You’ve never heard country music like this before. While the genre has faced some skepticism in the past, Brandon Stansell is delivering on a whole new level. As one of the few openly gay country artists, Stansell is working hard and using his music to change the stigma around the LGBTQ community. He is no stranger to the difficult and cut-throat music business, but is optimistic and proud of the growing trend of acceptance.
Stansell’s most recent single, ‘For You’, has just hit the internet, along with its own sensational music video. Not only is it full of vibrant colors and a relatable storyline, but it also features RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 Finalist, Eureka O’Hara! You can watch the video on YouTube here!
How would you describe your music genre to someone who hasn’t heard it before? How has your childhood influenced your “voice”?
Well, I grew up listening to mostly 90’s female country — Reba, Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Shania Twain, Faith Hill. And then when I was in college, I started to listening to artists like Skeeter Davis, Brenda Lee, and Dolly Parton. And now I’m crazy about this new wave of female singers coming out of Nashville — Kacey Musgraves, Raelynn, Cassadee Pope, Maren Morris, Cam, etc. So, it’s not that I don’t love the men — because I do love men — but it’s always been the women of country music who have inspired me and been my greatest influences.
When did you know you wanted to pursue music?
When I was six-years-old, I did my very first show on the Opry stage. I joke and tell people I have spent my entire adult life just trying to get back to where I started. Although I was young, I knew then I wanted to sing. I spent my adolescence doing shows at Opryland and learning how be on stage from some of the best performers I have ever known. I consider myself lucky to have been able to start performing so early all the while knowing that is what I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing.
What do you think is the hardest part about being an openly gay country music artist? How has that influenced your music?
Well, I think being an openly gay country artist is pretty similar to being an straight country artist except I date men. I think people are more open than we give them credit to be —we just need to give them the opportunity to show us. So, I have approached my career in country music optimistically. That said, country radio will barely play female artists, so I know for ANY minority a career in country music can sometimes feel like an uphill battle.
What are you doing to try and change the conversation and stigma around LGBTQ people, from your standpoint?
Well, I think visibility is important. I think everyone wants to feel connected and represented — everyone wants to hear a story they can relate to but for LGBTQ fans of country music, that has never been an option. I am hoping to change that.
What’s your favorite place to work on music?
I love grabbing my guitar and just tinkering on my porch or in my living room.
Can you talk a little about the inspiration behind your most recent single, “For You”?
So, I co-wrote “For You” with MYLEN — we both currently shared inspiration to make something that encapsulated all the goodness our partners bring into our lives. I always tell people that my boyfriend is the most kind-hearted loving person I know. My life is so much better for having him in it and I wanted to write about it.
The corresponding music video for “For You” features your ‘favorite’ drag queen from RPDR, Eureka! Talk a little about what it was like getting in contact with her and working with her.
So, Billboard Pride just premiered the new video last week which was basically a dream come true and definitely a first for me. Working with Eureka was everything I hoped it would be — she’s tough as nails and funny as hell. She is also a fellow Tennessean, so having her on set felt a lot like being home except she had more hairspray and heels than my momma ever had!
Where can people find more of your work and what can they follow you on?
You can find just about everything you’d want to know about me and my music and how to follow along on my site here – brandonstansell.com
Are you working on any other exciting, forthcoming projects that you want your fans to know about?
Yes! We’re working on a few remixes of ‘For You’ which will be coming out in the next few weeks. We’ll also be releasing a lyric video for the song featuring Eureka — stay tuned for that gem! And then later this fall, we’ll be making a bit of right turn and releasing a new video for my new single ‘Hometown’.
If you could give other aspiring artists, especially those in the LGBTQ community, one piece of advice, what would it be?
The best advice I can give is “don’t wait for opportunities to find you, go find them!” If I had waited for someone to open a door for me, I’d still be sittin’ behind a closed door.
Photo Courtesy of Lauren Eisentraut