Dean Brody is fast becoming a favourite in Australia.
The Canadian country star has charmed audiences with his two appearances at CMC Rocks - his wonderfully visual songs leading audiences to hang off of his every word.
Brody has just released his latest album, Crop Circles, and CMC caught up with him on the phone to discuss making cool film clips at hot locations; why he prefers singing his own songs; why some finished songs sound nothing like when you started them; and what drove him to start doing amazing charity work in Brazil.
CMC: Your new record Crop Circles has been out for a couple of weeks now – what’s the reception been like? Have you got much of a response from fans and critics?
DB: Yeah, I don’t take much into the critics but the fans have been really great. I try and stay away from the negative stuff. I’m hard enough on myself; I don’t need someone else telling me I’m not good. But the fans have been great. I’m really lucky to have the fan base I do.
The new clip for ‘Bounty’ is fantastic. Where did you shoot it and how did that all come together?
The video was shot on a movie ranch outside of LA. Apparently Tarantino has done some stuff there too and it looks like a border town. Man it was hot, it was like 40 degrees and I had three layers of clothes on and a wool hat and wool pants and boots, so the biggest challenge of the day was just getting through the heat. I’m sure you guys know what that’s all about, but it was a lot of fun in the end.
Yeah it must have been tough to get that old style look if you had to wear all those clothes.
Yeah I tried to talk to the stylist and was like, “You know, I could just wear a tank top,” and they was “No, no, back in the day, in the ‘30s, they wore all these layers and you gotta be wearing them too and be authentic.” People believe in the authenticity of wearing hot stuff.
That song in particular ‘Bounty’ has some really interesting production elements and is a bit of a headphone masterpiece in terms of it’s got some really rich textures. Is that something you set out to do with this record? Make it a bit of a listening experience?
Yeah, I think that’s definitely what my producer tries to do, Matt Rovey. He pulls it off every time and he’s a fan of music and sound so he’s the one behind all that and a lot of that, which you hear, he’s very passionate about how it sounds.
You tell really rich and complex stories in your songs – Bounty is a perfect example of that. Where do you find inspiration for your song writing? Are you seized by the moment when you write or do you have time set away to sit down and write?
I think I’m maybe a visual writer. A lot of what I write is what I imagine and see. I think that’s a big part of my writing, is if I can see a story then I try and write it.
It’s a rare trait in modern country for a successful singer songwriter to actually write their own songs but you write the majority of your own work. Is that somewhat of a badge of honour for you that when you put out a record it’s all your own work?
Yeah and for me it’s almost a comfort thing for me now. It used to be that I wanted to sing other people’s songs because I wasn’t really comfortable singing my own stuff. I didn’t think it was that good. But lately it’s become the reverse kind of thing. Other people’s songs I don’t feel quite as comfortable singing because I don’t feel like they come from me. So, I just try and write stuff that I can share with people and hopefully we can connect on that level. I really enjoy writing for my fans.
Have you had a chance to play many of the songs from the record live yet and if so how have they gone down?
‘Bounty’ is going really well right now. There seems to be a lot of energy in the crowd when we got to that one. And then also I can’t wait for ‘Crop Circles’. Me and the guys have worked that one up a little bit and I can’t wait to dig that one out too, it’s a lot of fun.
Are there any songs on the album you’re particularly proud of? It may not have been one of the big singles but something you might have spent a lot of time working on?
There’s a song called ‘Marianne’ on there that’s kind of a little bit different. It kind of starts really simple but then it gets bigger and bigger but there’s something about that song that takes me away when I listen to it. And it was one that we kind of had to wrestle with in the studio to try and hone in on it. Sometimes when you first start to write a song it can end up different to when you get to the end of the session. You’ve totally changed the vibe of it and that happened with ‘Marianne.’
I was interested to read about the Dean Brody Foundation. It was something I didn’t know about you before. What made you start the foundation and what made you take particular interest in that cause?
I read a book called Remember Me, Recue Me and it was by a British journalist who’d spent seven years in Brazil and he documents in really tragic detail how girls are exploited in just the worst ways. Child prostitution is rampant in Brazil – second only to Thailand. After I read the book I was blown away, so I contacted the author and said, “Man, is there something we can do about this?” and he said, “Yeah!” So we started a house that reaches out to these girls and have a staff of Brazilian nationals that reach out to them and it’s a really complex and multi-layered problem, but I’m really excited about where we’re headed.
You were only in Oz a few months ago for CMC Rocks the Hunter, but now you’ve got a new record out, when can we hope to see you again?
I’m not sure. I think 2014 is pretty jammed already. Management and booking would know that answer. I don’t know where I am two months from now, so who knows. Maybe it is next year or maybe it’s the year after, but I’d love to come back some time.
And when can the Country Music Channel look forward to some more great videos off of this record? Have you got anything in the pipeline?
We’re going to be working in about two weeks on ‘Crop Circles’ so that should be pretty fun and kind of psychedelic. We’re going to have fun with that one.
Words: Nathan Wood
Dean Brody's new album Crop Circles is available now.