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Jun 16 / vegan

Eilen Jewell – Simplicity Is King

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Eilen Jewell, singer-songwriter based in Boston area for the past 8 years, dishes on her new album “Queen of the Minor Key”, favorite foods, and eating philosophy.

Can you talk a little bit about whether there is any relationship between your music and your food choices?

This is a really interesting topic, which I’ve never been asked to think about before. Now that you mention it, when I describe my music I use the word “organic” a lot, and I’ve never really noticed it, but that is also what I use for eating too. It’s in my music as well as in my cooking. I do believe less is more, simplicity is king, and the more organic and the less messed with, both music and food, the better. So yea, there are quite a few similarities.

I am wondering, are you vegetarian or vegan?

I am vegetarian, I was raised vegetarian by my parents so I’ve been vegetarian my entire life. There have been a couple of times as a child and as a teenager, being curious about the world, you know, I’ve tried red meat before, and my parents did feed me some fish, just a little every so often. But, pretty much I’ve hardly had any meet my entire life.

I’ve got to say, my parents were never militant about it – they never pushed it on me, they always encouraged me to think for myself and make my own choices. The older I get the more I love vegetarianism, because I just find that well, it just makes me happy. I just really enjoy, I get a lot of joy out of not eating meat. I love vegetables, I just love everything about vegetables – I’m kind of a geek about them – and I love cooking – I’m also a geek about cooking too. It’s just been really fun for the past few years, whenever we’re home from tour, I’ll go straight to the van right into the kitchen. Put the apron on. Lately the trend has been grilling – I’m trying to see if there is any kind of vegetable that can’t be grilled.

Any grillin’ favorites?

I grilled a head of lettuce last week, it was awesome. I topped it with some grilled dates! I added bleu cheese dressing, which was very subtle. It was outstanding.

What do you do when you are on the road, with your band? Has it ever been an issue, is it easy to deal with, or are there difficulties to that?

It can be really difficult. For me vegetarianism is not just about not eating meat, its also about eating healthy plants, and its really hard to find those in gas stations and chain restaurants off the highway. So it is really difficult to eat well on the road. I depend a lot on the promoters of the various shows to feed the band. We put it on our rider that we like a hot, healthy meal and that one of us is vegetarian. People have been really accommodating. But breakfast and lunch are difficult because we are pretty much on our own, I do drink a lot of those Naked drinks, I go to Pilot because I know I can get them there – I definitely go there way too much. It’s been pretty challenging at times. I don’t like to eat junk food, and I never eat fast food, even if they have meatless options. For me it’s not just about x-ing out the meat, it’s about replacing it with something really beautiful, and alive, which is not easy to find.

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So, I can tell you have a strong preference towards healthy, plant based, non chemical food – is there any overarching philosophy behind your choices?

You know, being vegetarian is not a religion for me by any stretch of the imagination, but I do feel that there are vaguely spiritual ramifications for what you eat, because it just brings me joy, it connects me to the planet in ways I don’t usually get to experience. It’s hard when you are on the road you don’t really a chance to get your hands into some dirt. Eating fresh vegetables is my version of taking a walk in the woods.

Does your attitude rub off other people in your life?

I don’t know about that… the guys in the band eat a lot of meat, so basically they do their thing and I do mine – we just keep out of each others business about it. When I was a kid growing up in the 80s in Idaho, there were not very many vegetarians, and there still aren’t, it’s a big ranching state – red meat, and lots of potatoes (obviously). Even today in Idaho, Vegetarianism isn’t even really heard of. But I’m pretty used to it, and I’ve developed a tough skin – people can make fun of me all they want and it doesn’t affect me one bit. I know how important it is to me and how much I love it.

How does your attitude about this rub off on your music?

In that sense my philosophy about food and my music is similar, it’s harder to describe with music, but my whole philosophy about performing is that I do what I do, I feel good about it, and people can take it or leave it. If you show an interest in it, I am very welcoming to that, but if not, that’s fine too. I try to keep it so that it is coming from my heart, and long as I feel confident about it then I don’t let the rest of the world.

Actually I try to take both favorable reviews and negatives reviews with a grain of salt, because the focus has to stay on what I am doing. Everyone has a different opinion about how something should be, so I just try to stay true to myself. You know, because the way that I eat has so much to do with my life, it does trickle into my music. Like I said before, with the whole idea that less is more… I feel like when my band and I when we record in the studio, we make an effort to keep the music as organic as possible. We want the sound to be sprouting up on its own, not overly produced. It’s kind of similar to the way an organic farmer would let the plants grow, and let the earth do the work. We let the music do its thing, and we just try to keep it simple.

That’s definitely my philosophy about food too; a couple of ingredients are all you need. Anything your grandma wouldn’t recognize or can’t pronounce, stay away from that.

Thanks to our correspondant, David Karopkin, for spending some time talking food with Eilen!

Be sure to check out Eilen’s tour dates, as she is heavily touring the Northeast over the upcoming weeks and months. Her newest release, Queen of the Minor Key, is available on her website.

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