all humans had more love, compassion and understanding in their hearts we would have a better world.