January 21st, 2015 | Comments off
When you come from a place called Flat Lake, Alberta, it’s pretty tough to get noticed. For Brett Kissel, it’s pretty tough to be ignored.The 23-year-old singer/songwriter has released two independent albums, sold out countless shows, and earned two Canadian Country Music Association Award nominations, becoming its youngest nominee ever. Brett Kissel is now ready to release his major label debut album through Warner Music Canada, Started With A Song.Co-produced by Kissel with Ted Hewitt (Rodney Atkins) and CCMA Award-winner Bart McKay, Started With A Song is an exhilarating collection of music that can be best described as the New Wave of Old Country: each song a slice of real-life sentiment; emotional touchstones that run the gamut of highs and lows and explore such subjects as deep love, trying moments and poignant reflection, measured out by hell-raising good times and a sense that something special is happening here.
Listening to the rousingly playful title track, the invigoratingly catchy “321” and the modern country gem “Something You Just Don’t Forget,” it is no wonder why Bob Doyle, the manager behind Garth Brooks and The Band Perry, proceeded to sign Brett to a co-management and publishing deal upon meeting him in Nashville.
Kissel makes it clear how personal these songs really are with tracks like “Country In My Blood” – written about the Alberta cattle ranch that has been in his family for over a century – the poignant true-life tale of his grandparents in the moving ballad “Together (Grandma and Grandpa’s Song)” and “Girl In A Cowboy Hat,” an upbeat song about potential romance.
Last summer, Kissel headlined Canada’s largest country music festival – Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose, Alberta. After a late set and a long autograph line, he returned home to the ranch at 3 a.m. At 6:45 a.m. there was a knock on his bedroom door. It was his grandfather (“who we affectionately call Grandpa Bear”).
“I said, ‘Grandpa, I’d really like to sleep in. I just played Big Valley Jamboree last night and I’ve only had two hours of sleep.’ And he said, ‘Wake up, because you’re no country star on the farm!’
Kissel realized at that moment, “My Grandpa was right. No matter what I do, even if it’s playing in front of 25,000 people, once I get home, work needs to get done. It doesn’t matter who I am onstage.”
It’s a much different kind of work when he hits the road, which he does often. An energetic and electrifying performer, Kissel plays upwards of 150 shows a year.
His parents remind him that he’s been an attention-seeker his whole life. “I craved the spotlight. Any opportunity to stand up on the couch and belt out a tune when I was 3 or 4 years old, I always took.”
When his grandmother bought him a Sears-catalogue guitar just before his 7th birthday, Kissel’s fate was sealed.
“It was this deep-rooted passion inside of me. When I was 10 years old, I was playing three-chord Johnny Cash songs at talent shows, but singing them two octaves higher than his deep baritone voice.
“When I was 12 and I got a $50 honourarium to play for a local 4H club – I realized I could do this for a living,” he chuckles. “Usually it took me two birthdays and a really generous tooth fairy to make $50. And I made that in 20 minutes just playing and singing songs? I was over the moon.”
Kissel continued to perform at various agrarian events and celebrations, even being paid for one concert with a pure bred bull.
Influenced by the likes of Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell, Buck Owens and George Strait, Brett Kissel is still very much his own man: a dynamic, charismatic performer, singer and songwriter and ready to make an imposing impression on the global country music scene with Started With A Song.
“I write music that’s true to myself, about experiences that I’ve had in my young age,” Kissel declares, “and it’s my hope that the fans and all the people listening are either touched by it or can escape wherever they need to escape from for three-and-a-half minutes.
“I’ve been working on these songs for three years, and cannot wait to begin making new fans by playing around the world.”
When he finally reaches that goal – and you know that Brett Kissel has the confidence, determination and talent to pull it off – remember, of course, that it all Started With A Song.
January 14th, 2015 | Comments (0)
Crop Circles, Dean Brody says, is an album he hopes will take listeners away from the cares of daily life for a while. “When we listen to music, we don’t necessarily want to think about what’s going on in the here and now, we want to go on a journey, and I hope that’s what happens for my fans with this record.”
Job done – On songs like ‘The Old Sandbar’ and ‘Mountain Man,’ the Jaffray, BC born, Nova Scotia-based singer/songwriter celebrates his love of the East Coast and his childhood home at the foot of the Rockies and, with his Civil War era love story, ‘Kansas Cried,’ transports listeners through time and space without missing a beat.
Crop Circles covers a lot of miles and nowhere more so than on Brody’s lead single, ‘Bounty,’ a fiery, turn of the century, murder ballad that finds Brody’s characters running from the law on a late night train to Mexico and features a standout performance by fellow Canadian country singer, Lindi Ortega. In it’s first week of release, ‘Bounty’ held the #1 Most Added song overall and #1 Most Added spot at Country radio for two consecutive weeks and displays Brody’s growth as a writer, lyricist and storyteller in equal measure with a story that has both substantial emotional weight and a certain amount of levity. ‘Bounty’ recently reached #1 on the Canadian Country singles chart!
Regardless of the topic or whether a song is purely observational or drawn from his personal experience, Brody’s music has a cinematic quality that makes it easy for listeners to put themselves into his songs and to feel as if they’re traveling along with his characters. “I see the world in pictures and I love stories and creating worlds, either using my own background, or by putting myself in other people’s shoes, because I’m fascinated by other people’s perspectives on life.”
Although Crop Circles finds Brody adopting a darker, rock-fuelled tone, it also showcases his ample sense of humour and his unique ability to weave a fine yarn, regardless of where or when a song takes place. Nowhere is that more evident than on the album’s title track, which offers up a plausible and hilarious solution to the longstanding mystery of how crop circles are actually created and the fact that they might have more to do with country boys taking their dates on a joy ride through a farmer’s fields than with aliens visiting Earth. “I am trying to have more fun on this record,” Brody says, “and ‘Crop Circles’ is a perfect example. It’s a crazy song that just got crazier when we went into the studio, and when we do it live it goes up a notch again.”
