Interview with Brandon Stansell

First question, how did you get involved in music?
Since before I can remember I knew I wanted to be a singer. Like so many, I grew up singing at church. I think the first song I ever sang was Amy Grant’s I Have Decided – even though I remember pushing for Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman. Growing up, my parents were always supportive of my artistic choices, but even they had to veto things from time to time.
When I was six, I started working for what used to be Opryland Productions in Nashville. So, much of my childhood was wrapped up in performing at Opryland. My first show was on the Opry stage. I never really looked back from there.

Did you have a favorite song or artist growing up? How has that influenced your music?
I have always been a huge fan of country music. Growing up, I spent most of my time listening to every REBA album I could get my hands on. She was one of my biggest influences as a child, and looking back now I think I chose wisely…even at the age of six.
As a musician, do you enjoy performing live or working in the studio? Are there certain aspects of both you enjoy?
I think it’s just as important to know what you don’t want to do as much as it is to know what you do want to do. For most of my life, being on stage was a euphoric experience. It made me feel alive. But, for one reason or another, my passions shifted over the years and now I find more joy and fulfillment in making music rather than performing it.

What inspired the idea of your Dear John concept album?
During the writing process, I gave the project the working title Dear John, but had every intention to come up with an alternate title later. I began writing for the project soon after a breakup, and the idea was that once it was finished I would have written my own sort of “dear john” letter. So…the project basically started out as cheap self-therapy.
The EP is conceptual in the fact that I wrote the songs as I felt them journeying through heartbreak, ambivalence, hatred, remembering and eventually the process of letting go. Writing was a way of putting my feelings into a tangible form so they weren’t forgotten while still giving me the freedom to move on and heal.

The title single from the album is your first foray into songwriting, did you find composing music difficult? Do you have a process?
Dear John was actually the last song written for the EP. I co-wrote it with two Nashville-based writers, Parker Welling and Hailey Steele. At the time, writing was a fairly new process for me. Thankfully, I partnered with such seasoned writers. They helped bring to life something I don’t know I could have done by myself so early on in my writing career.
In terms of the process, I typically like to go into a session with an idea and a basic structure for the song. This has always served me well in that it gives me a jumping off point while still leaving room for other writers to contribute to the creative process. It’s like my Momma always said, “you never show up anywhere empty handed!” So, I’ve applied that bit of sage advice to my writing sessions as well.

In the future, where would you like your music to take you?
I am actually working on a new project now with plans to record this summer. The project is going to be produced by Erik Halbig who recently co-wrote and produced the new record for Ty Herndon set to release in May of this year.
Although I am not certain of the trajectory I’m on, I do know as long as I have something to write about and as long as people are listening and responding the way they have to this initial project, I’ll keep making music

You can check out Brandon’s latest track here

Find out more about him on his website

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