Leon Bridges talks music, cooking and family

American singer-songwriter Leon Bridges is, if not a man without a country, a man rarely in his own. The 33-year-old, who was raised in the South and calls Fort Worth, Tex., home, Zoomed in from Australia, where he’s embarked on the Oz leg of his The Boundless Tour. It might be more apt to call it the endless tour: He’s been on the road since February, supporting his 2021 record Gold-Diggers Sound. And to be honest, Bridges’s team wonders whether “Real Life Diet” is even a good fit—he’s into whiskey and eats for enjoyment. Counting calories? Not really his thing.

But get him talking and there’s plenty here: At the mercies of travel delays and gourmet excesses, when he does return home, all he wants are slow mornings and comfort food with a Texas bent. And so GQ got into his philosophy, getting a firsthand recounting of the rigors of a lifestyle more associated with biting the head off a bat than chewing through a chopped salad.

American soul singer, songwriter and record producer. He is best known for his 2015 song “Coming Home”.

Growing up Louisiana and Texas, what was eating like in your family? What were you into?

Leon Bridges: My family is from New Orleans, so I was really able to get down on that cuisine. And I was really into all the sugary cereals and candy, but unfortunately my mom wasn’t into us eating junk food, so she tried to have us eat somewhat healthy food growing up.

So what was your favorite sugar cereal?

Fruity Pebbles was my jam. Still is. [Laughs.]

What did your mom cook instead?

She used to make oatmeal and Cream of Wheat — that was my favorite. She would totally kill it. I would try to make it myself, but it just didn’t have the magic of how my mom would do it.

You grow up, get out of the house, start to play shows. How does your diet change as you become an adult?

The thing about people who experience success and fame, you get exposed to some really awesome food. Being in this world, I feel like my palate is definitely better.

Do you remember the first time you were wowed by a great meal?

Yeah, it’s interesting, because, growing up in Texas, specifically in Fort Worth, they’ve been slow in incorporating really good food. Chili’s [the casual dinning chain] was the pinnacle. I was shopping different [record] labels, and I went to New York for the first time. My mangers, they took me to this little oyster spot, and I had oysters for the first time then, and just became hooked.

Big into oysters.

Oh, yeah. That’s my shit.

Raw? Steamed? Baked?

I had oysters as a kid in New Orleans. In New Orleans, the thing is baked oysters. But I like the raw oysters over that. First time I had a raw oyster [in New York], I was totally in love with it.

Musicians are infamous for lives of excess. What principles do you live by when it comes to what you eat and drink now?

Musicians, we’re always in transit, so it’s really hard to maintain a healthy diet. For so long, I was careless about what I ate—until I started gaining a little bit of weight. That’s just not sexy as an R&B singer. It’s like, Trey Songz and Chris Brown, y’all can’t have all the abs. [Laughs.] I used to be really into whiskey, and over time I just gained weight because of that. I would just eat whatever. And so I try to be mindful these days about what I eat—I guess it’s just all about balance. There’s days where I’ll try to avoid carbs. But every now and then I like to get down on a burger or the shitty foods.

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
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