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BWW Interview: Aaron David Gleason of LESS OF ME - A New Single By Gleason and Lauren Marcus

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When Aaron met Lauren.

BWW Interview: Aaron David Gleason of LESS OF ME - A New Single By Gleason and Lauren Marcus

Two respected actor-singer-songwriters have joined forces to create a new song, an inspired project that was begun before the global health crisis sent New York City into quarantine, but that Aaron David Gleason and Lauren Marcus believed in so much that the project was completed during lockdown. LESS OF ME features lyrics by Ms. Marcus put to music by Mr. Gleason, and is now available on all major platforms

Says Mr. Gleason, "About a year ago I caught a Lauren Marcus show, and her raw, confessional style of performance just blew me away. I have a ton of respect for her as well as her talented husband, so I asked her if she'd like to collaborate on a song. She sent me a couple batches of lyrics and this one stood out. I took the lyric and set it to music, only providing a couple edits for scansion. Lauren has a Cabaret/Rock act that just kills. I wanted to make this piece fit in that genre--I initially wrote the song for her voice."

As happenstance would have it, Gleason had a recording session booked in Nashville, where he recorded basic tracks at Middletree Studios, a facility Gleason calls "incredible" alongside his longtime collaborator Brad Lindsay, who served as co-producer. To round out the team of musicians working on Less Of Me, Gleason enlisted bassist Nick Bearden and drummer Chris Benelli, and although Aaron David Gleason has worked in musical theater and cabaret, his primary focus is on rock and roll, so the resulting recordings were rich with the driving emotion and edgy sound for which the rocker is known.

Then the world stopped in motion and Less Of Me, right along with it. The project on was placed on hold as both the Marcus and Gleason families went into quarantine, but Marcus, fresh off her Broadway debut in BE MORE CHILL, and Gleason, an experienced recording artist who is constantly creating new online content, were not satisfied to simply let the circumstances in which they found themselves put a stop to their creation.

"Eventually," recalls Mr. Gleason, "We all figured that we had to keep on keepin' on somehow and we finished tracking...remote. Lauren sang these inspired harmonies (Arranged by Darnell White) and it became a fully fledged duet. To top things off we had Grammy Award winner Joe Chiccarelli mix it. Dan Millice Mastered the project. Sonics have always been a huge interest to me, as much as the composition or lyric. It's part of the escapism of Popular Music. Chiccarelli brings the sonic muscle, or accentuates the muscle we tried to apply. "

As the art form of cabaret continually changes, more and more artists are bringing a rock and roll sound to their shows, rather than the days of Cole Porter and Rodgers & Hart, and though Mr. Gleason has experience with standards and classics from the Great American Songbook, his vision as an artist is definitely more rock focused, making his work as songwriter and producer perfect for the nightclub stage and the recording studio.

"My goal is to keep writing for and in this marvelous community of Broadway, Broadway Adjacent, and NYC Cabaret artists. I never thought that as a Rocker from Los Angeles that I'd be embraced by this community, but frankly, now, it's been the best musical home I've ever lived in."

As the premiere of Less Of Me draws near, I reached out to Mr. Gleason for a digital chat, reproduced below.

Aaron David Gleason! Welcome to Broadway World Cabaret! How's the little 'un? All grown up yet?

The little guy is my whole life, thank you for asking. He definitely puts the world into sharp focus for me.

BWW Interview: Aaron David Gleason of LESS OF ME - A New Single By Gleason and Lauren MarcusLet's talk about LESS OF ME. What was it that compelled you to reach out to Lauren Marcus about collaborating on a song?

Seeing her show. She is so truthful. That doesn't mean autobiographical. But when she inhabits a character, whether it be herself or someone else, she tells THE TRUTH. That's what you always want to work with.

When you read the lyrics for Less Of Me, were you immediately attracted to them?

They were pretty evocative. And they detailed a failing relationship in a way I hadn't heard before. So, yes! Immediately.

Many composers of music have a lyricist with whom they work, exclusively; what is the appeal to building relationships with a few different lyricists?

Lauren is bolder, for instance. I'm working with another artist right now that keeps it very simple and direct. That's also not something I do. I needed to move out of my comfort zone of impressionistic lyrics.

In this case, did you spend any time with Lauren Marcus, or did you take her lyrics and provide her with a finished product?

I took the lyrics and went to town. She was graceful and supportive enough to let me.

Did you know from the onset that you wanted Lauren to sing on the recording with you, or was that a lovely surprise that sprung up?

Initially, I wrote it for her to sing, not me at all. But happenstance...happened, and here we are. Ya know, ya gotta stay limber as an artist or the project will just sit there. So, I had sung a scratch vocal that in the end became the final vocal, and I asked her if she wouldn't mind putting harmonies down and wow, she just put down amazing work--as always. I think we have a cool thing going here, in that I'm interpreting her lyric and she is now the Greek Chorus, commenting on my interpretation.

Put a picture in my head of the process of completing a product that is already in motion, while under quarantine.

It's maddening, tech issues galore, communication issues galore, but if you CAN do it, then there is a feeling that you're combating these really tough times--if only in a small way.

How do you think Less Of Me will integrate into the times in which we are living?

These are difficult times, and this is just a song--and not even a message/protest song. But, I'd like to think that someone could go for a walk (wearing a mask!) and maybe get lost in their headphones for 3 minutes. Escape, just for a moment.

Your background is in rock and roll, which can often be an art form focused on the rhythm, the instruments, and the sound; you are also a profound thinker, seeking the messages of life and the quests for growth. Is one of these aspects of your life and work ever more prevalent when you sit down to create or are they always in perfect harmony?

If the camera doesn't lie, then neither does the ear of the listener. They can tell if you're lying--in a snap. If I don't feel like I have something to say, I need to work with someone who does. This time I wasn't in perfect flow, and I needed someone from the outside to kick my butt and challenge me.

What do you think of rock and roll in cabaret?

The funny thing is that it's now very old hat. There's nothing really groundbreaking about it, it's been part of cabaret for 50 years. But I DO feel like there are more subgenres of rock 'n' roll making themselves known: Bedroom Psychedelia for example with artists like Billie Eillish. And these cabaret singers are cross-pollinating music like that with American Songbook more than ever.

You come from a show business dynasty. Does Daniel show any signs of a next generation of performers? Any father/son duets happening at home these days?

Boy oh boy would we love him to be a scientist, but no, he's already demanding green M&Ms in his rider, his own dressing room, and for me to not look at him during his solos.

Aaron, thank you so much for chatting with Broadway World Cabaret today. We are so honored to celebrate LESS OF ME with you and Lauren Marcus.

Honor is all mine. Thank you. Hope we can see each other SOON!

Less Of Me is now available on all major platforms

Photo of Aaron David Gleason is by Mark Liflander
Less of Me artwork is by Elizabeth Savanella

See LESS OF ME below


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