• The Basement Tapes: Breanne Düren

    Breanne Düren just released her debut EP, “Sparks”, and is now the opening act for Owl City’s “All Things Bright and Beautiful World Tour.” Düren sights the excitement of touring with Owl City as inspiration for her EP. (Photo Illustration)
    Breanne Düren just released her debut EP, “Sparks”, and is now the opening act for Owl City’s “All Things Bright and Beautiful World Tour.” Düren sights the excitement of touring with Owl City as inspiration for her EP. (Photo Illustration)

    Seated in a blue armchair, tuning her guitar, pop singer-songwriter Breanne Düren doesn’t look like a celebrity, much less an opening act for Owl City’s All Things Bright and Beautiful World Tour. Her smiling eyes, Midwestern accent and buttery voice are just some of the immediate charms of her bubbly, yet down-to-earth personality.

    While in Austin for her Wednesday night performance with Owl City at ACL Live, Breanne Düren performed two songs from her debut EP, Sparks, for The Daily Texan’s music blog series, The Basement Tapes. She shared with the Texan her thoughts on working with Adam Young of Owl City (whom she has toured and performed with twice), being a young pop artist and the inspirations behind her music.

    Daily Texan: Can you tell me what’s the inspiration behind Sparks?
    Breanne Düren: I wrote the EP while I was on tour with Owl City, within the first couple years of doing that. And it was a really, really new experience for me. I had never toured before. I was able to travel to all these places that I had never dreamed of ever being able to see in real life. Meeting a bunch of new people. Being able to just have the incredible experience at such a young age that it was all really exciting, I think that excitement and energy was put into the songs I wrote. And so there’s definitely energy to it and innocence to it.

    DT: So what is it like working with Adam?
    BD: Oh my gosh, it’s been amazing. He is so talented. He is one of the most down-to-earth people I’ve ever met in my life. He’s just a great, humble, nice guy as well so it’s just a fun tour to be on. Everyone on the tour is great and we’re all really close friends and we’re just one big tour family.

    DT: What are some highlights of that first tour for you?
    BD: There had been some many incredible moments. We were able to play at
    Madison Square Garden. It was the Jingle Ball in 2009 and we were playing with a bunch of these huge pop stars — Justin Beiber, Taylor Swift, John Mayer and all these other artists. We were able to play a song, one song, and it was just a magical experience. I have been able to see places all over the world. Once we had a day off in Beijing and we were able to climb the Great Wall of China, so that was another moment of sort of “pinch me, is this actually my real life?”

    DT: Are you working on an LP right now?
    BD: Yeah, I am! Being on tour is a great environment for me to write. There’s a lot of creative energy floating around. I’ve already started recording some demos. Hopefully by early next year maybe we’ll be spending time in the studio or start wrapping up the full length.

    DT: What are some inspirations behind the materials you’re writing?
    BD: It’s definitely going to feel like an actual progression from the Sparks EP ... just the experiences I’ve had in these couple years that I’ve been living and growing. Just some bitter questions such as what does my future look like? What do I want for myself? And also, relationship things. They are always the first things I write about.

    Printed on Thursday, July 28, 2011 as: Pop artist possess 'Sparks' of inspiration

  • Weekend Recs: Ballet Austin, Vintage Vibe, Jazz Quintet, and Joanna Newsom

    In honor of the second annual National Dance Day, Ballet Austin is hosting classes for dancers of all levels, with choreography developed by “So You Think You Can Dance” and celebrity choreographers.

    WHAT: Ballet Austin’s National Dance Day 2011 Classes
    WHEN: July 30, all day (check schedule for class times)
    WHERE: Ballet Austin’s Butler Dance Education Center
    HOW MUCH: $5 minimum donation per class

    Vintage designers and boutiques — including Black Swan Theory, Goodie Two Shoes and Dog & Pony — will be showcasing pieces along with cheap drinks and complimentary massages and hair styling.

    WHAT: Vintage Vibe Two trunk show
    WHEN: July 30, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
    WHERE: Volstead Lounge
    HOW MUCH: Free

    Local jazz luminaries, who were featured in the 2006 documentary “Before the Music Dies,” will bring their crowd-pleasing horns to the Elephant Room.

    WHAT: Ephraim Owens Quintet
    WHEN: July 30, 9:30 p.m.
    WHERE: The Elephant Room
    HOW MUCH: $5

    The folk songstress and classically-trained harpist returns to Austin to perform from her musically ornate new album, Have One on Me.

