The local phenom is gearing up to play Centerfield Music Festival in St. Paul in a month’s time. “It’s the history — that’s the thing I’m most excited about.”
Brett Kissel was grateful that he decided at the end of the day to go to the Juno Awards, instead of the Edmonton Oilers Game 7 against the LA Kings. Not only did his favourite hockey team pull out an impressive 2-0 victory, Kissel pulled out the Country Album of the Year award for his latest record What is Life?
“It was a very special moment for me and for my team, but also to celebrate with Cecilia and the kids the very next day,” said Kissel in conversation with Lakeland Connect.
Kissel was nominated for two Juno Awards at Sunday night’s ceremony in Toronto, also receiving acclaim for his number one single Make’ a Life, Not a Living, which was up for Single of the Year.
“It is extraordinary. And it feels a lot different. It’s tough to say that it feels better this time around. But to maybe go back and use a hockey reference, there’s been a few athletes who would win a Stanley Cup in the first year that they’re in the league, and then there are some extraordinary veterans that may never win a Stanley Cup, and yet will still get into the Hall of Fame.
“So for me, as far as I’m concerned, I feel very, very grateful to have been able to experience that early on in my career, but then also be at this point, a decade in and to have this type of recognition. It feels a lot different and really good,” said Kissel.
What is Life? backstory
The latest record from Kissel is centered around the question of what our purpose is in life, and also how distractions can get us away from what really matters.
Coming out of lockdowns and the pandemic, Kissel said this was something he deeply considered. In fact, it’s part of conversations he had with Graham Wardle from the show Heartland, who share the same life coach.
“If you take a microphone out from my hands and a stage from under my cowboy boots or a guitar from off my shoulders, what good am I, you know, what do I really offer this world when music was taken away? What is life really about? So we had a lot of great conversations. And I felt that that would be the perfect title for the record based on these really special back and forths that we had,” he said.
While this provided the theme for the album, the tracks, Kissel says are heart-driven, instead of hit-driven.
But there is even newer music for the Flat Lake product to share.
Collaborating with 98 Degrees, Kissel dropped his latest single Ain’t the Same in late April.
They met backstage in 2017 in Toronto and after not exchanging much since sharing a dressing room, the opportunity seemed to just present itself.
“I sent it to my manager, Jim, who’s very, very close with Nick Lachey and Jeff Timmons, and he just texted it to them. And they got back to him within five minutes said, we love this song. Let’s do it together. So that was it. There’s no other story to it, other than we sent it in a text.
“No red tape, no paperwork, no contracts, none of that BS, they just went in the studio. And how you hear the song right now is how they did it in one take in the studio. That’s how good they are,” said Kissel.
Centerfield headliner June 18
St. Paul will be the place to be on June 17 and 18 for their annual Centerfield Music Festival, which features two nights of country music.
On Friday night, Juno winner and Saskatchewan’s own Jess Moskaluke headlines the stage, before Kissel takes the spotlight on Saturday night.
While he spends some “cottage country” time in Ontario right now with his family, and with a date in Milan after the festival in the offing, there isn’t anything quite like performing at home, says Kissel. Especially because many of his newest songs he’s never performed live.
“There’s this catalog of songs that I’ve never played live for anybody. So if people are like, you know, I’ve seen Brett before, like, no, you don’t realize I’ve got like eight new songs in the past three years that I finally get an opportunity to share with my friends and my family and my fans in St. Paul.
“One would think that I’m very excited about Italy, which I am, but I’m more excited about the show at Centerfield, well, because it’s my hometown.”