Spotlight – meets Brian John Harwood (25th January 2021)

Brian John Harwood is indeed an interesting artist. Not just only as one part of Kansas Stone, Harwood is a prominent name in the Canadian country music business. Since 2019, he is doing solo records as well. His latest release is his single Getaway, which has been released on 22nd January 2021. Not only as you have the (likely) unique chance to compare Keith Urban with Guns’n’Roses, this interview is definitely worth reading. Enjoy! meets Brian John Harwood

FLYC: Hi Brian, thanks for joining me for an interview. I saw a “Five Questions” interview with you on YouTube. The initial question was which album you can hear at full length without stopping. You named Appetite for Destruction by Guns’n’Roses. Would you rather be a rocker than a country singer?

Brian: Haha…no I wouldn’t say I would rather be a rocker than a country singer. I was raised on country music in a small town, and that has been a huge part of who I am as an artist. In saying that, I love all styles of music. Rock, pop, metal, even classical. You can find little bits of each in my music, and if you see me live, you may even see the rocker in me a little.

FLYC: Why do you prefer country music – and what makes it better (at least as an artist) than rock music?

Brian: There isn’t one that’s better than the other. I love country because it has a story to it and I find that the listener can resonate with that a little more- at least I do. I love being able to tell a story with my writing. 

FLYC: Many people likely rather know you as one of the big names behind Kansas Stone. What does the collaboration with Matt Davey in that band mean to you?

Brian: Matt is one of my best friends and Kansas Stone is my baby. All the time spent on the road, in hotel rooms and onstage with him by my side have been some of the greatest moments of my musical career. No matter what happens with my solo career, Kansas Stone will always be a great outlet for Matt and I. I’m excited for the new music to come out this year.

FLYC: With Kansas Stone and a lot of other amazing artists, you had a very successful song, Together We’re Strong. Can you tell us a bit about the song?

Brian: I had the idea when we first went into quarantine. I called up my producer, Dustin Bird, and we wrote the song together. I then reached out to a lot of talented friends I met over the years touring with Kansas Stone. I am so blessed to call these artists my friends, and to have them be a part of this amazing project for a great cause. This is definitely one I will remember!

FLYC: I can’t name them all, but on that track you work with people like Clayton Bellamy, Cory Marks, Danielle Bourjeaurd and many more. How is it like to work with so many talented people on one song?

Brian: Honestly, I got to check off a lot of my dream collaborations off my list. I was so amazing to have the support of everyone and to be able to put this great song together with all of these incredibly talented artists. I am so glad to have the music video to look back on and remember what a great community the Canadian music industry is. 

FLYC: Since 2019, you also release music as a solo artist. What is the key difference to record as a solo artist compared to working with Kansas Stone?

Brian: The key difference is that my solo project is more personal to me. Kansas Stone is a collaboration of Matt and I. Being part of a duo like Kansas Stone is incredible, and we have built a brand and fan base which is true to Kansas Stone. Since being in quarantine and having to spend so much time at home on my own, I was able to write a lot and focus on a solo project.

Did you somehow “miss” your bandmates when you worked on solo stuff?

Brian: Of course! They are all my best friends. If you watch the music video for Hotter Than Summer, you will notice they are all in it with me. They all support my solo project and I love having them as a part of it.

FLYC: Your solo debut single was Take Back. What is that song about?

Brian: Take Back is all about a past relationship. No matter what the relationship was like at the time, as time passes you realize that you wouldn’t take back any of that relationship because it made you who you are today. Whether it was good or bad, it shaped who you ultimately have become.

FLYC: And then, there was Hotter Than Summer – I feel it is fair to call it your solo breakthrough track with over 110,000 streams on Spotify only. How is it like to see that so many people are consuming your music?

Brian: It’s incredible… I’m honestly blown away by the amount of support and love I have been receiving. This song just recently started getting airplay in Australia, and the music video added to CMT Australia. Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. Hotter Than Summer was released for fun, and its so amazing that it turns out to be the song guiding my music career.

FLYC: The song has a lot of summer vibes. When you wrote and recorded it – did you already feel that this could be a great one?

Brian: I actually wrote it for a Summer Song Competition. I saw this competition online, and thought I would try to do it. I ended up loving the song so much that I released it instead. I am so glad I did!

FLYC: The following single All That I Was Missing did not reach the same number of streams, but connected very well. What is that song about?

Brian: All That I Was Missing is about finding the love of my life. When I sat down to write this song, I already had in mind that I wanted to use it to propose to my girlfriend in the music video. If you haven’t seen it yet, go check it out-she said yes haha.  

FLYC: You are from Barrie, Ontario. I very often see that Canadian artists make it big in Canada, but not in the US – and vice versa, US artists struggle with the Canadian market. What is the key difference from your perspective between the country scenes?

Brian: That’s a really great question… when you find the answer please let me know haha

FLYC: Is there maybe some skill you feel you learn better in Nashville – or (again, vice versa) US country artists could learn from the Ontario / Canadian country scene?

Brian: I’m not sure about skill, but from personal experience in Nashville, there is more opportunity to collaborate with other writers. Nashville is music city-its filled with musicians, singers and songwriters. Everywhere you go, there is an opportunity to expand your own library of music. There is a creative energy in the air that makes you want to write. Every time I go there, its like recharging the battery.

FLYC: On 22nd January you released a new song, Getaway. What is the story of the song?

Brian: This song was written during the early stages of quarantine last year.  Anyone who knows me, knows I love the beach and travelling are two of my favorite things. I was stuck at home in isolation, and Laura was working full time at her job. When she came home one night after having a rough day, it inspired me that we can have our own little getaway right here at home. Even when things are feeling out of our control, it is possible to bring some light into our private worlds.

Getaway is meant to remind people to be positive and to always try to look on the bright side of things and create the magic you get from going to a tropical place right in your own living room. I wanted to be her getaway for a brief moment so she could forget about the day and smile.

FLYC: What was the writing of that song like?

Brian: I wrote this with my good friend Dustin Bird. We thought, let’s do a beach, staycation kind of love song. I’m glad we did it when we did, and how we did it.  It was my first co-write over the phone… not Zoom or FaceTime, just a regular phone call.

FLYC: I guess that it is currently hard to set detailed targets for the pandemic year 2021 – but what are your plans for this year?

Brian: I have a lot of new material to put out this year-both solo and with Kansas Stone. The longer we are stuck at home, the more writing I am doing. I would love to say I have a bunch of live shows, but only time will tell when that will be happening. 

FLYC: As is a travel blog as well, I just have to ask: if one is visiting Barrie – what should she/he definitely not miss when being in the city?

Brian: I would suggest visiting our waterfront. We are blessed with a beautiful waterfront that has a really cool sculpture called The Spirit Catcher. What I like to do in the summer is go to the rooftop at Hooligans Restaurant and look over the entire bay while having a cold beverage.

FLYC: My last questions connects to the first one: Which act would you rather be a support act for – Guns’N’Roses or Keith Urban?

Brian: Either one would be a dream come true! As much as I want to say Guns ‘N’ Roses to live out a childhood dream, I can picture myself getting along with Keith Urban. He really seems like a fun, down to earth guy that I would connect so well with. Both of their music has definitively influenced me as a musician, but I would have to choose Keith, and hopefully be able to write a song with him…fingers crossed.


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