Stansell dedicates new song to love.
Cupid rarely misses. It might take a few tries, but ultimately, he always gets it right. The mythology of the arrow-slinging figure is linked to lust, attraction and affection, lending pretty easily and heartily to "falling in love," a tingly feeling that travels from your toes up to the crest of the skull. That high can send you into the clouds, soaring out of your body. That's certainly the case for pop-country up and comer Brandon Stansell, who opens his heart with a new single. "For You," premiering today, details his love for "a wonderful man" he's been dating "for a couple years now," Stansell tells Popdust. "I met him at show of mine. He's the best person I know and the only person I know who smiles with his entire face. He makes me think; he makes me smile; and he is the person I am most excited to see every day. I feel lucky to call him my friend and partner."
The song's production is appropriately airy and heart-palpitating, glued together with prominent acoustic guitar and rousing percussion, acting as a heart's beating throb, both which dance in colorful rays behind Stansell's evocative, plush vocals. Notably, the song "took a lot of left and right turns, but I think we finally landed on the sound we were hoping for all along," he says. "Every time the song starts, I just imagine myself on an inner tube, floating down a river, drinking a beer...and I can't think of anything more summer than that."
For the upcoming music video, which was filmed earlier this week at an undisclosed location and features RuPaul's Drag Race star Eureka, Stansell sought to really illustrate the song's deeply embedded magic. "The subject of the video is all about falling in love and bringing out the best in the ones we love. I think we've done that both lyrically and cinematically," he says. The shoot was both adventurous and familiar, as he explains, "Filming with Eureka was a little like finding an old friend from your hometown and spending the day laughing. I had the best time and also got to see first-hand how much talent, skill and hard work goes into drag. It was a long day that I will never forget, because I got to surround myself with my best friends."
How did you get linked up with Eureka?
Eureka was my initial pick and favorite of Season 10 of RuPaul's Drag Race! Our managers are friends, so the connection was fairly seamless. I couldn't think of a better person to be in this video than Eureka. She is all superstar, fun and summer through and through. My video is better, much better, for having her in it.
What is "For You" leading to next for you?
After this song, I'm going to shift gears back to my album Slow Down and release the second official single "Hometown" with a music video that is very personal to me. We shot the video here in Nashville earlier in the year, and although it's centered on my coming out story, I really believe the message of overcoming terrible pain, finding your chosen family and ultimately learning to appreciate the path that got you to self-love is something a lot of people will relate to. I'm proud of who I have become, and this song and video tells an integral part of my story.
What country musicians had the greatest impact on you growing up?
I grew up listening to female country singers of the '90s. One of my first concerts was Reba at the UTC Arena in Chattanooga. I remember seeing her drive on stage in a white limo, stepping out and singing "Fancy." After that, my career path was pretty well defined.
Why pursue country music?
I didn't have a choice. It's in my blood.
Brandon Stansell Facebook
What is your coming out story, and were family and friends pretty accepting right at the beginning?
My coming out was pretty tumultuous, actually. I grew up in a small Southern Baptist family, and when I came out at 22, my family reacted harshly. They never wanted a gay son/brother and didn't know what to do when they realized they had one. Unfortunately, things were said and done that I don't think any of us really care to remember, but for me, they have been impossible to forget. I have spent the better half of a decade trying to wade through all the things that happened to me, and even though those things were painful, I can't help but to be thankful for them. I'm thankful for the path that brought me here because I believe it is what made me who I am ⎯⎯ and that is person I am deeply proud of.
Being a country-pop performer, have you been met with much bigotry?
Actually, no. I tell people that for the most part I have been met with nothing but positive feedback and encouragement. I'm not sure that will always be the case, but as of now, that has been my experience. I like to think people are more open and accepting than we give them credit to be. We just have to give them the opportunity to show us.
In today's world, how do you stay grounded and unconcerned with ignorance?
I like to think I approach people with both a firm and gracious hand. I find that people are typically prejudicial simply because they just don't know how to be anything but, and in those situations I think all that is needed is some education and course correction. There are those, however, that are simply going to hate for no reason, and there are no words that would change their minds ⎯⎯ and for those people, I feel truly sorry but I give them none of my time.
With artists like Ty Herndon, Chely Wright, and Billy Gillman coming out, along with having allies in Kacey Musgraves, Carrie Underwood, and Marren Morris, among others, are we on the verge of finally getting an LGBTQ+ superstar in country music?
Well, I sure hope so! I think everyone deserves to feel represented in the genre of music that they love, so I think we're well overdue for a breakout LGBTQ artist in country music.
Why has it taken this long for country, especially, to be more widely accepting of LGBT?
I think it isn't just a matter of the genre being accepting but also that us as artists, writers, producers, anyone working in the genre to be out and visible. We can't be accepted if we're not building open and honest relationships as our authentic selves.
Along the same lines, there are very few superstar people of color in country music. Do you think that'll change soon, as well?
Unless you're a straight white male, you are a minority in country music, and I think that's crazy. There is so much good country music out there that doesn't get played for reasons that have NOTHING to do with the music being produced. I am not sure what it will take to turn the tide, but I don't mind being the storm.
How are you taken what you did on your 2017 studio album, Slow Down, and expanded for your next batch of music?
I always tell myself how I wish I was a better songwriter. I am so proud of everything I have done today, but I know I have much more I want to do, and I think I am better qualified now to do it than I ever have been before. So…that makes me excited to write and release more music because I think the best is still yet to come.
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