INTERVIEW: LGBT Country Artist Brandon Stansell Looks To Pick Up Where He Left Off in New EP. Talks New Music, Making History on CMT & MORE.
Hailed by Rolling Stone as “a country artist you need to know,” rising singer, songwriter and musician Brandon Stansell has been slowly making a name for himself in the country world – and doing it on his own terms. Coming from a family who was never supportive of Stansell’s sexuality in addition to pursuing a genre of music that hasn’t been inclusive to LBGT+ artists, Stansell has been working hard to redefine the genre. In 2018, he made history when CMT premiered the music video for his song “Hometown” that follows the emotional journey he faced when coming out as it was the first LGBT themed video to appear on the platform. Since putting out his first EP in 2015 he’s been both an advocate and inspiration as he continues to be vulnerable and sincere in his music and his latest EP, This Must Be The Place is no exception. The six track record showcases his own take on the country-pop sound that infuses soulful vocals with introspective storytelling. This Must Be The Place is described as “a perfect picture of this specific time in the young songwriter’s life” and with its raw honesty you’ll feel like you’ve made a new friend after listening. He shares the story behind the songs on the EP, why representation matters, what is was like collaborating with Cam and so much more. Check out the full interview below:
ALL ACCESS: Starting from the beginning, what was it about music that you were so drawn to? What went into the decision to pursue it full time?
BRANDON: Well, I have been singing my entire life. I started working for Opryland in Nashville when I was six-years-old as performer and really never looked back. I knew I would spend the rest of my life chasing those stage lights.
AA: Huge congrats on the release of your latest EP, This Must Be The Place. How did you end up deciding on these (6) songs to include on the project? Which one were you most nervous to release and why?
B: Oh, thank you! It’s always exciting to release new music. My writing tends to be quite personal, so every release usually reflects what’s going on in my life at that moment, and this record is no exception. The EP is about dating again, dates gone wrong, and days when I’ve felt weighed down by the days behind me rather than what’s ahead. It feels both personally reflective and re-inventive in a way.
AA: Now I read that “Good At The Time” was a date gone wrong – what’s the story behind that one?
B: My co-writers Sam Creighton and Will Jay got a lot of laughs in at my expense while we were writing this one. The song is about a Palm Springs getaway that went a little off the rails – I will spare you the details, but they’re all in the song so…go listen!
AA: There are now (3) openly LGBTQ+ country artists signed to major labels (Brooke Eden, Lily Rose, T.J. Osborne) which is up from 0 just over a year ago and your video “Hometown” was the first LGBTQ+ themed video to play on CMT. As a part of the LGBTQ+ community and being in the country music space, what do milestones like these mean to you?
B: It’s exciting to see other artists finally comfortable enough to come out. Country Music needed these people! Queer people who love country music needed these people. Aspiring queer country artists needed these people. Where there once seemed like there was no space for the queer community in this genre, there is now. And I feel very grateful to have been in the mix of such incredible artists who have helped turn the tide. We’re still aways away from where we need to be in terms of equality and visibility but we’ve taken some huge leaps in the past few years.
B: Well, I adore Cam. We met a few years ago at a benefit show in Nashville and just stayed in touch. When I had a work-tape for this song, I sent it over to her and asked if she wanted to feature on it. She responded with a bunch of crying emojis…and I took that as a YES! I was so happy and honored to have her – she is the real deal. As for another artist collab…there are things in the works, so stay tuned!
AA: What’s been the best or most influential piece of advice/tip/trick that’s stuck with you over the years (personal and/or professional)?
B: A friend of mine once told me if I kept waiting for someone to open a door for me, I’d spend my life sittin’ behind a closed door. That’s been motivating to me over the years.
AA: In the “Pick Up Where We Left Off” music video it depicts some of the stuff we found ourselves doing during quarantine last year like puzzles, gaming and drinking straight from the bottle. Besides music, how did you pass time and/or keep sane during the isolated times in 2020?
B: Well like most people, I spent a majority of my days just trying to keep it together. I am so grateful I have music as an outlet. On my worst days, my guitar was a really good friend to me. I’ve put out two EPs since the start of the pandemic. And I would say, the music really did save me.
AA: If you could say one thing to your younger self and one thing to your future self what would they be?
B: It’s gonna be ok.
AA: If you could only listen to (5) artists for the rest of your life who would they be?
AA: What’s the rest of 2021 and early 2022 look like for you?
B: Well, I guess now is as good a time as any to say I’m turning the newly released EP into a full record. I’m currently writing the last few tracks and will be back in the studio later this month. The full record will come out early 2022!
A huge congrats to the talented Brandon Stansell on the release of his recent EP, This Must Be The Place. Keep up with his journey, the upcoming full record and those to-be-announced collaborations by checking out the links below: