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What Musician Leon Bridges Can’t Live Without

Photo: Getty Images/Mike Coppola

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the hand sanitizer and the electric toothbrush. We asked musician Leon Bridges — whose new EP with Khruangbin, Texas Sun, comes out today — about the cowboy hat, alkaline water, and loafers he can’t live without.

My family comes from New Orleans and I grew up in Texas, so I love Tex-Mex, hot sauce, all that stuff. I’m a spice-lover. I try not to get into junk food, but when I do get down on some chips, I like Kettle Brand the best. My favorite flavor is black pepper and salt. They’re a little bit spicy, but only a slight kick, and just taste great. They’re definitely the best kettle chip that I’ve tried. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a kettle-chip connoisseur, but I’ve had my fair share to say that, yeah, these are the best ones.

I wear it every day and bring it with me everywhere I go. I also always spray a little bit on me before I go onstage so the front row can get a whiff — you know, a little treat. It has a kind of citrusy, earthy smell to it that I really dig. I know a lot of people get into Le Labo, but I always try to find fragrances that are a little bit unique. I don’t want to be wearing what everybody else is wearing. I stumbled upon Aēsop’s store in Portland while on tour four or five years ago, because I needed some body wash. While I was looking around, I spotted the fragrance and just fell in love with it. Unfortunately, I left all the body wash in my hotel room and had to rebuy it in the next city. But at least I got my fragrance out of the deal, so it’s not all bad.

Stetson is kind of like a status cowboy-hat brand. I believe they started in Texas — I might be wrong, though — and they just get it. I love the style of the Open Road hat; it’s classic and sleek. I probably own about 10 cowboy hats total. I used to wear them pretty frequently, but I stopped wearing them when I’m at home or hanging out because it’s pretty hard to stay incognito when I’m rocking a cowboy hat. I haven’t been wearing them my whole life, but over the years I’ve grown to embrace Texas culture. I love everything about the aesthetic of the cowboy hats and bolo ties and boots. It’s funny, because every time I wear a Stetson now, people always reference Lil Nas X, and, I mean, I love Lil Nas X, but I’ve been rocking this look way before he came up, to be honest. I definitely think it’s cool that the Western look is becoming more mainstream — just as long as people remember where the style comes from, you know.

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These get really loud — that’s the best part. And the sound is pretty good. They’re really great for spontaneous after-parties in my hotel room. That actually happens more often than you’d think. But I always have them with me, regardless of potential parties. They’re really portable. I like to pull them out whenever I’m with my friends, whether I’m at my crib or on the road. I guess I am always listening to music. What I listen to really depends on the day and my mood, but recently I’ve been getting into this band called Tinariwen. Basically, they blend blues and traditional African music together. They have some really cool tracks. And they’re different.

Recently, I’ve been trying to incorporate more of a ’70s style into my look, and these loafers really work for that. I love their aesthetic, and I haven’t found a brand that does a loafer better than Gucci. I wear them every day. With these, there was also not a long break-in time, which is great for me because I’m on the go and traveling a lot, so I don’t mess with uncomfortable shoes. Unfortunately, I can’t wear them onstage — I just feel like that’ll really mess up my knees because I’m doing all this dancing and need a more supportive shoe. So I mostly just wear them off the stage. I always wear socks with them; I’m absolutely not a no-sock type of guy. That’s a huge no-no in my book.

I’ve been into alkaline water for a few years now, but I guess I got into Essentia somewhat recently. One time, on tour, I didn’t really specify what brand of alkaline water I wanted. I just said I wanted alkaline water, and then Essentia popped up in my greenroom. I’ve been a fan ever since. I love the taste of it, and I honestly do think alkaline water in general tastes purer than regular water. It’s overall just better for my voice, too. A lot of other brands actually dry my voice out, but Essentia really helps keep everything hydrated. I keep it in my dressing room and onstage while I’m performing.

Man, I love Gibson. They just do it right. I own about 10 guitars. I play Gibsons on stage, but the J45 is more for when I’m writing. I’m not really a good guitar player, I’ll admit it, but it’s a great tool to write songs. It helps me just bring out what’s in my head. When I went out to Houston to do a little writing session with Khruangbin, we initially wrote one or two jams. But post-session, I pulled out the J45 to mess around with some songs. Something just really clicked after that, so we scheduled some more time to get in there and went on to record “Texas Sun,” one of the singles on our new EP of the same name. It was a really beautiful experience. I’ve always been a fan of Khruangbin, so to just pull out my J45, play something I was working on with a band I really admire, and have it turn out to be something so special and funky and soulful was pretty amazing. I still think about it now, and I’m like, “That was so cool.”