Interview: Brett Kissel Wants You to Get All Up in His Business
Brett Kissel says his wife has a way of detecting what's real and honest and what (or who) is fraudulent. He calls it her — well, we can't say what he calls it, but this "meter" is critical to the success of the Nashville based, Canada-raised singer's life and career.
Cecilia Kissel doesn't just cover his blindspots, she covers blindspots he didn't even know were blindspots. Their full-life collaboration (including three little kids) is at the center of Kissel's career, to the point that they even started a blog and lifestyle brand called Keeping It Kissel to document their journey. This isn't some vanity project, made out of boredom or an exaggerated idea of how popular they are. It is who they are.
“What’s unique about our union," Kissel, 29, tells Taste of Country, "is that everything we do in business has to have a family angle, and everything we do in our family has to integrate our life and music and business. So when we wake up in the morning, we just are. There’s no two sides."
The "Drink About Me" singer is a headliner in Canada who's just beginning to find success in America. That can be a trying transition, one that comes with little to no benefit of the doubt. Much like Texas-based artists like Cody Johnson may headline arenas in their home state but open club shows in the Northeast, Kissel has to be versatile and humble.
Neither are a problem. Musically, his most recent album Now Or Never is a dynamic, eight-song collection with two seemingly opposing book ends, a pop-friendly banger called "She Drives Me Crazy" and softer, more introspective ballad titled "Coffee With Her."
"That is me," he says. "I feel that in music today you can do that. Where as I feel before you really had to be in a box.”
"Artist" may not be the best label for Kissel. Think of him more as a creative entrepreneur. After being a father and husband, singer and songwriter is how he'll identify himself, but through the years he came to learn he's very business-minded. Naturally, he went to school on the stars he opened for. Take Paisley, for example.
“He knows every dollar that’s being spent on the tour," Kissel shares. "He knows the marketing, he knows what his catering costs are, he knows all of that, so that way he can go and say, ‘I don’t understand why we have 40 crew tearing down this arena when it really only takes 18 people to do it.' Or he’s also doing the opposite, saying, ‘We’ve only had 11 people and they’re working their tails off. We need to give them a raise because they’re doing the work of 20 people.'”
Brooks is perhaps the epitome of what a creative entrepreneur looks like in 2020, but a more apples to apples comparison may be someone like Granger Smith, who has diversified with a brand of energy drink, a book, a money-making alter ego and lately, a popular YouTube channel with his wife and kids. The Smiths has over 130,000 subscribers and over eight million total views in 13 months. That doesn't equal much more than a few months rent, but the ceiling is high, and it all feeds back into his music career.
Same for Kissel, but he knows he can't do it alone, and he can't do it with a rotating crew of friends, employees, bandmates and management. Stability is an underrated asset. Many of the guys in his band have been with him since he was a teenager because they've all passed the Cecilia test.
“I’m very welcoming and I love everybody," he says. "She does too, but her radar for detection on those who are genuine and those who might need a bit more alignment or maybe would use me and my career and my personality as a stepping stone to get ahead, she can call that and she can see that.”
It's her bulls--t meter (oops!), and it's his secret weapon.
Kissel's next live show is scheduled for early May, but like all concerts across the world right now, that's very much subject to change. Learn more about Cecilia through her blog and look for the new Keeping It Kissel podcast wherever you find podcasts.
Kissel's fourth studio album, Now or Never, is now available for streaming or purchase through retailers including Amazon.
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