The only thing more laid-back than Brett Dennen’s acoustic tunes is the man himself. Between touring music, creating art, and making wine, Dennen lives the “life’s good” lifestyle we all wish we could channel into our own lives.
Currently on tour, Dennen took time out of his busy schedule to speak with me about eating well on tour, painting, and the connection between wine and music.
Spoon: How did you get started making wine?
BD: I got talked into the business by a friend of mine who’s in the wine industry. He’s been a writer for a wine magazine for a while, and has a family vineyard and label. He talked me into it. I mean, I’ve also been a wine lover, but didn’t think I could be a winemaker. He told me it was doable if I aligned myself with the right people. Then, last year we released our first wine and this year we released our second.
Spoon: So, you’re a wine connoisseur then?
BD: I am, but nothing I can really brag about. I haven’t read a ton about it. I just know what I like.
Spoon: Where, for you, is the connection between making music and making wine?
BD: For me, I think they go together very well. Wine changes the longer you drink it. As you sip, it kind of transforms right in front of you, and I think a song can do the same thing. As you listen, it can take on new meaning. The most realistic connection for me is, drinking wine inspires words, [which] inspires music.
Spoon: You’re currently on tour. What do you look for in food when you travel? Are there certain places you stop or foods you bring with you?
BD: On tour, we bring a blender and a juicer with fruits and vegetables for smoothies. In terms of going out to eat, we usually try to stay true to whatever region we are in. If we are in Seattle for example, I like to seek out seafood, whereas if I’m in New Mexico, I’ll seek out New Mexican cuisine.
Spoon: You were born and raised on the West Coast, but because of touring you visit both sides of the country. Do you have a preference for the East Coast or West Coast?
BD: For food, I definitely prefer the West Coast. I really like farm-fresh ingredients and simple, rustic California cuisine. I eat mostly vegetables, so I like the influence that the ocean and Mexico has on Californian cuisine.
Spoon: Getting to your music, this is your sixth studio album. How is this album different than your previous releases?
BD: It’s definitely more vulnerable. That was really the only goal. I wasn’t thinking about trying to make something that everybody would like. I wasn’t thinking about trying to make something that would get played on the radio. I was just trying to express myself.
I think, lyrically, it’s very vulnerable because it’s very open and honest, but musically it’s stripped down. It’s all very minimal and based around the acoustic guitar, which I think is very vulnerable as well. I just wanted something that was pure, without a lot of filler or a lot of stuff.
Spoon: I might have been stalking your Instagram, and saw all the art that you create. How do you decide what to paint?
BD: Everything on Instagram is watercolor, and watercolor is a very limiting medium for me. You have to work very fast. Once you put pigment down on white paper, the white is gone and you can’t really work backwards. So, because of that, it lends itself to painting images that are very simple. Painting people works best for me because I can use a lot of color in their outfits and keep a very blank background.
Spoon: Between your art, your music, and even your wine, it seems like you’re very in touch with the emotional side to creation.
BD: Music and art and wine are all connected to emotion, and memory as well. There is a lot of nostalgia.
Dying to see Brett Dennen live? Check out his tour dates and grab your tickets now.