Not everyone can get away with wearing lavender nail polish in their post-college gig. Though, if you’ve got an EP that debuted at no. 5 on the Billboard Heatseekers charts, plus a spot playing keyboards and singing background for Owl City; the bright, youthful color suits life perfectly.
Breanne Düren can claim all those things, nails included. Sitting in a Starbucks in Nashville, Tennessee, just a few hours before kicking off a two-month tour of the U.S. with synth-pop act Owl City, Düren is feeling optimistic and excited. Touring means a new city everyday and later in the year, international dates. She’ll even be opening in select cities.
“I never thought I would play my own songs for Jakarta, Indonesia. That’s just insane to me,” Düren says.
Her EP is Sparks, a five-song album recorded last November with producer Mike Daly. Düren says it speaks to the innocence and awe of finding herself doing the very thing she’s wanted to do for most of her life: play music.
The Minnesota native took voice and piano lessons as a child. She played coffee shops in high school, but her lucky break came in college. Elsewhere in Minnesota, Adam Young, the mastermind behind Owl City, was looking for a girl to sing on a track he was working on in his parents’ basement and a mutual friend recommended Düren for the job.
“A year later I ended up recording those songs again because they were being re-released in his official, first label release,” Düren says. “When he was putting his touring band together, he knew that I played keyboards as well, so it made sense.”
Setting out on tour in promotion of Owl City’s Ocean Eyes had its lucky side effects. Düren wrote Sparks while on the road, an environment perfect for someone who draws inspiration from chaos.
“All that excitement, the epicness of the whole thing was certainly translated into the songs,” she says. The experience was brand new; “It [was] all sparkly and bright.”
Düren finds that vocal melodies and lyrical ideas come at the most inconvenient times, whether it’s during a rehearsal or her day-to-day activities.
“Even last night, I was literally folding my laundry with the TV on in the background and I’m writing these melodies and getting these ideas and having to quick sketch them down,” she says.
That’s why Düren’s goal for the new Owl City tour is to write her first full-length album. “It sounds ambitious, but I’m so excited,” she says.
The youthful and ebullient vibes that come through on Sparks, especially on songs like the retro, girl group-powered “Gold Mine,” won’t necessarily change, but perhaps be a bit tempered by the added few years of life experience. Emotions stirred up by relationships and classic questions that come with being a twenty-something, will all go into her next album.
“I feel like it’s just going to feel like a natural progression,” she says.
For now, Düren is still feeling solid about Sparks. Besides “Gold Mine,” which Entertainment Weekly recently recommended for Adele fans, she notes “No One Else” as a point of pride.
“It was this little ditty I had, that I wrote on the road with Owl City. The chorus was stuck in my head. I kept coming back to it,” she says of the song that tells of traveling around the world and still coming back to that one person. “I’ve been around the world, I’ve seen a lot of faces, can’t count how many places, around the world. But I leave them all alone, first chance I get I hope you know, I’m going to call you from my telephone,” as the track goes.
After launching from the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Owl City will make its way across the country. At the start of the show, Düren quietly slips on stage with her fellow band mates amid mellow blue lights. These days she’s got a thought for what’s to come: “Just keep the chaos going.”