This week on Small Talk, we sat down with Canadian Country Star, Brett Kissel, to chat about getting back to our roots, keeping a family focus, and standing proudly as the truest expressions of ourselves.
Brett Kissel has been in the country music scene for the majority of his life. Having released his first album ‘Keepin it Country” at the age of 12, one would assume that he was born with it.
“It certainly was this internal compass that was guiding me towards the genre of country music.”
Born in the Canadian countryside and having grown up on a farm, Brett had external inspiration all around him.
“Country music was the music and the lifestyle we lived. So, I wasn’t going to go into pop; I wasn’t going to go into rock; I was only going to sing country songs because I was able to express the culture and the values I loved so much.”
Having a family that supports our dreams and desires from a young age can be fuel for the fires within our hearts. When we have support and encouragement, we can’t help but excel in whatever field we step into.
Brett Kissel’s grandparents on either side of his family did exactly that and played a major role in his developing country career.
“My grandparents would drive me around to little auditions, gigs, and rodeos, things that I would play at as a ten-year-old, eleven-year-old, and twelve-year-old. And we would listen to traditional country music. So, even though I was a kid of the ’90s, sure, I loved the big artists from that time, but I loved Johnny Cash more because my grandparents were playing their music for me.”
Charlie Pry, Glen Campbell, and Johnny Cash were the musicians that Brett Kissel admired the most. Being a ten-year-old and showing up to gigs playing Johnny Cash had much of the audience left in a stunned state.
Yet, his unique taste in music is what differentiated him from the rest and drew in the attention of the crowd.
“They loved how different I was, and I loved that they loved me. So, it was a great budding relationship.”
Roots Run Deep
Brett’s two albums, ‘Tried and True,' and ‘My Roots Run Deep,’ are beautiful tributes to his country as well as where he comes from. Getting back to our roots is critical, especially in the fast-paced world that we live in today.
“I believe that it’s essential, and it’s part of the human spirit to spread your wings and fly, but also have an opportunity to come back home. This year especially, and with my new album that came out, I’ve really gone around the world and realized that the grass maybe isn’t greener on the other side.”
So often, we find ourselves searching far and wide for what will make us happier and what will make us feel more whole, but more often than not, we come to find that we’ve had it all along, and all that was needed was getting back to where we came from.
“The more I travel, the more I realize how good I had it at home. So, I want my kids to grow up in that setting.”
For the first time in twelve years, Brett did a project and created an album that we know and love as, ‘My Roots Run Deep.’ With the album being centered around the farm, Brett did everything he could to talk about and honor his western heritage.
“Those two records were albums that kind of put me on the map on a more provincial and national scale because I was able to pay tribute to things that Canadians hold dear; their homeland, their country, their small-town values, as well as the great artists from previous generations that paved the way for newcomers like me. However, I didn’t know at the time the magnitude of those decisions.”
Having released his albums to solely express his truest self, with little to no expectation behind it, Brett was stunned by the magnitude and the impact that both albums had across the country.
“I was doing it not for this grand appeal or for this grandiose project, but I was doing it just because it was what I wanted to do, and whether it was successful or not was out of my hands. But now I’m looking back as a person who's 30 years old, and I’m thinking, ‘wow, those were very special decisions that I think put me on the right path.’
The New King of Canadian Country
Brett Kissel has been named “The New King of Canadian Country,” with 2 gold-certified albums, a platinum, 8 gold singles, and 15 top-10 radio hits, Brett’s music speaks volumes to listeners across the globe.
“I’ve been very lucky to have such great experience. I’m only thirty, but some artists get started in their mid to late twenties, so by the time they’re fifty, they’ll have twenty years under their belts. I started when I was nine years old, so, being thirty, I’ve got two decades of experience. I realize where I fit, and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to find that early.”
Finding where we fit can be a challenging task. Many years can be spent chasing an idea of who we should be, how we should look, or what we should sound like, and the time spent conforming to the status quo is time taken away from thriving as ourselves.
“It doesn’t come without struggles or hard times, but it’s always easiest to be who you really are, and it’s often difficult to be someone that you’re not. In fact, I would say it’s impossible.”
‘We all have to go through it, says Brett, ‘but the sooner we get back to ourselves, the better.’
As mentioned in our interview with Eliza Taylor, ‘we need to try new things and push boundaries to see what we’re truly capable of.’
“I had to try all of these different styles to really figure out what I am good at, what my passion is, what I can provide to the world, and where I can be the best that I can be. And that’s as an entertainer and as a storyteller. So, I think what differentiates me from other country singers is that my number one priority is entertainment and offering true service to anyone who chooses to buy a ticket. Whether it’s ten people, one hundred people, one thousand or ten thousand, I play for them all.”
