LAKELAND - Brett Kissel has used his music to slow down and reflect on a question he has been asking himself his entire life.
'What is Life' is the Flat Lake-native's latest album. Released on April 9, Kissel wanted to dig deep into one of life's toughest questions.
“If you go song by song, each one could actually be an answer to the question ‘What is Life?’ I’ve been asking that question a lot lately, by lately, I mean over the last year, but also my whole life as I try to dive a little deeper," Kissel told Lakeland Today. "The reality is, the universe turned up the volume over the past 13 to 14 months... You know it, I know it, everybody around the world knows it. All I am doing is trying to figure out what am I here to do, what am I good for, and what do I offer this world."
He continued, “I really got deep and personal in finding those songs, writing those songs, and creating a record that reflected exactly where my head was at. Sometimes I was more confused, sometimes I felt like I was more aligned than before, but it’s my most important work to-date and I am really proud of how it all turned out.”
The album, which features songs such as 'Make a Life not a Living,' 'Die to Go Home,' and 'Slidin' Your Way,' is a record that "reflected exactly where my head was at."
By taking the time to slow down and enjoy life with his wife and kids, Kissel said he has been able to feel more grounded, spending time at the farm that has been in his family for 111 years.
He said, “I wanted to bring those feelings of gratitude and appreciation and the grounding thoughts that I have and can be found in country music into this record, to truly make it not about just another musical project and another couple of songs that will go to the radio and then in 18 months we do it all over again. This had to be deeper, bigger, and better.”
Kissel admits in the days leading up to the album's April 9 release, he was worried how his fans would react.
"Maybe I dove too deep and no one wanted to go on that journey, or perhaps I didn’t stay commercial enough. It was a big risk for me."
But the country music artist didn't need to worry as his album debuted at number one.
Even though Kissel is living his best life on the farm in Flat Lake, he is still working hard to promote his latest body of work.
He said, “It’s interesting promoting it virtually and not out on the tour bus playing all of these songs live, but I am hoping that’s going to happen, hopefully by the end of the year. I am just holding on."
Not only is Kissel having to share the news of his latest record with fans through social media and other online platforms, a hometown event he was set to play this summer has been postponed.
The Centerfield Music Festival has been rescheduled for the second-year in a row due to the pandemic, and Kissel has full intentions of making up for lost time.
“To me, to the organizers and after having a really good conversation, I don’t see it as a cancellation, I see it as yet another postponement. We all share the equal frustration – the organizing committee, our sponsors, myself as the headliner, and most importantly our fans that bought tickets,” he said. “What I believe... is that the whole thing (about) absence makes the heart grow fonder is very true. We will make up for lost time, now it’s two years of lost time, but I think we’re all going to bust loose on this party.”
Kissel made it very clear that no matter what comes up in 2022, if the Centerfield Music Festival is happening, he will be there.
"I am making good on this," he stressed, adding he has missed the personal connection with his fans.
“Connection is everything. I think we’re longing for the physical connection and standing side-by-side. I truly believe that. There are going to be a lot of people, maybe post-pandemic that may not be all about it, but for me I am, without question, all about bringing as many people together as we possibly can to celebrate the wins and go through the low points together. The best way I can connect during this actual time when we can’t get together is through social media.”
With that in mind, Kissel will be hosting a virtual performance of his new album on May 3.
Starting at 6 p.m. on his YouTube channel, Kissel and his band will be sharing their music worldwide right from his own backyard.
“It’s like a virtual invitation for everyone to come on out to the ranch and see what it’s all about."
Ultimately, what Kissel wants fans to take away from this album is a sense of gratitude and appreciation, "and to look back on some of the greatest memories with happiness in our hearts. That would be a very special thing to accomplish.”
“This record has a lot of hope even though I do a lot of reminiscing in it. If people could go through the motions and go on this musical journey with me, that would be very special."