Growing up on a cattle ranch in rural Flat Lake, Alberta Canada, our very first New Artist Feature, Brett Kissel learned a lot about country living. It all started when Kissel was merely seven years old, receiving his first guitar from his grandmother for Christmas. During our interview, Kissel explained the gift of that guitar was similar to the first time a child gets a football or a hockey stick then goes on to play professionally, that was the moment for him when he realized his dreams. “As a little kid, I didn’t know it was a career path, all I knew I wanted to do was play guitar and sing,” he explained, “It didn’t take long for me to really gravitate towards the true entertainers and the live show performers, that was my biggest passion.”
He lets us know about his influences growing up, listening to Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, and George Jones, but explains that everything changed for him when he saw Brooks and Dunn perform live. Then he saw a DVD of Garth Brooks and that sealed the deal. “A lot of people who you might talk to will tell you they found a love for songwriting or the studio, for me it was a love for the stage.”
Fast forward twenty years, Kissel is the only Canadian to tour with Garth Brooks, acting as his opener for over twenty concerts on his world tour. He recalls the first night on the tour, being nervous to take the stage when “Garth knocks on the door and says “We are actually going to push back the show a little bit, I know you are supposed to play at 7:30 but we don’t have a full crowd yet so we are going to put you on at 8:00 and give them an extra 30 minutes of anticipation and make sure you have the full 19k people.” The reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year is an inspiration to the rising star to work as hard as he can to achieve his dreams of being an artist in the country music genre.
Already on his way, Kissel has had a ton of success in Canada and is currently the reigning Male Artist of the Year at the Canadian Country Music Awards. He was the youngest artist ever to be nominated and currently has 10 CCMAs. He built up an incredible fan base in Canada and decided it was time to move to Music City. Pulling the trigger after marrying his wife in 2011, they moved to Nashville in 2012 and his goal was to harness the momentum and energy from his Canadian success and bring it to the American market. “We love the city and the creative atmosphere that is here and we love our friends that have turned into family. If we can we will stay here for the rest of our lives,” he explains.
His latest single, and the title track off of his new full-length album, “We Were That Song” is being spun on Sirius XM The Highway. Kissel explains that although he did write the majority of the songs on the new record, “We Were That Song” was written by one of his favorite writers on Music Row, Jonathan Singleton and when he heard it he knew he had to record it. “The record has 13 tracks and it is an extremely diverse project, we have a lot of everything. Country music is the only genre, in my opinion, that lets other genres kind of seep in,” he tells us about his latest project “My record was designed to disarm what anybody thought country music could be.”
If you are looking for diversity, We Were That Song is chock full of it. From a duet with Dave Mustaine, the founder, and lead of the heavy metal band Mega Death, to a touching song written specifically about becoming a dad to daughters (Kissel has two) each country fan will find something to love. “I wanted to create a record that was like everybody’s playlist on their phone. If people listen to classic country then Rihanna and then Bieber, then Aldean then FGL then they circle back around to me, I wanted to make sure my record was chaotic and random so that everybody found something that they liked on it,” he proudly tells us.
Explaining that he understood the risks of releasing an album that is sonically all over the map, he tells us, “I think we need to risk some things to get noticed in Nashville, which is just filled with so many great songwriters and artists, I just wanted to do something that was different and something that spoke to me.” Looking forward to the new year, Kissel says he is so happy about the way the first single is performing organically and he looks forward to promoting the new album and playing his music for his fans.