“I love shaking things up musically and lyrically,” he continues. “I wasn’t just influenced by George Jones and Merle Haggard, but by bands like AC/DC, Aerosmith, The Kentucky Headhunters and all kinds of artists, so those influences play a role in what I do and I’m lucky to have fans who’ll let me explore them.”
Truth to tell, Brody shakes it up right from the album’s opener, ‘Four Wheel Drive,’ a song that sets the record straight for anyone who might be tempted to turn their nose up at someone because of what they look like or where they call home. “What’s most important is being good to other people and ‘Four Wheel Drive’ is about the idea that you don’t have to rub elbows with high society to be popular with the ladies. You just have to romantic and be a good guy.”
That belief is heavily informed by Brody’s life experience and specifically his childhood growing up in Jaffray, BC, where he worked in the local sawmill prior to and during his pursuit of a career as a singer/songwriter. But it’s also a product of the fact that, in Brody’s experience, in order to find your true place in the world, often, you may need to cover a fair number of miles yourself.
That was certainly the case when Brody was chasing his own musical dreams. Shortly after moving to Nashville in 2004, Brody found himself unable to work in the US legally and seriously considered giving up on music entirely. Owing to the intervention of producer, Matt Rovey, (with whom Brody has worked with on all of his albums to date), Brody got the chance to record his self-titled debut. The album’s lead single ‘Brothers’ was a hit in the US and Canada and garnered Brody multiple CCMA Award nominations as well as the 2009 CCMA Award for Single of the Year.
Later that year Brody relocated to Nova Scotia’s south shore and signed a deal with Canada’s Open Road Recordings, on which he released his sophomore record, Trail In Life (2010), and his hugely successful 2012 follow up, Dirt, both of which won the CCMA Award for Album of the Year in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Additionally, Dirt’s lead single, ‘Canadian Girls,’ became the first track by a Canadian artist to hit #1 on the Canadian Country Chart since 2008. Dirt also yielded two #1 videos on CMT, two certified Gold singles (for ‘Canadian Girls’ and ‘It’s Friday’ – featuring Great Big Sea), and earned Brody the title of most played Canadian Artist on country radio in 2011 and 2012. Both records were also nominated for JUNO Awards in the category of Country Album of the Year. In all, Brody has been nominated for twenty-six CCMA Awards and recently took home the 2013 CCMA Award for Male Artist of the Year for the second consecutive year.
While Brody, like any songwriter, spends a great deal of time getting his songs just so, on record they sound so honest and immediate, it seems like he’s singing them for the first time. It’s a unique talent and one that’s been a hallmark of his songwriting from day one. But regardless of how far Brody takes listeners on Crop Circles, he takes care to bring them back home again on tracks like ‘Back To The Front Porch’ and ‘Little Things About Us,’ songs that find Brody giving thanks for the joys of home and family and reminding listeners where his own heart lives. “It’s the little things that are special when you’re in love. The things that make you feel nostalgic are usually small and, as time goes on in a relationship, they’re what you appreciate and remember.” Also, he adds: “It’s the little things you often draw on for support when you have to work out larger issues in love and life.”
On Crop Circles, whether a song is specifically about Dean Brody’s own life or not, he displays a singular talent for crafting stories so well lived in they sound like he’s experienced every second of every line, which makes it that that much easier for his audience to see themselves and their own lives and loves reflected in his music.
January 8th, 2015 | Comments off
Kira Isabella has a decade of experience under her belt performing her brand of up-tempo country music across Canada – an impressive feat since she is just barely 19. She has been unstoppable since her first recital at the age of seven when a fervent passion for belting out any song led her to enter every singing competition within driving distance from her hometown of Ottawa, Ontario. Her charming stage presence, bubbly personality and natural talents led her to win nearly every competition.
Kira was always looking for an expressive outlet and eventually the effervescent girl began dabbling in guitar, and writing poetry and lyrics about love, life and boys. She has since penned several tracks herself and performed hundreds of time. An immersed student of her craft, Kira delved into a variety of music, but it was when she discovered the likes of powerhouse country vocalists Shania Twain and Faith Hill, that she knew she was hooked on country.
Continually perfecting her craft set Kira Isabella apart from the crowd and she developed her stage presence skills anywhere she could. This hard work eventually led to her performing with the likes of Canadian country stars Jessie Farrell, Aaron Pritchett and Gord Bamford. By 2009 the buzz surrounding Kira’s powerful pipes and dynamic sound couldn’t be ignored any longer, and she was signed to Sony Music Entertainment Canada.
In 2011, Kira released her first single “Love Me Like That,” and it was a runaway hit crossing over into the Canadian Hot 100 Chart, while also earning a 2012 Canadian Radio Music Award in the Country category at Canadian Music Week. The debut single is a perfect example of Kira’s desire to tell a story with music. It’s a story of a girl in young love with all its innocence, and talking on the phone all night, being told you’re beautiful and wanting that perfect boy.
Kira continued her rise all through 2012 performing at various summer festivals around Canada such as Boots and Hearts Festival and Big Valley Jamboree, and releasing another single “A Little More Work.” The track quickly climbed up the charts with its catchy melody and infectious hooks and was another hit for the young artist.
Her hard work was rewarded in the fall of 2012 with a Canadian Country Music Award for Rising Star – a highlight for the young songstress, and solidified Kira’s arrival on the country music scene. If the accolades of awards weren’t enough, Kira was added as support for select dates on Carrie Underwood’s Blown Away Tour in October of 2012 just in time for her debut album release Love Me Like That, on October 2, 2012.