Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Dennis Florine

Artist Interview: 1-on-1 with Dennis FlorineI have never met him, but I want to. His look, just from the very start, has me captivated. He has this certain west coast mentality about him with the dusty blond hair and the sun kissed tan. But then you throw a guitar in his hands, and well, that’s all she wrote. Writing original tunes that make you sing along, and some that make you throw a lighter up in the air, he has a great control over his listeners. Being from the Midwest has neither helped nor hurt his career, but he is slowly making fans all across the country. He sings with heart, and with a dose of passion, and you can feel it in every single chord. I have become friends with him over the web and am excited to have him with us here today. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the one, the only Mr. Dennis Florine.

So how do you pronounce your last name?

It is pronounced, “Floor-een.”

How long have you been performing?

I have been a performer for the last thirteen years, starting when I was only ten years old.  I began as an actor, and picked up music along the way.  I have been performing my music professionally for the past four years.

Tell me your first memory of the guitar.

I remember the first time I got blisters on my fingers, and wondering what the heck I was doing wrong.  I was playing on a cheap acoustic I had bought off a friend for $80, and the action on it was ridiculously high.  I had no idea what I was doing, so figured all guitars were like this.  It ended up being a great tool, however, because then when I played on a quality guitar, I was able to appreciate it a lot more.

Do you have a job outside of music?

I am an actor as well as a musician, so I flip back and forth between the two to make money.  Currently, I am living in Iowa City, working with the Riverside Shakespeare Festival on the shows, Love’s Labour’s Lost and Romeo and Juliet.

Where are you originally from?

I am from Palatine, Illinois.

So are you a Cubs fan or a White Sox fan?

I am a Sox fan.

Do you have a favorite venue?

Goose Island in Chicago has been one of my favorites lately; coincidentally, the city is tearing it down and building a strip mall in place of it.  Way to go Chicago!

What is the biggest crowd you have ever played for?

4,500 in WCA conference in Dusseldorf, Germany.

The smallest?

(Laughs) Definitely have played to an empty house, unless you want to count bar tenders.

Tell me about the Illinois Shakespeare Festival.

I played for the Illinois Shakespeare Festival two years ago after writing some music for a Shakespeare play I was in.  The first gig with them was a troubadour job, walking around the festival yard playing Shakespeare songs that I wrote to a folk/pop/rock style.  I really enjoyed my time at the festival, so the next year I auditioned for them, and ended up landing an acting job with them.  I am playing there again this year, doing my own show of Shakespeare music on July 18th.

You toured in eight countries over seas. Tell me about that experience.

Europe was a trip, to say the least.  The traveling was not intended to be a tour, but I ended up playing everywhere I went.  I did a lot of busking, and played in some coffeehouses, bars, even at an Irish birthday party.  It was a real adventure, and I plan on heading over again within the next year.

What is your favorite city to visit?

In the states, I love Table Rock Lake, Missouri in the Ozarks.  This is my favorite city to visit, aside from touring.  Overseas, I really enjoyed Palermo, Italy.  It is the most beautiful city I have ever been to.

If you could live anywhere else in the world where would you go?

This answer changes every day, but right now I would love to go stay in Ireland for a period of time.

I see you played a show with a good friend of mine, Fred Shafer. What was that like? And how sick is he live?

Fred is a wonderful soul.  We met five years ago at a campsite in Indiana; he was on tour at the time, and I was out to see Dave Matthews with my girlfriend at the time, and her family.  We hung out the next night after his show, and we played together around the fire.  So intimate, but a wonderful experience; he has a great heart, and it shows in every note his sings.

Since that time, I’ve only been able to meet up with Fred a handful of times; life as an artist is very touch and go, and so even though he will always be a brother, we do not see each other often.  He is actually a huge influence for me in my music, and really helped me to initially get off the ground, and on the road.

Do you have a band or is it just you?

I have musicians in Chicago and Bloomington, Illinois that play my music, but I wouldn’t say that I have a band.  I am a bit of a loner, and don’t think I’m ready to give up my solo touring just yet.  Eventually, I will have a stabilized band, but for this upcoming tour I will be solo, using my loopers and multi-instrument show to create a full sound.

So I see you are on Facebook. Are you also on Twitter?

I am. Are you going to follow me?

You play a lot in Wisconsin and Illinois. What do I have to do to get you to Indianapolis?

I actually have played in Indianapolis a few times, at a few coffeehouses, Rock Lobster, and Birdy’s Bar & Grill.  I am still searching for my ideal venue…Any ideas?

How did you react to the passing of Michael Jackson?

I was upset when I heard Michael died; he is certainly the biggest influence on the pop scene during my generation, and really inspired me with his sense of grandeur.  He knew how to dream, and how to make his dreams a reality, which is very inspiring.

Do you write all of your own lyrics?

I do write my own lyrics.

Where do you get inspiration for a new song?

Inspiration comes from all over, as long as I keep my eyes open.  Relationships and nature seem to be the biggest influences.

That’s a pretty cool picture on your MySpace page. Where was that taken?

Thanks so much!  It was taken at a CNGM fundraiser; CNGM is a film company that used my single, Romina, in one of their feature films, and I played for them at their annual celebration.

Describe your genre in one word.


Why do you play so many college gigs?

I love colleges because the students are the best audience for my music.  They listen so well, which is essential for my songs because I lace the verses with slam poetry.  What’s more, I feel college students are some of the most active and malleable, with the biggest potential to change the world.  This is the audience I want to play for, because this is the audience I want to inspire.

What are you drinking on stage?

Depends on the show, but usually lots and lots of water.  I turn into a fish on stage…literally!  Come check out a show!

Looks like you got a hair cut recently. What prompted that?

(Laughs) My hair is not my own anymore.  Depending on what shows I am doing (acting wise), I am under contract with my hair.  Many shows lately have had me growing it out, as it makes me look younger (or so I am told).  When I finish a show, I like to cut it because the long hair is so hard to manage.

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in music?

The same advice I would give anyone interested in doing any form of art for a profession: you have to need this.  This road is not for the weak of heart, because; it requires everything.  That being said, if one is willing to sacrifice it all, one simply needs to believe in him/herself, and all the world will open up..

How cool was it hearing our music on the radio for the first time?

I actually am yet to hear my music in my car, as I don’t listen to radio while I’m driving.  This would be a pretty cool sensation, I would imagine.  I have heard my music online before, and have come across it in random places, which is always a bit sublime.  I feel honored and blessed every time I do.

Tell me a little bit more about your new EP.

This EP is a precursor to the full length I am working on now.  The songs all have so much of my heart in them, and I am very proud of how the project turned out.  This being said, I am excited to see how the LP ends up, coming from a slightly different perspective and writing style.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

Currently, I am listening to a lot of Ray LaMontagne, Jackson 5, and Sleeping at Last.  A weird combination, but I love the soul of Ray, the energy of the Jackson’s, and the lyrics and drive of Sleeping at Last.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I can’t picture myself three months from now, let alone five years.  I am learning peace in presence, and so I am trying to take one day at a time, one breath in every step.

What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?

I want to be remembered for the love I put into the world.

I always let the artist get the last word. Go.

Life is meant to be an adventure; if you are bored it is time for a change.  Keep breathing!