It's been an exciting year for up-and-coming gay country music artist Brandon Stansell. This month, he released his fourth music video for his latest single, "Spare Change." In addition, the singer has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his full-length album, Slow Down.
In his second interview with PRIDE, Stansell tells us about the plans for his album, the meaning behind his music, and more.
PRIDE: Last time we talked to you, in December of last year, you'd just premiered your second music video, "Slow Down." But your career seems to be doing anything but! How have things changed for you since last December?
Stansell: Thank you, it's been an amazing year! Well, the Slow Down EP was always meant to be a teaser for what would be a full album, so basically as soon as it was released in September, I started writing for the new record. Luckily the whole writing team (including MYLEN, who co-wrote both "Slow Down" and "Spare Change") and some new faces came on board, as well as my dear friend Steph Jones who is just crazy talented. But I've been playing gigs all over the country, which is incredible, and just finally seeing my music and videos reach hundreds of thousands of people has been mind blowing! Now if we could just get rid of Trump, it would have been a near perfect 12 months...
Your Kickstarter campaign launched this month. What attracted you to this platform?
Because honestly, it seems to work! It certainly did for me on the first EP. But Kickstarter is both exciting and horribly nerve-wracking all at the same time. After creating a budget for this project, which includes the production of seven new songs, two new videos, and all the many, many dollars it takes to pretty-up this face in pictures, I realized it was going to cost roughly $30,000. Which was more than I had access to, unless I wanted to start selling my body for money or rob the offering plate on its next time around. But with Kickstarter, I think most people know it’s an all-or-nothing situation, so if we fail to raise the money needed to actually fund the project, it won’t happen. Which means it’s probably time for a shameless appeal—the campaign is live right now!
In addition to your Kickstarter launch, your new music video, "Spare Change," premiered this month. The heart-warming video definitely has a political element to it. What message do you hope viewers take away from this song and this video?
One of solidarity in resistance. And that this moment in time is a painful, but shared experience. I wanted this video to be as entertaining as it was thought-provoking. We have an Administration actively dismantling the rights of minorities in this country and I wanted to use my music as my own form of protest. One thing the queer community has always been good at is protesting in colorful and creative ways, so this new video is just another voice in the choir. Like I always say, if you’re going to take the time to make something, it better mean something. And at the end of the day, if anyone watches this video and is kinder to one stranger—especially someone who doesn't look like them—then I'm happy.
In light of recent events in Charlottesville, and the subsequent fallout, this video seems very prescient. What role do you see art and music playing in today's tumultuous current events?
Art is always the barometer of the heart of a country, and right now we need more heart in this country, so we create more art. Historically, when a people are oppressed they create, so I feel like making good work creates a kind of virtuous cycle: it emboldens others to join in. And slowly but surely, we use it to show each other that we're all in this together.
You've referred to "Spare Change" as an "act of joyful resistance." How else can people be "joyfully resistant" in the world today?
Well, I think one thing that keeps me smiling is being on the side of "right." No one is ever going to look back on this time and say we should have been more aggressive to minorities. We should have kicked more people out of our country. We should have been less understanding. We should have been more hateful. We should have built that wall. We really should have taken away healthcare from millions. Sometimes looking ahead is the only thing that keeps my head from hanging in shame and absolute embarrassment these days. And so if anything, I would encourage people to find THEIR voice also, because the right path needs defenders. As we keep seeing lately, truth whispers and lies shout. So we all need to speak up, even if just to our friends and family.
We've now heard three songs off of your upcoming LP. What can fans expect from the rest of the album?
Honestly, I am so excited for and proud of this project. There are some fun, light-hearted things about the album as well songs with a bit more gravitas, and like many of my songs, they reflect deeply personal experiences. One song in particular, "Hometown," speaks to something a lot of people in our community struggle with: how to reconcile the ideas and culture of where you grew up and your family life with your identity. There is a real vulnerability to some of the new tracks that I am both nervous and excited to share, but it’s one of the main things missing from the EP.
As you continue to share your music and work on your album, you're also booking live performances. Where can fans expect to see you in the coming months?
Well, for anyone living in Los Angeles, I’ll be doing an acoustic set at Flaming Saddles in West Hollywood on August 30 at 8pm! I’m so excited to play here. This gay country bar is basically my mothership! I’ll also be playing the Rainbow Festival in Sacramento on Labor Day weekend alongside my friend Ty Herndon, who is featured on this project. And then I’ll be putting a pin in the live show until October 8, which is the scheduled night for the album release show at Rockwell Table & Stage here in Los Angeles. Tickets are available now online. So come along to one, and say hi!
Check out Brandon's latest music video, "Spare Change," below. Like what you see (and hear)? Contribute to his Kickstarter campaign, featuring plenty of perks and exclusives.
(Photo courtesy of Casey Curry.)