Entertainment Music


Singer/songwriter Kissel a study in perseverance

By Joe Leary

Nashville-based Brett Kissel had a breakthrough year in 2013 as Started with a song and Raise your glass both hit the top-10 in the Canadian singles country chart. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

Nashville-based Brett Kissel had a breakthrough year in 2013 as Started with a song and Raise your glass both hit the top-10 in the Canadian singles country chart. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)

After releasing four independent albums, 23-year-old Brett Kissel finally broke through with his major label debut, Started with a song, a disc that has earned the country star two Juno nominations. Joe Leary spent 24 Seconds with the singer/songwriter.

24: You’re a good old Alberta kid.

BK: I’m from the farming community of Flat Lake, Alberta, and the reason I have to say that is because all the surrounding communities have all kind of adopted me; its six farm yards and a community hall.

24: So you’re a legit farm boy?

BK: Oh yeah, my grandparents and my dad all farm together in Flat Lake. We’ve got about 400 head of cows and I’ve got 25 head of my own. I’m not this big old rancher but I did a gig in Saskatchewan three years ago for the Canadian Speckle Park Cattle Association. I was talking with them about how much purebred cattle cost and realized that my fee for playing the gig was the same as a thoroughbred bull. So I said, ‘Why don’t you pay me with a bull?’ So that’s what they did. I paid my band out of my own pocket and the next week they showed up with my bull. That’s how I started my herd.

24: In country music you’re either rockin’ the hat or not. You’re a hat guy.

BK: In the music business you have to talk about image, where you are and what you’re doing. When I signed my deal, one of the topics with Warner Music was whether I was going to wear a cowboy hat or not. My parents, grandparents and uncles back home all wear a cowboy hat. It isn’t style — this is the way we are.

24: Being on the launching pad to success as you are, and being a young married man and travelling a lot on the road, does that take a toll on you.

BK: In a nutshell there are always trials and tribulations, but my wife and I just like to look at things as we do what we have to do to make it work. The people I really feel for are the military families, police or firefighters who really don’t get to see their spouses for many days on end. I’m just going around entertaining people, but yes I miss my family back home and miss my wife.

24: You’re now living in Nashville. What is it that Nashville adds to a country music career?

BK: In every situation, you look at any country artist without fail that has made it on the international scene they have to go through Nashville. Nobody has really figured out why and nobody’s figured out how. In rock, in pop, you can make it out of Vancouver or L.A., New York, Toronto, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. But you need to make it to Nashville to be in country music. I’m grateful that I get to live there and be immersed in that industry and get to meet so many incredible people from songwriters and producers to people working in the record business. I feel that I’ve become a better artist because I’ve immersed myself in that industry.

24: Every country artist dreams of playing the Grand Ole Opry. That’s obviously considered the pinnacle.

BK: Without a doubt, for me it would be. I have yet to play it and hope that I do. I think it’s like to a hockey player getting to play at the Olympics or just raise that Stanley Cup. For me, that’s what the Opry would be.


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