Brody opens up Dirt on his past
Timing for Canadian country songwriter/singer Dean Brody is everything.
Timing in his music, his cadence while penning his latest hit and timing as in it was days between him turning away from pursuing music to settle in for a job at a coal mine. After giving up on songwriting in Nashville, Brody returned to B.C. at a crossroads.
“We had gone back and forth from Nashville to Canada so many times it had just gotten exhausting. I remember being in B.C. and I called my producer and said, ‘Man I just can’t do this anymore. I have a family and I need to be responsible.’ I told him there is a coal mine that is hiring right now and I have some friends there and I think I can get on. I said, ‘I’m done, I can’t do this to my family anymore.’” said Brody in a phone interview from his home in Nova Scotia. “The next day he called back and said if you aren’t working at a mine just yet, I have a record deal for you.”
The perfect storm had brewed and Brody returned exhausted from struggling to make it in Nashville and found himself back working at the same sawmill he was employed at as a teenager, pondering an offer at the coal mines. The call from Broken Bow Records led him south again for another five years. After his self-titled debut broke the top 25 in the U.S. and top 10 in Canada earning him a Canadian Country Music Award for single of the year, he settled back in Canada, inking a deal with Open Road Recordings in 2009. Since then, he has become known for his signature brand of image-driven storytelling in his songs — what you would expect from a guy who puts the songwriter credit ahead of the singer one.
“I approach music from a songwriting point of view. I moved to Nashville to become a songwriter and I had no idea I would eventually be the one singing the songs from the end of the stage,” admits Brody.
While he loved to sing, his introverted nature made it a big jump from sitting at home scribbling lyrics on paper he stuffs into his guitar case and jotting down ideas on his iPad to having a spotlight beamed on him on stage. Writing, however, came more naturally. First inspired when he was just 14 going through a break-up.
“My songs were really bad, but they were from the heart and that is what really matters,” Brody says with a laugh. “That’s what matters. You have to be vulnerable and it is tough when you start out because I was terrible at songwriting. As you gain more life experience your writing naturally becomes better because you have more to draw from.”
Judging by the bumpy roads life has thrown at him, Brody shouldn’t fear writer’s block anytime soon. His latest album Dirt, which he is touring across Canada on, is a reflection of where he came from.
“When I was in Nashville it was very systematic. You wrote from a certain hour of the day until the evening and you do that everyday with weekends off. I burned out really fast with that method. For me, I need a lot of space and I need to actually go watch a movie, go to the ocean or go for a drive. Those are the kinds of things that inspire me to be creative,” he said.
From rocking, foot-stomping songs like the lead single from Dirt, Canadian Girls to It’s Friday, Brody brings it down with love songs like Losing My Balance co-written with George Canyon and the imagery of Rural Route #3 and Underneath The Apple Tree (which he recently finished wrapping a video for). Songs that bring this introverted cowboy to a more vulnerable place.
“I think that is important. You try and let those listening to you experience as close as possible what it is like for you as a musician to play your songs, and being vulnerable is part of that,” said Brody. “It’s the toughest part, but it’s also the most rewarding because you really get to connect with the people.”
Brody, who was the 2012 CCMA best male artist and won the album of the year title, is at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on Saturday, Jan. 26 with opening act Small Town Pistols. Tickets are general admission ($39.50 plus taxes/fees) and available at the SOEC box office, the visitor centre, by phone at 1-877-763-2849 or online here.