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Shine's CatchUp with Brett Dennen

Singer/songwriter Brett Dennen
Singer/songwriter Brett Dennen

Welcome to Shine's CatchUp, a new feature where WFPK host Laura Shine catches up with musicians about their music, new albums, or whatever they've recently been up to.

Singer/Songwriter Brett Dennen leads a great life and a lot of that has to do with his great attitude about it. When he sees something that needs to change, he jumps in and does what he can to change it. He's an avid conservationist and believes in spreading the message of saving the earth one town at a time. His tours often end up in beautiful places across the world where he dives into educating the communities where he plays on things that people can do to help save and preserve their natural surroundings. He and his family also host Camp Dennen where they invite folks and their families to rest, play, and commune with nature. His music is often positive and uplifting. His latest single is a hopeful mantra called "This is Going to Be The Year". I spoke with Brett about the new song, what it means to him, and what he's been up to lately.

Hi Brett! Love the new song "This is Going to Be The Year" and wondered what inspired it?
Thank you. Well, I had the idea to write a song to sing on New Years Eve. I was working on a holiday EP and it occurred to me that there aren't enough New Years songs. But when the song was finished it just felt like it wasn't a holiday song. It felt and sounded more like a song of hope. A song for any kind of beginning. I think when you start something, there's nothing but potential and it feels like the sky is the limit. That's what the song means to me now.

Can you tell us about the animated video for the new song and how that came to be?
I had an idea for a video animated kind of like the Red Bull commercials where the cartoon is really simple and there is a guy who starts out walking and eventually he ends up flying. We pitched the idea to an animator (Franky Wish) and he came back with a completely different idea that was better. So we let him run with it and I'm really happy with what he did.

You put out a holiday album this past season called Brett Dennen's Christmas Vol. 1. This is the first holiday album you've ever released in the many years you've been making music. What inspired you to do a holiday album?
A lot of people. Seriously. People have been telling me for years to do it and I finally took their advice. I'm going to do more in the years to come. Someday I will have several volumes out that you can just play on repeat until you get sick of it. The plan is to always have a mix of traditional songs mixed with songs I write for the holidays, aka "new classics".

You're getting ready for a tour this Spring. What are you looking forward to about it?
I'm looking forward to traveling. Going places and seeing new things. I've been getting back into running. I quit running a long time ago, but I've been at it again and I plan on bringing my running shoes with me. I'm also looking forward to being antsy backstage, connecting with audiences, staying up late, being goofy onstage, and living out of a suitcase.

Being a former camper, I noticed something called "Camp Dennen" on your website. You have your own Camp?? Please tell us about it!
It's a long weekend retreat for people. They can bring their kids too. We hold it in the mountains of California, but someday we will do them all over. People come to unplug and connect with nature and the other participants. We make a little community together and through our shared experience, we will be connected forever. Even if we never see each other ever again, we will always have something in common. We go on hikes, paint together, have family meals, play, explore, and sing songs around a campfire. It's awesome for me because I get to be a campfire director, a campfire songleader, and I get to hang out with cool people in the mountains.

Check out the animated video for "This is Going To Be The Year" below. The song is now streaming everywhere.

Laura is the afternoon host from 3-6 pm weekdays. Email Laura at lshine@lpm.org