Whatever it is one may be going through, when attending one of Brett Kissel’s concerts, his focus and dedication are on making sure that each member of the audience is given his undivided attention and experiences the best night they’ve had in a long time, and maybe even in their lifetime.
“I can’t wait to tell my kids when they’re old enough to understand that they don’t need to look a certain way, act a certain way, or be a certain way; the only thing they need to be in their most true and authentic selves.”
Brett Kissel has had quite a few busy years, with tours, award shows, and countless concerts; it’s impressive how he’s managed to do it all and all the more impressive to have done it with a beautiful family supporting him.
As mentioned in our interview with Kenan Thompson, ‘Importance in leaving space for family is critical.’ And if anyone has found the perfect work-life balance, it’s Brett.
“I think why we work so well with our family unit is because everything that I’ve ever done in music, I’ve integrated my family into it. And everything I’ve ever done in my life with my family, I’ve integrated music into it.”
There tends to be a common difficulty among professionals finding a perfect work-life-balance. When certain aspects of life are kept separate from others, we can’t help but find ourselves juggling what’s important to us, often dropping the ball on what matters.
“We wanted to re-write the rule book and say, ‘you can’t tell us what we can or cannot do in our marriage.’ So, we had to lay very strict boundaries with my team and with the industry in general. My wife is the reason I’m successful, and herself and my children are going to be there by my side every step of the way.”
In placing his values and morals above all else and keeping the two things that matter most to him in balance, Brett has been able to overcome any obstacles thrown at him in the music industry while keeping his family at his side.
“Everything I’ve ever done in music; I’ve integrated my family into it. And everything we’ve done together as a family is really thanks to music. My kids have been to every province and every territory. We’ve been to the arctic circle; we’ve been fishing; we’ve been on the most amazing adventures because we’ve toured together. I’ve not missed out on anything, and neither have my kids, and I’m grateful for that.”
Strength in Stumbling
“The road that we walk as human beings is a crazy, unpredictable road. Sometimes it’s dark, sometimes there’s sunshine, sometimes there’s a torrential downpour, and sometimes there’s a goddamn tornado. You don’t know what you’re going to get.”
In times such as these, many people may feel as if they’re stumbling through these next few steps in their lives. With chaos and turmoil happening across the globe, remembering to have faith in uncertainty is crucial, because after all, the tough times that knock us down are what makes us that much stronger.
“I’m just grateful to have survived all of these things and taken everything that’s ever happened to me as a true lesson. Nobody has gotten to where they’ve gotten without setbacks.”
A diamond cannot form unless it is placed under immense heat and pressure. The same is true for us. When we look back on our lives and reflect on the painful experiences that we may have gone through, it soon becomes clear that within the struggles, we are shaped.
“When it comes to the scars, I look at them as true badges of honor because those are lessons learned that allowed me to get to this point. I’m only thirty, and I have so many more lessons to learn.”
There is a lesson to be learned in every failure.
“I’ve had more failure in my life than success, truly. But maybe I’m gaining so much success because there’s been so much failure.”
No Longer Pursue
“External validation; likes on a photo, positive reviews. I’m grateful for their opinions, and I’m proud when positive feedback comes my way, but that used to be my everything, and it isn’t anymore.”
Feedback can be a valuable aid in our growth. But we must never be controlled by the opinions of others. All you have is all you need, and once we accept ourselves for all that we are, we can step into our true power.
"External drive and external validation will always leave you cold, and it will always leave you lonely. Agents and management need to gather all of the stats so we can have a better product and provide a better service. However, the internal discussion that I've had this year has been to be authentic. That way, win or lose, I am my own self. And there is no winning, and there is no losing because there's no competition."
“When it comes to relationships and parenting, don’t ever take anyone else’s advice. March to the beat of your own drum and write your own rule book.”
Some things that may be a deal-breaker for another couple may not be one in your relationship, and vice versa. The same goes for parenting. There isn’t a, one size fits all policy, or in this case, one solution fits all.
“In terms of relationships and parenting, never take anyone’s advice. And in terms of career, the best advice that I know to be true is that hard work pays off.”
We asked Brett Kissel what he believes one hundred percent to be true, his answer….
“Integrity. That may be the only thing in the world that I believe to be true. If you stand in your integrity, you’ll never lose.”
At TrooMe, we believe that each one of us has a different and unique path to walk down. The roads we walk will undoubtedly come with bumps, twists, and turns, but it is each setback that sets us up for success.
May we follow in Brett Kissel’s footsteps, staying true to our own voices, being of service where and when we can, having a family forward focus, and choosing to stand with integrity for who we are and where we’re going.