Out country singer Brandon Stansell talks resisting ‘heartless’ administration through music

Out gay singer Brandon Stansell burst onto the country music scene in 2016 with his latest EP. Now, the California country crooner has written his first full-length album, Slow Down.

Over the past year, Brandon has quickly made his mark using his platform to speak his mind. The recently released music video, for the single “Spare Change,” is his latest to feature powerful messages of acceptance and inclusion for all marginalized communities. In addition, the emerging artist recently performed at St. Louis Pride and Sacramento’s Rainbow Festival. 

Brandon is currently raising money to produce and release his first full-length album. For more information, visit: http://tinyurl.com/BrandonKICKS.

Brandon took some time to speak with GLAAD about his music career and resisting the current presidential administration through his music.

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GLAAD: How did you get into the country music industry? What inspired you to get started?

Brandon Stansell: I love country music and have my entire life. I grew up in a small town just outside of Chattanooga but spent my entire childhood wanting to live in Nashville (and thanks to my parents, who drove me back and forth almost every other day to sing in shows at what used to be Opryland USA, it basically felt that way at times). Regardless, growing up in Tennessee, I was surrounded by country music. I'd wake up listening to what my older siblings were into -- Alabama, Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, and Amy Grant. Musicians who have influenced me to this day. Thank God my siblings had good taste. 

Amy Grant, who was actually the outlier, is THE reason I started singing. I heard “Baby Baby” for the first time when I was five years-old and knew then what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. (A side note: I met Amy Grant shortly after hearing her song for the first time on her 1991 Heart In Motion Tour. We took a picture backstage together, and it proudly hangs in my apartment as a constant reminder of when this journey of mine first began.)

GLAAD: What does it mean to you to be an out singer-songwriter?

BS: Well, it means I get to write and sing honestly about my life experiences. Country music is rooted in storytelling and my music is just that – my story. For anyone who has ever been to my live show, they can tell you I talk candidly about my inspiration for songs, ranging from family to falling in love. 

GLAAD: We’ve seen a number of high profile LGBTQ moments in the country music community in recent years. How have you experienced the evolution of acceptance in country music?

BS: I think fans of country music are more accepting than they are given credit, although I do think there are still quite a few minds and hearts to change. I am so excited to say I am going to be a part of Ty Herndon’s Concert for Love and Acceptance Show, which is something I think would have been inconceivable 10 years ago in this industry. It’s an exciting time for gay artists in country music and I am thrilled to be a part of the changing tides. 

GLAAD: You’ve stated in previous interviews that the video for “Spare Change” is an act of “joyful resistance.” What are you resisting?

BS: I’m resisting this heartless administration. The message of the “Spare Change” video is 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 a president 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.

GLAAD: What inspired you to tell the story told in the “Spare Change” video?

BS: We started thinking through the treatment of this video shortly after Trump announced and initiated his travel ban. I saw the world in an uproar, rightfully so, and wanted to make sure the moment didn’t pass without me being on record as saying in some way of saying how vehemently I disagreed with the policies being enacted on innocents in this country.

GLAAD: What would you tell LGBTQ young people living in the heartland?

BS: I would say, “you’re not alone.” Though our stories may differ in detail, I can honestly say I know what you’re going through. And even though it’s hard, and you may feel hopeless at times, I promise it will get better and you will be a stronger, confident, and more self-sufficient person for having had this experience. 

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To keep up to date with Brandon, follow @brandonstansell on Twitter and Instagram.

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