Dean Brody: The RD Interview

Country music superstar Dean Brody talks about his new album, what life is like in Nashville and giving back through his foundation.

Country singer Dean BrodyCourtesy: Dean Brody

15 Minutes with Dean Brody

Reader’s Digest: On your new album, Beautiful Freakshow, you incorporate different styles like rap and pop. Is experimentation something you think about before working on a new record?

Dean Brody: Because of all the influences I have, I probably should think of keeping myself within boundaries. But when I write a song, I’m just singing along with a guitar and not thinking about it. I write about what’s fun and what’s on my mind. This record definitely has traditional country, but production-wise, it’s really cinematic. The title track, for example, was inspired by Quentin Tarantino. It’s almost like a movie of his in song-form.

Unlike most country singers, you write your songs alone without co-writers. How come?

I co-wrote with people in Nashville for six years, but I’m more comfortable by myself. When I’m in a room with people, my ideas don’t stick. Because I’m quiet by nature, I just ended up going home and writing my own songs. It’s a real personal thing for me to take a song from nothing and make it something.

You performed a song called “Time” at the CCMAs. What’s the inspiration behind it?

I read a quote that’s often credited to Buddha – “the trouble is you think you have time.” There’s so much packed into that small little phrase, and there’s a lot of different chapters in life you could write about that speak to that quote. We think we have tomorrow or the next ten years, but we work so hard to survive, and it’s easy to get caught up in the business of life and forget about people. We need to slow down and take time.

Speaking of the CCMAs, you’ve won your share of awards over the years. Do award shows make you uncomfortable or have you grown to like them?

A little of both. I’m certainly uncomfortable making speeches, but at the same time, it’s exciting. I have a team of around 60 people that work on my behalf and that are behind-the-scenes, so I feel like I’m winning one for the team and that it’s something they could be proud of. I understand the world of awards is sometimes political, as are a lot of things out there, but it’s meaningful for sure.

You’ve been across Canada on several tours. What’s your favourite part about that experience?

I love being able to see our whole country in a compressed amount of time. We’re in a different town every day, sometimes multiple cities. It gives you a real appreciation for how diverse we are, geographically and culturally. It’s almost like a bird’s eye view. And in that short and intense amount of time, you’re in contact with locals, and you’re invited to community places and parties!

You live in rural Nova Scotia. How does it compare to life in Nashville?

It’s a lot warmer, that’s for sure. I just got back from Arizona and we were walking around cotton fields with our shirts off, and now I’m all bundled up in Vancouver. Nashville is a great place where everyone comes to learn. It’s almost like a green house. You’re surrounded by people who are weird like you, and in a small town, you might not have people around you can make music with. Going to Nashville gets my fire going.

You’ve established the Dean Brody Foundation, which helps in the rescue and rehabilitation of young girls who are victims of human trafficking. Can you talk about how that came to be?

I read a book called Remember Me, Rescue Me by Matt Roper, a British journalist. He spent seven years in Brazil, living in different towns where these girls were exploited in the sex trade. I was really moved by the book and said, “Hey, Matt, is there anything we can do?” He said, “I know a lot of amazing Brazilian nationals who would love to have the ability and the funds to help.” We now work with both girls and boys, their families and entire towns – it’s multi-layered.

As someone who comes from a country and folk background, how do you feel about Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize in Literature? 

Music is a special medium and such a big part of our culture. When you match music with words and a narrative that people can connect with, the combination can be a powerful thing.

Dean Brody’s new album, Beautiful Freakshow, is available now.