    WHAT: Joanna Newsom
    WHEN: July 31, 7 p.m.
    WHERE: Paramount Theatre
    HOW MUCH: $33

  • Art in Translation: Canvassing the streets of Paris for art

    Adjacent from an old cathedral in Paris is well-known French street artist Jean-François Perroy’s composition of a bewildered man.
    Adjacent from an old cathedral in Paris is well-known French street artist Jean-François Perroy’s composition of a bewildered man.

    Bonjour from Paris!

    I barely had time to write this post. I’ve been ducking in and out of art museums and eating and drinking to my heart’s content, but no need to worry about my health — I’ve walked so much I can’t feel my feet.

    I had my hesitations about Paris. I have always dreamed of coming here and I was worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype. Wrong. Without sounding like every other girl on the planet — I am absolutely in love with everything about it.

    While the amount of art here is making my heart swell (My favorite sculpture, Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, is literally two blocks away from my family’s apartment at the Centre Pompidou!), I am always captivated by the way such old cities embrace cultural innovation.

    Until now, when I thought about the juxtaposition between classic and contemporary, my mind always went to New York City. However, after seeing such large-scale street art immersed throughout Paris, I may have to change my mind.

    I have seen so much art, but as I have left my handy copyright guide in the states and my Internet connection is sparse, I will be sharing my thoughts on the very first piece of art I saw upon arrival. Brace yourselves; Today, we’re looking at street art.

    This unnamed piece is actually by a well-known urban stencil artist named Jean-François Perroy, who tags his work ‘Jef Aerosol.’ Starting in the early ‘80s, he became an integral player in the first generation of street artists who elevated the style to a higher art. In other words, this isn’t just another neighborhood tag.

    I love this piece first for its scale. I don’t have exact measurements but the thing must be at least 50 feet tall. It struck me most because it is adjacent to an old cathedral, giving the piece a fascinating contrast between this bold, contemporary statement and the traditional French architectural landscape.

    A cropped black and white profile of man’s face, with a finger to his lips and his eyes bulging, forefronts a rainbow backdrop of splattering spots. His bulging eyes and their haunting expression are what draw you — equal parts cautionary and anxious. A red arrow pointing to the eye closest to the viewer suggests the viewer should focus on the emotion coming out of the eye.

    Street art is meant to be seen while on the go. The artist does not often expect people to stop and ponder the piece for long periods of time.

    Though this art style has been utilized internationally for several decades now, many people still don’t see it as art. That’s why it is so refreshing to see a city as old and historically rich as Paris protecting (and sometimes fencing off) such innovative creative works alongside their iconic classic treasures.

    Has any street art caught your eye?

    Until next time, au revoir! (I can barely pronounce that — did I mention I don’t speak any French at all?)

  • Garage Sale Review: Sunday morning garage sales

    Early morning Sunday garage sales can be hard to handle, especially if you went to 6th Street the night before like Gillian Rhodes did.
    Early morning Sunday garage sales can be hard to handle, especially if you went to 6th Street the night before like Gillian Rhodes did.

    Editor’s note: All photos were taken by Gillian Rhodes, Daily Texan Staff.

    Yo yo yo!

    Welcome to The Garage Sale Review! This entry, friends, marks Gillian and I’s seventh journey into the underbelly of Austin’s odds-and-ends culture. That means we’re straight-up grown-ups in yard sale years! Maturity — so exciting! In honor of graduating to hard-core, level 99, adult garage sale blogger status, we decided to make this coming-of-age post a very special one indeed. No, we didn’t host our own garage sale (that requires some granddaddy garage sale hero experience), but we did tackle a Herculean task almost as intense. We went garage selling on Sunday.

    Now, Sunday garage sales are wild, rabid beasts compared to garage sales on other days. On Saturdays, garage sales are a dime-a-dozen and it’s not too tough to wrangle up some interesting items for stories and photo-ops. Sundays, however, will eat you for breakfast if you don’t have the proper training. Garage sales on the Lord’s Day are the picked-over, chewed-up leftovers from Saturday yard sales. It’s a challenge to find the juicy stuff, so you’ve got to bring your A game. But get ready, people, because we brung it.

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    4703 Sagebrush Circle

    The morning started off with Gillian and I hoppin’ in my car and Gillian immediately yelling at me to pull over so she could puke. She had a tough night last night at Rio Rita’s and was paying for it this morning. I hit the emergency flashers, pulled to the side of the road, let her do the thing and took pictures. When she was “done” I asked her if she wanted me to take her home and I would fly a solo Sunday mission, but, she being the garage sale champion that she is, she wiped the vomit off of her face and pointed to the rugged road ahead.

    The first garage sale we checked out was being run by Danae. Danae’s garage sale was overloaded with baby stuff, which usually implies the turn, turn, turning of passing seasons and children growing up and their parents selling their old, saliva-crusted chew toys. With Danae, however, the baby toys and clothes that she was selling were just a bunch of stuff that her stepmother gave her to sell.

    She also had a bunch of knickknacks for sale. There was a hookah for $20 that she doesn’t use anymore, an old bicycle horn and an Insane Clown Posse action figure. I asked if she considered herself an I.C.P fan and she looked down and admitted that she used to be when she was younger. Wow! A reformed Juggalo! You don’t run into one of those everyday. I gave Danae a chance to explain her old I.C.P tendencies and she said that she grew out of the band. “So now I’m just kind of like ‘take this stuff away.’” Danae said. “I don’t know what happened.”

    7311 Scenic Oaks Circle

    This was a unique garage sale in that it was being held as a benefit for the garage seller’s boyfriend, who passed away a couple of weeks ago. Tish was selling the stuff so she could give some of the proceeds to the family. She didn’t want to be photographed, but she said it’d be OK if we checked out what she had for sale.

    Also, Tish was very proud of her garage sale sign placement. She said that she had made sure to put helpful signs on busy intersections that effectively directed people to her garage sale. I have to admit, Tish was right. Her signs were quite clear and helpful. It’s nice to run into a garage seller who really cares.

    We found some interesting ceramics (leftovers from a neighbor’s garage sale) like that cute little squirrel and that cute little peeing dog and a nice little rock collection, but the real treasure was the box of cassette tapes in the backyard.

    There were some truly golden-oldies in the box, so Gillian and I dove right in and came up with some great finds. An Air Supply’s greatest hits tape was there along with Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton and even good ol’ Bill Cosby. Talk about some heavenly tunes! If you’re listening to our garage sale music montage, you don’t need me to tell you.

    We were about to head out when we ran into Helene, a fellow garage seller and a redhead to boot! Helene approached me with no hesitation whatsoever and gave me a friendly “Oh, a fellow redhead.” Whoa! Helene definitely knew just what to say to warm my heart and make my acquaintance. We exchanged heritage stats (standard protocol when redheads meet) and I found out Helene is a Russian redhead (she said I look like I’ve got some Scandinavian ginger in me). I asked her if she’d be interested in telling me a little about her garage selling experiences and she said she would be glad to help. That’s the best part about yard sales — the friendly people who share each other’s passion for cheap crap. The common interest connection is enough to give me goose bumps.

    “I love [garage selling],” Helena said. “It’s like a treasure hunt. You never know what you’ll find. Yesterday I went out and found a beautiful end table. It would go for like 90 or 100 dollars for sure and I got it for 15.”

    1104 Austin Heights Blvd.

    Our next garage sale stop brought us to the yard of Yohan and Elisa. This garage sale had caught our eye because it was a rare “Sunday only” model. It takes a strong-spirited garage seller to brave the treacherous waters of a Sunday-exclusive garage sale, so there was no way we could pass it up. I asked them why they chose to defy garage sale logic and Elisa said that it was simply a matter of not being able to get off of work in time to make it happen on Saturday. Risky business, I say, but Gillian and I wished them well.

    The couple had some nice items for sale, including some international fare from Greece and China, a cool owl, a wine glass from a 1992 prom and a bunch of old VHS tapes. Yohan told me that a garage sale shark, which, as Yohan delicately put it, is one of “the old men who show up at like 6 a.m.,” had snatched up the only old porno tape he had, but he assured me there were still some good movies available. He was right, and for $1 each there were definitely some steals. Also, we found a garage sale kitty that, according to Elisa, had just started hanging out earlier that morning when they were setting up. There’s nothing like a photo of a cute garage sale kitty to boost blog traffic.

    1716 Bissel Lane

    Our final stop of the morning was Gary’s garage sale. Gary owns a floor covering business and he was selling a lot of mint-condition power tools to help him make some money to pay rent and bills. Gary said that his business had dropped off to the point that he was considering moving to a different city where the rent wasn’t so high, but in the meantime he was selling his tools at 25 percent of what he paid for them. He wasn’t very excited about having to sell his equipment, but he said that he didn’t have another choice. Chin up, Gary! The tools were in great condition, so hopefully somebody scooped them up and gave Gary some quick cash for them after we left.

    Gary was also very into rockin’ music, judging by his extensive rock cassette tape collection (we grabbed The Cars, Creed and a few other can’t-miss tapes) and also his $4000 drum kit (that he was selling for $2000).

    OK, you guys, we’re glad y’all could make it out this week. Tune in next time because garage selling is cool!